16 Mar 2017

8 reasons why your race participants don’t come back

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Why your race participants don’t come back


A large number of participants at your race are most likely people that have taken part in your event before. So when they don’t come back, it’s not only going to hurt your pride but your bank balance as well.


While it may be easy to point the finger at external factors, it’s worth taking a look internally to see if there is anything you can do to stop customers going elsewhere.


In today’s blog, we look at 8 potential reasons why your race participants are going elsewhere.


A lot of competition


Let’s start with the obvious. If there’s competition in your locale and they have a better value proposition for your customers, then expect a migration away fro your event.


There’s nothing you can do about competition, it’s always going to be there. But what you can do is keep your ear to the ground and understand how your competitor’s events differ/compare to yours. Keep track of their pricing, location, USPs, attendance levels and social media accounts. The more you analyse and understand what your competitors are up to, the more informed decisions you should be able to make about your customers.


For example, if a competitor adds a 10km option to their marathon route and has through the roof attendance levels, then maybe it’s an idea that you do the same. Whilst we would all rather create trends than follow them, sometimes the tried and tested model works by popular demand.


Delivering on what you promise


If you’re promising the world in your online campaigns, you’d better be damn sure that you’re delivering on those promises. One of the quickest ways to turn people away is to not deliver on what they expect. Especially if it’s something that you have promised to include.


We aren’t saying that you should undersell your race, not by any means. But anything that you do promote, make sure that you can deliver on those promises.


Pick out a few USP’s of your event that you think could make a splash in your upcoming campaign. Focus on these as opposed to listing every feature that your race may have. Chose something that your competitors aren’t focusing on to try and stand out from the crowd.


No rewards


This is a point that specifically applies to the endurance event market, you need post-race rewards. This has become a huge trend in current years with just about every race offering racers some form of post-race reward. This can be a medal, a piece of merchandise like clothing or maybe a nice cold beer.


As sad as it may be, if you aren’t offering some sort of prize for finishers, there will be another event that certainly will. We touched upon the craze for race bling in our blog where we discuss the rise of virtual challenges.


Unless you’re a hardcore racer, purely competing for the enjoyment, it has become custom to receive some type of prize.


You aren’t evolving


Just like everything else in life, if we repeat something over and over, we will inevitably get bored. This is why you need to keep your race fresh and introduce new elements where possible.


We understand that changing a venue or course isn’t going to be an option, and it doesn’t have to be. Just small tweaks here and there can provide your event with the refreshing annual twist it needs.


A couple of ideas of tweaks to make:

– Amend the course route slightly

– Sign up some new sponsors or partners

– Give away different post race goodies

– Invest in pre and post race activities

– Support a different charity or foundation

– Change your online pre and post race activity

– Add new elements or obstacles depending on your event type


You’re evolving too much


Leading on from the last point, have you ever had a favourite meal at a restaurant and they suddenly go and change the recipe? It’s the most frustrating thing ever.


Whilst you want to be evolving with the times, you don’t want to be completely overhauling your event annually and losing the character of why customers chose you in the first place.


Try and follow up each event with post-race surveys and find out what customers love and why they chose your event. If it isn’t broke, you don’t need to fix it!


Constant price increases


This is something that we see quite often from more established race organisers. Just because you have established yourself in the market and have loyal customers doesn’t justify increasing your prices annually.


Sure, there are certainly reasons to increase your prices and no one should fault you for doing so if done responsibility. But even the most loyal participants will start to look elsewhere if you keep demanding more to enter your race. A little transparency can go a long way when it comes to a price increase. Keep your customers in the loop and let them know why you need to increase the price, especially if you are adding a new element to your race.


A great way to ‘hide’ a small hike in entry prices is to use tier based, early bird tickets. Keep the costs the same for those who are regulars at the event who are most likely to purchase tickets at first announcement. Hold the increased price for those who purchase later as you get closer to the event.


Online experience is lacking


In today’s market, the pre and post race online experience is nearly just as important as the race itself. This means if your social media game isn’t up to par, you could be finding yourself losing customers.


Your online strategy should be woven into your race experience and you must provide something extra for people to engage with your brand in the digital landscape. Race photos, online competitions or blogging are all examples of ways that people can interact with your brand away from the course.


I’m sure we don’t need to tell you that jut about every other event has some form of online presence. If you aren’t there to capture their attention whilst they are browsing social media, you can bet someone else will. If you want to find out how to turn your social channels into a ticket-selling machine, check out our piece on selling more tickets through social.


Treating your most loyal customers like everyone else


If I were a loyal customer of a brand, I would expect some form of gratitude. This isn’t to say that you need to lavish them with praise, but a little personalization could go a long way.


Offer them a discount as a loyal customer, celebrate them on social media or ask for their valued input on your event. As humans, we are fickle beings and will naturally gravitate towards where we are respected and valued. If their custom really is that important to you, you will find a way to engage and bring them into the fold.


Try giving away prizes based on how many events a participant attends. For example, if they attend 3 in a year, give them a branded t-shirt for being such a loyal customer. You can safely assume that if they have booked multiple events with your company, they are a big fan of your brand. Use this loyalty to your advantage with branded gifts that you know they will share over social media giving you more exposure.


There will rarely be a black and white answer as to why your race participants may be going elsewhere, you’d be wise to look at your own event before pointing the finger at the competition.


As an event organiser, you need to be keeping your ear to the ground all the time. By this, we mean your event, customers and competitors. The more data you have about what people like/dislike about your race will serve you well for keeping the masses engaged.


Have you been losing a few race regulars recently? How did you deal with the fallout?