Marketing & Sponsorships

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Can Groundbreaking ‘Digital Detox’ Lead to Cross-Promotions with Mind Sports?

18 Apr, 2018

By: Mary Helen Sprecher
Event Owners in Bridge, Crosswords and More Host Events Across the U.S. and Could Provide Opportunities to Encourage Visitors to go ‘Off the Grid’ from Phones and Explore Local Attractions Instead

When the Renaissance Pittsburgh Hotel announced the Digital Detox Weekend, in which tourists could check into the hotel and swap their devices for ‘unplugged’ activities such as kayaking and sightseeing, it was more than a promotion.

While the campaign, which required visitors to surrender their mobile phones, iPads and more at the front desk – and gave them a room filled with board games and literary classics instead of docking stations – was certainly aimed at weekend tourists, it could also be seen as a call-to-arms for those hosting events such as mind sports.

Across the U.S., tournaments are held for aficionados of games such as chess, bridge, crossword puzzles and sudoku. And those tournaments attract not only the individuals participating in the competitions, but spouses and families as well. If event organizers join with sports commissions at those destinations, an unlimited number of tie-ins is possible. Encouraging visitors to try those sports – and sightseeing – could make for some excellent marketing opportunities, as well as create additional media exposure for the events themselves.

A number of events are already on the books across the U.S. The U.S. Chess Federation, for example, has released its calendar of events for 2018 and 2019. Those events are taking place coast to coast, from New York City to San Jose, California – and just about every destination in between. The American Contract Bridge League also lists tournaments across the U.S. and even into Canada.  The American Crossword Puzzle Tournament just wrapped up on March 25 in Stamford, Connecticut, and is already planning its 2019 event for March 22-24 in the same city.

On the international level, the World Puzzle Federation hosts events annually. (Qualifying events are held online but the finals take place in person in May in cities around the U.S.). The Mahjong International Leagueholds events worldwide as well; in 2016, it held a tournament in Houston, Texas.

Some mind sports have already gained pop culture fame, but have yet to incorporate digital-free cross-promotions. Poker tournaments, including the World Series of Poker, World Poker Tour, WSOP Circuit and Card Player Poker Tour, all list upcoming events in casinos across the U.S. A number of websites serve as bulletin boards for upcoming events; one example is PokerAtlas.

In an interview with Sports Destination Management, Thomas Hsiang, secretary-general of the International Mind Sports Association, noted that specific venues are needed to host mind sports.

“We need a very substantial indoor playing area, as well as lodging and other services. (In 2008), we used the Beijing Convention Center that was part of the Olympic Park and players lived in the athlete villages. In 2012, we stayed in the Lille Grand Palais, which was similar to a convention center, and our players mostly stayed in hotels in town. In Tokyo, we expect to use one of the Olympic venues.”

Hsiang has noted that cities interested in hosting mind sports should reach out to local or national organizations for different games and inquire about the possibilities of hosting.

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