Current trends in amateur competition pricing

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by NielsenE, Mar 15, 2007.

  1. NielsenE

    NielsenE Active Member

    Rather than continue the off-topic sidetrack in the NJDSC Spring Fling thread, I thought it would be best to break out the issue to a new thread...

    There's been an unfortunate trend of rather rapidly increasing costs at both the collegiate and USA Dance competitions in the Northeast.

    What can be done when the "expensive" competitions still attract more people than they can comfortably accomodate?

    How can price hikes be made less drastic, while avoiding registration fees of $32.65?

    What amentities are you willing to give up, etc?
  2. IlyZislin

    IlyZislin Active Member

    There was a comment made on the NJDSC thread that "Show is almost manditory" - Do a lot of people go to the comp because of the show? Is it comp reputation (such as "MIT is the comp to be at"), or is it scholarships? How does price of the registration for the comp impact attendance?
  3. NielsenE

    NielsenE Active Member

    Another set of inter-related issues, as tunape, brought up in the hijacked thread... How does one comp raising their prices hurt other competitions -- classically when then large events raise rates, the smaller events suffer due to team funding only being stretchable so far...

    Plus it then cascades as the small events raise their rates to pay for attending more expensive comps, etc
  4. skwiggy

    skwiggy Well-Known Member

    I read somewhere that while the whole nation complains about rising gas prices, most of the population won't actually change their driving habits until gasoline goes above $4/gallon. Until then, all people will do about it is complain.

    I imagine there's a parallelism to raising the prices of comps. Up until a point, all that people will do about it is complain, but they'll keep attending. I guess the question is, what is that price point?
  5. tunape

    tunape New Member

    so, just wanted to toss in a few ideas and background into this. There's this idea of "willingness-to-pay"(WTP) for a product(or service, or comp), and people will buy if the price is less than or equal to WTP. This varies highly between people, and is not easy to tease out. When a comp sets a fixed price for everyone, we basically get the total number of people who value it equal to or beyond the price.

    Some believe that it can be estimated using observable characteristics. McFadden won the Nobel prize in economics(2000) where he argues that people make choices based a linear combination of characteristics and some weight.

    Marketing people use conjoint analysis where they list 4-6 characteristics in different combinations and ask people how they value each combination. Then you can tease out the value of each characteristic. Typical characteristics are price, brand, and features. We should try to setup a simple survey in this nature for fun. So, I'm thinking the characteristics could be:

    - brand(college comp, comp name, regionals/not)
    - price
    - prior size?
    - others?
  6. Katarzyna

    Katarzyna Well-Known Member

    150 per person for SRC? That's my price point..

    sorry, couldn't help myself
  7. IlyZislin

    IlyZislin Active Member

    Elasticity
    :)
  8. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    While there has been a moderate increase in the prices of these events, the very existence of them - especially their existence as full-fledged serious competition - in a last-few-years improvement over previous, more expensive options.

    It's also been matched by some reasonably-priced no-ballroom-admission-ticket amateur competitor packages from a few NDCA competitions.

    The price of the inexpensive comps is going but - but at least we have inexpensive comps.
  9. tunape

    tunape New Member

    there's definitely been a bit of a Arm's race between the major comps. If the objective(as proclaimed by some coaches of teams) is to make a profit, sometimes making the biggest, best comp is not the way to go.

    When will the Cold (Comp) War end?
  10. NielsenE

    NielsenE Active Member

    Well to be perfectly honest, I'm not so worried about the cost to competitors like myself, or Kat, or Kitty. I'm worried about the effect it has on the growth rate of the collegiate circuit as a whole, especially at the beginner/young team level.

    I'm hearing more and more schools are having to scale back from attending say 3 competitions a semester to 2, or even 1. Now of course individuals competitors from these teams can choose to supplement whatever funding they get from their team with their own personal income, but that's a harder choice for a) poor/young college kids at a b) newcomer/beginner level as compared to people for whom either a or b doesn't apply.

    However I'd be perfectly happy if these smaller team's main circuit was a field of cheaper competitions and they didn't attend Harvard/MIT in mass. Yet I have heard how much MIT-style events inspire some of these teams, for whom its their primarily chance to get "coaching" by watching what the good couples do and trying to reverse engineer it (not the best way to learn, but given their complete lack of resources.....)
  11. star_gazer

    star_gazer Active Member

    My kids are trying to work their way up the amateur ranks on a limited budget. Its all on a spreadsheet twelve months in advance and when the $$ gets too high, comps get cut. In deciding where to go they figure in how many rounds they think they'll get to dance, how many events they can dance in, who is judging, airfare, hotel, registration and admission. Sometimes I wish I had this all in a fancy algorithm because sometimes they make the wrong decision but the bottom line is...the bottom line. Some NDCA comps are giving breaks to amateurs on admission tickets and that helps. It doesn't help when the USA Dance comps raise their rates. MIT seems like a pretty good deal but I wish young amateurs (who are working to afford to dance) didn't have to pay adult rates.
  12. Kitty

    Kitty New Member

    so we can try to determine the elasticity as Ily mentioned

    but a better question is, why do teams run competitions and how do they determine prices they set.



