In reference to TO and the expense budget. I certainly understand your dismay at the recent event you were at. There is a large reason a local venue does have great prize support generally. That reason is that GW currently reimburses most of these LGS up to $150 for product support for tournaments they run. This is big. If the LGS didn't get this, chances are they wouldn't run the event in the first place, or would run fewer and with less support.
Next, I have to say I would rather have a plaque then models. At some point, you won't remember where you got the models from or which exact ones they were. The memory of your accomplishment will go away. With a plaque or trophy, you will have something that always says what you did that day. Quality trophies can cost from $10 for something basic and cheap to $50+. Venue space is also a cost. I didn't here where the event was, but this can be huge as the venue space that we, as TOs need is competing for Wedding/Event/Party money which is very lucrative for most venues (at $500-1000 per day quite often).
However, I do agree that if there is an increase in the cost that the TOs try to do something that increases the enjoyment of the event. The least expensive thing to do is to make terrain, though it takes some skill to make truly stunning terrain. Still, for as little as $100 investment you could increase and make much better terrain then what you have in previous years for the event. It is one of the areas of focus for me when I run Merry Mayhem in Madison, WI. I want to include new terrain that looks better every year, which should help players get excited to come to the event to see what I have come up with for the next year. From a TO that takes several hundred dollars in loss every time he runs his event, credit should be given for the things that were done well and feedback should be given directly to the TO.
I do want to note that it the event could have done more for the players that came that could have been included and helped the event out. From the sounds of things, things could have been run better.
[Last edited Jan 23, 2012 18:38:34]