Two students compete in a 20/20 Rumble in Iceland

IN HOUSE TOURNAMENT 101

Running your own in-house events can be a highly effective way to increase student retention, promote student camaraderie, and bring in new student referrals. This step by step guide will help you create this new revenue stream, keep your students happier longer, and offer insight into how you can create a sustainable in-house tournament structure by walking you through the four phases of the in-house tournament event cycle. 

PHASE 1: PRE-EVENT – 1 Month Out – First Event Awareness

This section includes strategies to create the first burst of attention around your tournament. We’ve learned that the best threshold for an in-house event is usually between $30 to $50 dollars per participant. 

Here’s how you can get started:

  • Make a tournament poster featuring the armor with an interesting tournament name – (ie. “20/20 Grand Prix” not “January Sparring Tournament”). We recommend not only posting it in the lobby but in the classroom and changing rooms as well. Knowing that they will get to use the armor creates excitement. 
  • Make a Special Grand Award (Championship Belt or Trophy) and display it prominently in the school. Talk about this award in class and tell both parents and students how special it is. Bring the award onto the floor and highlight it every week to build excitement. 
  • In the time in between tournaments put a picture of the last champion on the wall in the hallway or main practice area. 
  • Announce tournament on your Facebook page. Post weekly photos on your Facebook and Instagram pages leading up to the event and make sure to underline that you are using the Armor. 
  • Once you are regularly holding tournaments you will have a supply of student pictures you can regularly share, making your social media page a go-to place to celebrate the work your students are doing in class/tournaments and thus reinforcing their desire to continue attending classes. A side benefit of posting your students accomplishments on social media is that they will share it with their friends giving you a potential entrance point to attract new students.  
  • Escalate how many drills in class that are directly related to the type of event you are running, and point out for each of the drills how they will benefit the student at the upcoming event. Everyone does these drills, even if they do not plan on attending. 

PHASE 2: PRE-EVENT – 1 WEEK OUT – REGISTRATION DRIVE

This section outlines some simple strategies to get more attendance through a last push in the week leading up to your event. 

  • Be sure to send daily call to action emails out to students with a countdown to the registration deadline. This should also be echoed on whatever social media you are active on. 
  • Have your instructors make phone calls to students and parents they are most closely connected to offer personal invitations to the event. We’ve found this personalized approach  goes a long way.  
  • Be sure to set the Registration Deadline for 3 days before you actually want it to be, then on the day before the deadline, extend the registration deadline to give students a sense of urgency so they don’t miss their opportunity to compete. 
  • Create brackets for each division before starting the tournament and thoroughly schedule your whole event so that it feels as planned and purposeful as possible. You want as little downtime as possible. 
  • Avoid beginning the tournament with sparring unless it is a sparring only event.
  • Offer many different types of games and opportunities that the kids can compete in, and never single elimination for a small event. Different types of games offer protection from buyer’s remorse from “one and done”. The best events are carnival style where a loss at one event does not mean elimination from the tournament. You want all participants to enjoy their experience so they come back for your next event.
  • We recommend that the final phase of a tournament be a team based game. This prevents people from leaving early, which keeps the energy in the room high and will help your event finish strong. If people can leave as soon as their part is done, then the room will be dead by the finals, and there is no one to cheer for the champions.
  • Dedicate a staff member or parent as a photographer at the event, both for photos and videos. This will help you raise attention for the next event and offer your students valued social reinforcement that will keep them committed to their studies. 
  • Streaming any exciting moments or matches to Facebook Live will help engage the students that are not currently participating in attending the next iteration of the event. 
  • Make sure to capture the moment when you crown the winner of the tournament. We also recommend part of the prize being free entry into the next tournament.

PHASE 3: EVENT EXECUTION
This section focuses on general steps you can take to execute an in house tournament and also provides tips on how to integrate 20/20 Armor into your tournament to create great excitement, engagement and create new revenue streams. 

Note: Be sure to fully charge your electronic vests because you want them to be up and ready for the entirety of your event. We offer ten different games that have hundreds of possible variations  (http://2020armor.com/drills/) all of which can be used in a competition format. 

PHASE 3C: GAMING STATIONS:
We’ve found that running a gaming station using 20/20 Armor during your tournaments will make participants happier during the wait times between events. Setting up a gaming station can be as simple as creating a dedicated ring in the holding area with 2 sized four Recreational Electronic Chestguards on Wavemaster XLs or BOBs and getting student volunteers to facilitate the game play. You can run any of the ten game modes and get participants to play during down time. 

PHASE 3 B: ALTERNATIVE JUDGING MODEL FOR 1 PLAYER GAMES: 
As some games we offer are single player, we have created an alternative model for competing. Instead of competing against other students like in a traditional tournament, participants can compete against a set standard for their division in games where they hit the armor on heavy bags or BOBS.  In these competitions they will be striving to get a score of a certain level to qualify for gold, silver or bronze. So participants can play multiple times throughout the day and this can generate more revenue as they compete to top their personal best. 

  1. Free Model (Passive): With the free model you run the Gaming Station as a free activity. This allows participants to vent boredom and takes up some of their downtime.  The free gaming station is a retention strategy to make the experience of going to the tournament more pleasant so attendees will sign up next year.  This station should be manned by a volunteer as it will not be generating revenue. 
  2. Pay to Play Model (Income Model): This is a gaming station that alleviate boredom while generating new revenue. Having there be a charge per use is useful because it offers the opportunity if your event is running late you can give away stamps for a free game on the house as a way of showing that you care about your customers. This model also means you can make extra income while keeping your audience engaged.
  3. Unlimited Model (Income Model): Customers pay five dollars to pay at the gaming station all day. This gives your customers a way to entertain themselves but also means they don’t have to worry about paying to use it over and over again and you get one bulk payment per customer.  

PHASE 4: POST EVENT – EARLY REGISTRATION RETARGETING

  • Know the dates that the next iteration of your tournament by the time your event is actually held – but do not release the date until the event is over. This prevents students from feeling like they can miss your current event if the next one is not very far away. We recommend having events separated by at least two months. When an in-house event becomes too regular it becomes something people feel they can miss. 
  • Immediately post to Social Media to show off how fun the event was and put out a  call to action like “See You Next Month” to rally future participation. Celebrate your winners across all social media channels to create social reinforcement and excitement about the next event. 
  • Reach out to all attendees and offer them a 20% discounted early registration price for the next installment of the event if they sign up this week. ie $10 off a $50 registration.
  • Make a short 30 second highlight videos from your footage. Share to your Facebook page and send in an email letting people know the next time this event will run so they know to look forward to it.
  • Recognize the Grand Champion/team in class as part of your early registration campaign. The only way to unseat the champion is to sign up – may as well do it now.
  • Please send pictures of your events and champions so that we can post about your events and celebrate the winners with you. Contact michael@2020armor.com and he’ll post it on our Facebook page. 

Conclusion: 
In-house tournaments are a great way to keep your students engaged in their studies and make some extra money for your dojan.  Let us know your experience with 20/20 tournaments and any tips you might have so that we can share it with the rest of our community. Good luck and enjoy the fight!