By Chula Bruggeling
Recently, there has been a lot of talk on the importance of good tournament bids for the overall success of a tournament. Deutscher Quidditchbund (DQB), Germany’s NGB, has obviously done a good job with their successful bid for World Cup 2016, so the Quidditch Post sat down to interview two of the NGB’s board members about the process of making their World Cup bid, as well as finding out how to make a (great) tournament bid in general.
Nina Heise is the DQB’s President, while Juliane Schillinger is its PR Director. Both were heavily involved with the Frankfurt bid for World Cup and have had ample experience with tournament location decisions in the past two years, including German Cup 2016.
Quidditch Post: We can’t start this interview without first congratulating you on making a successful bid to get World Cup 2016 to Frankfurt. You managed to get the most international quidditch tournament to date to your country, with teams from all continents (except Antarctica) expected to participate. How does that feel?
Nina Heise: It is of course a great honor for us. This year’s World Cup is the evidence of countless people’s efforts over the past years to make quidditch grow worldwide, and we are proud to provide the stage for a tournament that will introduce so many new countries and personalities to the international quidditch scene.
QP: What was your motivation as an NGB to get the World Cup to Germany in the first place?
Juliane Schillinger: First and foremost, we are all part of the quidditch community too, so naturally we want to see the World Cup happen at a location that can do this extraordinary tournament justice. We felt that with Frankfurt in general and the Rebstocklage [sports facility] in particular, we had such a location at our hands, so it only made sense to make it available to the IQA. Additionally, World Cup is a great opportunity for us as DQB to showcase quidditch and draw attention to our sport nationwide. It is also a big step toward higher legitimacy. Being able to refer to teams coming from as far as the US, Uganda, or South Korea to compete here in Germany makes the public take the sport a lot more seriously. It thus puts us in a better position to build up new partnerships with media outlets and businesses that will benefit the growth of quidditch in the future.
NH: From a potentially more pragmatic perspective, hosting World Cup in Germany of course also means very cheap travel for our own national team. I think this is also an important point to keep in mind for every team or NGB that is considering submitting a bid for any tournament: even if you do not need the publicity that comes along with hosting a major quidditch event, having the tournament in your hometown allows you to bring players irrespective of their financial possibilities.
QP: Let’s take a closer look at the bid itself, starting with the location. Why did you choose Frankfurt? And how do you generally figure out which city or region would be best suited for a tournament bid?
JS: Generally speaking, there are two main criteria to keep in mind when choosing a place: the possible tournament location and the overall accessibility. For a major tournament, you want to be sure that there are ample facilities available and that they meet a certain quality standard. This applies primarily to the fields themselves – a topic that has been discussed quite regularly lately – but also to changing rooms, floodlights, and the like. With regards to accessibility, an international tournament by default means that there will be at least some teams arriving by plane. An airport in the vicinity of the chosen city is therefore a big plus. Additionally, it is always worth considering potential partners who can support the tournament; for example, the municipality itself, a hotel to ensure cheap accommodation, or businesses that can act as sponsors. It might be an option to single out two or three cities and start by getting in touch with the respective municipalities to explore their enthusiasm to become involved with the tournament.
NH: In our case, Frankfurt was a rather easy pick. As part of the Frankfurt quidditch team, I had been involved in organising a tournament at the Rebstocklage last year, so we knew the quality of the location and on-site facilities. And with two international airports, a big train station, and lots of coach connections, it is as easily accessible as it gets in Germany. Another bonus of the specific tournament location was its proximity to Frankfurt’s large international fair. Plenty of accommodations are readily available, and as July is generally the fair’s off-season, this accommodation could easily be secured for players.
QP: As soon as you pick a location, how do you start with the actual process of putting together a bid? What is the first thing you should do?
NH: As Juliane mentioned, local partners are a great way to improve your bid package and to ensure a high-quality tournament. In any case, you should try to get the city and the city’s sports department hooked on the idea of having a large quidditch tournament. Even if they cannot support the tournament financially, they are probably able to promote it to a much greater audience. There are different incentives for a city to become involved with your bid. Big tournaments have an equally big economic impact, as players and fans are going to stay in the city’s hotels, eat in the city’s restaurants, and so on. At the same time, quidditch provides an opportunity to the city, or any other partner organisation, to present itself as a dynamic city, open-minded to both a rather young sport and the social values that come along with it (keyword: gender inclusivity). You definitely want to start early with reaching out to these potential partners, as decision-making processes on their end can take quite some time and several meetings. In the meantime, you can already start working off the list of information you have to provide on the tournament location.
JS: Ideally, you also assemble a (more or less) small team of people to work on the bid early on. It is certainly possible to put together a great bid with two or three people, but the more you are, the easier it is to divide tasks and make sure that nobody has too big of a workload. You can always use the bidding manual as an orientation to see which tasks need to be tackled and assign responsibilities accordingly. There should, for instance, be somebody taking care of accommodation possibilities, somebody looking into first aid, and so on.
QP: While working on the bid, what are important things to keep in mind?
NH: When talking to potential partners outside of the quidditch community like the city or maybe a chain of hotels, it is of the utmost importance to come prepared. Most likely, the people you are going to talk to have never heard of quidditch before, and even if they have, they might very well be sceptical. After all, you’re asking them to invest time and possibly money in a sport where people run around on PVC pipes. You will need to convince them to take both you and the event seriously. So, when you meet up with them, put some effort into making a professional appearance. Dress up a bit, arrive a little early, and, ideally, have some kind of handout ready to give to your contact person that supports your own words through facts and figures. It can help to have the bidding manual prepared, but hardly anyone really wants to read two pages of requirements for a tournament, especially if they have not decided whether they actually want to support it yet. Rather, be very clear on what you want from them and how they can profit from getting involved because that is what any talk will boil down to in the end.
JS: It is always good to remember that you do not have to organise the tournament; you are just presenting a location. Ideally, you can name one or two people from your bid team who would be willing to become involved with the tournament organisation, either as part of the official organising committee or as somebody who can assist the committee with the on-site logistics, but that is not a requirement. Your only job is to propose a location to hold the next highlight of the quidditch season.
QP: Eventually you reach the point to start writing down all the information. Is there anything you want to stress about writing the actual tournament bid?
NH: Make sure to be transparent on finances. One of the most important parts of your bid is an overview of the costs that are to be expected; for example, the tournament location, on-site medics, and the accommodation possibilities you included. Even though you probably cannot give final numbers, make an educated guess. Don’t be discouraged if it adds up to quite an amount of money – organisers will always prefer to know what to expect than to be in the dark entirely. And good facilities are usually worth it.
QP: Looking back at the whole bidding process for World Cup 2016, which aspects surprised you the most?
JS: I think it was mostly less work than we expected at first, especially once the bid was submitted. We naturally spent quite some time making the bid itself as good as possible, but as soon as it was handed in, the IQA ― and later the World Cup Organising Committee (WCOC) ― took over to do the actual organising.
NH: Of course, we are still closely collaborating with the WCOC when it comes to promotion in order to reach as many people in Germany as possible, but at the end of the day, the committee is doing all the hard work.
QP: Thanks again for taking the time to answer some questions.