I already did.
One went OK. The other was terrible.
Those opinions are from my perspective. I know the attendees had a good time, learned a lot, and won great prizes.
So why do I believe they were failures?
Because I lost thousands of dollars running each event. I didn’t expect to make money, but I didn’t expect to lose any either.
It’s also why fewer and fewer sweepstakes clubs or sweepers are willing to take the risk of running a mini or full convention. The financial liability is real, not to mention the amount of work involved.
Big events, such as contest conventions, are run by a group, club, or individual on a volunteer basis. They select the dates and seek out a venue. Hotels are picked because they have guest rooms, conference rooms, and the ability to cater. A contract must be signed assuring the hotel that a specific number of hotel nights will be booked along with the fees for the conference rooms and catering. The amount is based upon the estimated number of people that are going to attend. The amount the hotel expects the convention to pay is in the tens of thousands [of dollars], and a deposit must be paid upfront. As a contract has been signed, and if the convention hosts don’t meet their financial obligations, they can be sued.
Let’s go back to 2007 when I hosted a contest convention in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. I would like to address what happened and why I said, “Never again.” until I did.
I believed so strongly in bringing the fun and excitement I experienced at the American conventions back to Canada I ‘lent’ the convention the hotel deposit along with funds for any other start-up costs.
Many Canadians didn’t understand what went on at a convention and why they should attend, so instead of 500 attendees, we only had 125. Another reason people didn’t attend, is they assumed I was getting rich from fellow contestors.
Coupled with the low attendance was the lack of support. Originally, many fellow contestors volunteered to help, but in the end, it was just my contest buddy Richard and I doing all the main organizing. It took us 6-months of full-time effort to make the convention a huge success for the attendees. Thankfully, many more helped when it came to the actual event itself.
As the convention didn’t attract as many attendees as budgeted for, the convention lost money. I covered all the losses out of my own pocket. When all was said and done, I spent $15,000+ of my own money to cover all the event costs.
Since we didn’t get the projected number of attendees, we didn’t meet the contract obligations. The hotel also wanted to sue. Thankfully, the hotel had sold out that weekend, so I was able to avoid litigation or additional expenses.
Also, in the original budget, had we had enough attendees, there would have been enough seed money left over to begin planning the next convention. The convention would have become self-sustaining. Since that did not occur, there was only one Canadian convention.
I said I would never run another convention. I should have taken my own advice. This one was squarely on me. Let me explain.
In 2016 it was announced the 28th Annual National Sweepstakes Convention would be a cruise. On the surface, that sounds amazing, but it was a week-long, in the fall, during Yom Kippur. Not everyone could afford the budget, the time, or both.
Many reached out to me asking if I would host a summer event they could attend. Then, after polling fellow sweepstakers, it appeared I had enough interest to run another convention, successfully this time. I booked the Hilton DoubleTree in Orange, California.
Based on those that had expressed interest, I extrapolated the number of attendees. I should have known better.
Karma doesn’t work the way most people believe it does. Karma is how you approach life and the energy and emotions you put out. As I was in a negative, frustrated headspace when I signed the contract, I am not surprised the event very nearly flopped completely.
Based on several mitigating factors, I didn’t get the number of attendees required to fulfill my contract, and therefore I lost the deposit. Thankfully, I had teamed up with Courtny and she sought out an alternative venue.
In the end we had 65 people that had a ball, listened to amazing speakers, were fed well, and won heaps of prizes. However, as I had lost the deposit, I had to cover all the remaining expenses.
Like I said, this one was on me. In the end, I spent about the same out of my own pocket as the first convention.
Future of Events
The 2023 Annual National Sweepstakes Convention will be held in Scottsdale, Arizona. (I already have my ticket!) The 2024 convention will be held in Las Vegas, Nevada. Unless another sweepstakes club, or individual steps up to host 2025, that may be the last event.
I will support anyone and/or any club that hosts a winning event. I will promote it, donate prizes and even teach if asked, but I won’t be the main force behind it.
Behind the Scenes
After each event, invariably there are always complaints. Something could have been done better. Instead, The Golden Rule should be adhered to. Be kind to your hosts. They put in an inordinate amount of work and took on a massive amount of risk. Unless you are willing to run any type of convention, be a helper instead of a hindrance.
Ask yourself, how can I help to make the next sweepstakes convention a success?