    the original idea of a college comp, correct me if I am wrong, is to provide the opportunity to compete to members of college teams.
    1) the members of college teams are mostly beginners
    2) beginners are not willing to pay more than a certain amount for dance opportunities
    3) a lot of students often just can't afford it
    4) collegiate competitions happen a lot more often than NDCA and USA Dance ones, providing enough comp experience to members of collegiate dancesport that they wouldn't get if they were to attend only NDCA and USA dance sanctioned ones.

    teams also run competitions for the experience in organizing and to bring more publicity to their team. and also to feel good that they dont' only "take" from the collegiate circuit, but also "give"

    that's how I imagined it.

    how do teams set the prices for a comp? probably just looking at other comps and deciding if they want to be in line, slightly cheaper or slightly more expensive... I have no idea...

    a lot of big comps actually make money... that the team can spend later on attending other comps or providing other services to members... since their competition makes more money, I guess overall budget is not affected by the rising costs of other comps...

    so who is paying the difference? I guess smaller teams and competitions that don't make this money
    and independent competitors ro students that are attending competitions not supported by their team...
  13. skwiggy

    skwiggy Well-Known Member

    I'm willing to give up any kind of free photography or video. I don't need there to be 17 judges, although it's nice when the judges present are well-qualified.. I'm also willing to give up high-tech callback posting. While these things are certainly appreciated, they are sort of the cherry on top.

    The things that I wouldn't want to sacrifice are a nice floor, adequate warm up space, the competition running on time, and water in the on-deck area.

    A show can be a draw, but in most cases won't determine whether or not I attend a competition.

    The biggest factors that determine whether or not I go to a comp include the field (who and how many) I expect to be there or attended previously, and often location/accessiblity.

    The offering of scholarships has been a draw in the past, but the lack thereof has never discouraged me from attending a competition that peaked my interest.
  14. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    The problem is that you actually do need 17 judges or so in order to staff 5 judges into every event of a two day competition, especially if two floors are used to handle volume.

    Putting them all on for the champ event or even finals in general is just a bonus with little marginal cost.
  15. tunape

    tunape New Member

    the trouble with framing the question like this is that people value a loss differently than a gain. So, how much of a price reduction are you willing to get if MIT doesn't have a show? vs. how much more would you pay if Holy Cross had a show(same couple)? The answers tend to be different. this is where Conjoint Analysis teases out this by averaging the lost/gain values.
  16. NielsenE

    NielsenE Active Member

    Well they don't pay the "adult" rate, they'd pay the student rate.
  17. Kitty

    Kitty New Member

    well, I also wasn't just talking about the effect the prices have on myself, but also the overall impact on the (smaller) college teams, and overall the idea..


    I agree with everything stacey said
    as an open competitor.
    - 17 judges is an overkill, but having a panel of qualified judges is important.
    - free video and photography is nice but doesn't affect my decision about attending
    - show is usually not important
    - size and quality of the field is important. we may choose to attend an event that is not very contested, but more as an exception rather than a rule...
    - drinking water is nice and doesn't cost the competition anything


    now considering the effect prices have on me, Kat, Stacey and Star_gazers kids:
    - open competitors have to compete a lot more often than beginners... while it is difficult for beginners to justify spending a large amounts of money on a comp, it is simply difficult for the open level competitors to afford it.
    If competing twice a month (which is almost neccessary) ends up costing 400 or more for the couple, I'd say the cost is just getting out of control...
    add lessons, practice fees and costumes we are already paying for... who can afford it?
    therefore
    - scholarships are definitely a draw. even if they are tiny, they often make the comp more affordable. most of the time the scholarsips are less than what we paid in entry fees...
  18. tunape

    tunape New Member

    the trouble is:
    1) elasticity for gain/loss is different. so adding a feature is different than losing that same feature. estimatations are difficult.
    2) who's getting screwed? usually the small teams with smaller budgets.

    I think prices are typically set historically, and based on cost/estimate of # of competitors. cost-pricing doesn't give much strategic leverage.


    Singalling is a big part both in the showing team strength to other teams, and also building internal team spirit.


    I would argue that comps should move away from cost-pricing to more strategic pricing, where it may be higher or lower than the cost of running the comp. Lower-than-cost pricing can be made up in other ways like sponsorship(even from USABDA chapters), cross-price substitution(ie. higher consession stand prices), or bundling(ie. comp+workshop).

    smaller teams are definitely at a disadvantage for not having a comp as a source of income, and even if they try, they tend to be late-comers to the already saturated collegiate comp schedule.

    I would argue for more comps which cater to certain demographics - more specialization. Harvard Beg. and Baby BAM Jam are good idea, and is probably the way to go in the future.

    However, specialization which separates team is probably a bad idea... things like "american" only comps where most teams have all four styles will force the team to make a hard decision.
  19. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    I don't think that follows at all.

    Why do open competitors have to compete more often than beginners?

    Shouldn't a more mature couple have more they need to accomplish between competitions, and be better able to direct their practices towards achieving what they need, than a beginner couple who doesn't know what they are trying to do yet?

    I would suggest that you are competing more often than you used to simply because you can - you aren't stuck two hours out on the island any more, and you are now dancing in a level where there are more competitions with non-empty events to enter (a beginner for example might as well take the entire summer off, as there's little but nationals available to enter with any expectation of multiple rounds)
  20. Kitty

    Kitty New Member

    what do you call strategic pricing?

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