Anthony Rue wrote:How come the US competition fee structure is so out of whack with the rest of the world?
There are many reasons for this:
1) Many prices for many things are simply "out of whack" when you compare them from country to country. Our espresso machines cost much more to buy, sometimes more than double the price, in certain other countries compared to the US.
2) The value proposition is different. In MOST other countries, private
companies host their national barista competitions, NOT a non-profit. For them, the prestige and marketing exposure from hosting the event offsets the fact that the event is negative-profit.
3) Many of those in the "rest of the world" charge admission to watch their competitions.
4) Prices pertain to costs. Remember, SCAA is NOT profiting from the barista competitions. Even then, "profit" for a non-profit means revenue for programs. The event is STILL nets out negative-profit, even worse when you factor in the labor costs involved.
5) Volume. We have, even at a reduced "six," more regional events than any other country in the world.
6) Sponsorship. Sponsorship dollars are in short-supply, especially in this economy. In other countries, the vast majority of which are much smaller than the US (usually in geography but certainly in the size of its specialty coffee market), the pond being smaller often means that the landscape is very different, and the value proposition (see #2 above) changes the "market" for sponsorship dollars greatly.
7) Professionalism. As you'll recall, in the past, regional events were hosted by local companies with SCAA supporting the competition itself. This led to a huge difference in quality these events, often effecting the ability of the competitors to perform as they prepared to. These events had cost the hosts between $5000 and $10000 per host, even with sponsorship. Now the SCAA hosts the event, but cannot afford to carry the $30,000-$60,000 sum, on top of the already increased costs to the Association (labor, etc.).
8) Some of those other countries have really wonderful, professional events. Most have very shabbily-produced events. You'd be surprised.
9) 220V power. For most event-hosting venues, each 220V-30A power drop costs over $1000 for a three-day event. Many other countries have that electricity readily available.
I could go on.
Anthony Rue wrote:The opposite should be true-- by organizing events that bring in and benefit non-members, they actually will be building a more robust organization by building a stronger community. A rising tide lifts all boats.
"A rising tide..." is a nice idea. But what you're doing is trying to defend the idea of sitting in one boat not contributing
as the other boats are working their asses off to raise the tide. This is an incredibly weak argument.
Tony, like I said, price increases suck. Period. I think we can all agree on that. If you haven't read Marcus Boni's response on the subject, it's here
."Because it's pretty clear that there are fundamental cracks in the USBC organization that will need to be addressed before they loose all of their sponsorship and it's too late to save."
is sensationalistic, and exactly the kind of statement I was referring to. C'mon man. Nothing is perfect. Sausage-making is often unpleasant. The fact is, the SCAA is a non-profit organization that serves its members and therefore the community. The only reason that you're as aware of any "cracks in the USBC organization" is because the SCAA's work is generally an open book. Nobody's trying to hide anything, but nobody's perfect either.
In the previous structure, there were 10 event hosts, plus the SCAA staff director (Michelle then Marcus) planning and managing execution of the ten events. Now, there is Marcus Boni planning 6 events, executing those events, plus the USBC… and that all adds up to only part of Marcus' workload. Why so much work put on one person? Part of it is, frankly, that as those who love him and know him know, Marcus is a workaholic who takes on more than he probably should. The main reason though? The Association can't afford additional staff support right now.
Frankly, while so many are focused on debating the fee change issue, I think that the issue of staff-support is actually the single biggest "threat" to the future of the USBC regional competitions. Marcus needs support, if not to have the USBC regional event management taken off his plate altogether. The inevitable transition can only go smoothly if the USBC structure itself is as strong as it can be. The more everyone can do to support Marcus and the organization... THAT is the proper application of the "rising tide lifts all boats" saying. So let's all focus on raising the tide for all by helping raise the tide, both in our work, and in supporting the organization in this type of discussion.