View Full Version : Best way to encourage online registration
09-15-2007, 05:16 PM
My husband and I have just started as co-race directors of a local 5K & 10K race with about 1600 participants. We would like to encourage more online registrations next year. Right now, our entry fee is $17 for early registration and $20 for late registration. My thought was to raise the entry a few dollars, but absorb the active.com fee. Is it better to advertise "$20 for everyone but no service fee for online registration" or have the participant pay the active.com fee but advertise "$17 for online registration, $20 for mail in"? I know it comes out the same, but which sounds better? :) Any other ideas on how to get people to register online? Maybe a drawing for a prize from all online registrants? These were SO much easier to handle this year than all those paper forms. We can't eliminate the paper entirely, and will still have all our late registrations at packet pick-up be on paper. We had about 400 register online this year with no incentives. Thanks to those who put this forum together - wish I'd found it earlier!
09-15-2007, 08:47 PM
Most races tend to let the consumer absorb the on-line provider fee. I believe a lower entry fee for on-line registrations might drive people to register on line - or perhaps you could absorb the on-line provider fee and charge a surcharge for mail-in registration due to extra processing costs. Certainly eligibility for a special prize available to on-line entrants only might help. If you are distributing a lot of printed entry forms, you might want to make sure that the on-line entry process is clearly and prominently outlined on the printed entry form itself. I assume you are emailing all of your previous year's entrants with a link to register on-line. If not, that would be another effective way to get them to enter on-line.
I also assume that your event has its own unique website with an easy link to the on-line registration form.
Those are my thoughts. I am sure the use of on-line will increase with each passing year, but some of these suggestions might accelerate the process.
09-16-2007, 08:03 PM
Thanks very much for your input. Maybe I should advertise $17 for online and $21 for mail in. That way there is a net additional cost of $1 for mail-in for the entrants (if I did $17 & $20, we would receive $3 more for the mail-in applications, but the cost to the entrants would be the same, so might not be as effective).
We also have team competitions. Is it harder to match up teams when people register online and each member maybe doesn't put in the exact same team name?
In the past, we've had no race day registration. I was thinking to perhaps offer this year for people to be able to register on race day but with the understanding that they won't get a chip or be timed. Any thoughts on that?
I appreciate your help!
09-17-2007, 03:27 AM
Aside from pricing strategies, another technique that I use to advocate online registration is to make mail in registration less accessible.
Specifically, I do not include a mail in form for some of my events in the promotional brochures. To mail in a form, they literally have to go to the event website, download a pdf, print it, fill it out and mail it in. In addition to pushing the participants towards online registration, it also frees up space in the brochure for more content about the event.
I charge less for online registration (usually a dollar for regular races where the entry fee is $10-12, more if it's for a higher-priced event/series) but let the runner pay the fee (I use AllSportCentral.com). My thinking is that when the runner looks at the flyer or website and sees the lower fee, it registers immediately how much they'll be saving. "Event pays online fee" isn't as concrete or defined - some people might think it's only a few cents and figure it's not worth it.
You could also do away with paper entries entirely. We did that at our 4th of July race this year. It's our biggest event by far and I thought we might be shooting ourselves in the foot, but the end result was the biggest field in the history of the race. You can't believe how nice it is to not have to make copies, then go to races and stick them on windshields or hand them out at the end of the chutes.
I do think that's still necessary for new events, however, until they're established in the public's mind.
09-17-2007, 07:37 AM
For a Christmas race I used to direct, I did advertise that the race would absorb the fee. We did increase the reg price slightly to cover the extra costs, so both online and mail in paid the same, but the online saved the stamp. We advertised that fact as well. Our online entries went way up as compared to the mail in from the previous years. Emailing past registrants also works to encourage using the technology as it is fast and easy.
Once last note. Even if you do not increase any costs, I have found that many people register for the race online who do not come and run. I think the ease of registering may attribute to this. Bottom line though is you are gaining additional dollars from runners who never come, so this also offsets some of the processing costs should you decide to absorb them yourself.
09-17-2007, 02:04 PM
My suggestion is along the lines of Sean Ryan's: don't include the registration form when you mail out the race brochure to your mailing list recipients. In fact, a postcard with the basic details (what, when, where) that also invites people to visit the website where they can register is even better because the postage costs are lower. Another 'incentive' is to offer the option to upgrade to a technical race shirt and make this option available only to online registrants.
09-18-2007, 03:50 PM
Here ya go:
1) Ask your vendor for a lower transaction rate. This is negotiable.
2) Set your entry fee to accomodate the online registration transaction fee. This is no different than any other race expense or line item, only now you need to build your trans fee into your entry price.
3) Raise your paper fee by $3-$5. Pay yourself for processing paper.
4) Market to your runners a discount to register online vs. paper.
5) Grab your race db from years prior, and any other races your produce to:
> Email a simple message with a link to the online form in the message.
> Communicate the discount for online registration.
> Date and time.
6) Do not isolate those that do prefer paper. A pdf should be appropriate on your site, and really that is it. You really should not have to print a ton of applications.
09-18-2007, 03:55 PM
Also, make sure there are no minimum fees that you have to pay - like $3.00.
Example - $20 entry x 6.5% + $1.00 = $2.30. You pay $3.00, not $2.30 since it falls below the threshold (if there is a minimum).
09-21-2007, 11:20 AM
Thanks, everyone, for the great suggestions. I'm sitting here surrounded by 1,200 paper race applications, inputting the e-mail addresses onto a spreadsheet so that next year I can send everyone a link to register online. I've started a contest for funny e-mail addresses to entertain myself while I'm doing this. So far my favorites are "email@example.com" and "firstname.lastname@example.org". The worst one so far is "email@example.com".:eek:
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