Thursday, March 27, 2014

Pre-Registration. What's the Point?


Is it just me or does it seem like most races are penalizing for not pre-registering online. What's the penalty? Entry fee increases $5-$10 if you don't commit early. I realize most promoters want to get as many participants committed as soon as possible since they have money & labor invested in running an event. I realize weather can totally ruin participant turnout so it's always a risk for the promoter. But the customer/participant getting penalized seems like the wrong approach to me. Shouldn't it be the other way around? How about a small discount for pre-registering online. The promoter gets commitment by way of dollars and the racer catches a small break for committing early. I might be missing something but it seems like pre-reg., only benefits the promoter and is used to penalize it's potential participants. What are the benefits for the racer? Is it any quicker? In most cases not. You still have to wait in line to sign a waiver and get your number. Not much difference. Is it cheaper? Don't even get me started on the fee for registering online. Insult to injury.

Now...having said that I'm super grateful that we have so many quality events in Arkansas and over the last couple of years new people with great ideas for races are promoting new events. That's really cool and a sign that the sport is growing. For me, it's not about a couple of bucks saved. More so, it's the feeling of getting pushed around over a couple of bucks. When the dust settles, participants are the customers. We are paying to play and someone is making money. I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject. Maybe I'm way off base. Leave a comment below.

28 comments:

Jason Evans said...

Rob, I tried giving a discount for early registration last year. It doesn't work....racers just do not sign up early. Just look at the spring classic registration. The CAT 3's didn't start registering until 3/21. As you probably know, there is so much overhead, it is unreal....plus, with online registration, people are able to use credit cards. What do you think? Should promoters eat that part of overhead too? I'm just curious of your thoughts. Great write-up. Definitely food for thought.

Robin Grunnagle said...

Jason, thanks for commenting. Your example of this weekend’s race is perfect (it is a fantastic race by the way). Our team put out an email about the deadline and we all registered. I just think that promoters encouraging early commitment should figure out a way to give incentive not a penalty. What about a small discount for signing up early deadline, followed up by a deadline with a small increase closer to the event? Regarding online fee, I lean toward that being absorbed (or how about split) by the promoter. At the very least it should be clearly stated that the entry for registering online is different. It seems like as a promoter, to figure out a way to have more participants committed early at a slight discount would be worth its weight in gold. How to do that is the forty dollar question. At HK this year as you know the weather was awful and if it wasn't for the 80 folks pre-registered our team would have taken a loss. We had about 50 (kudos to them!) of the 80 at the start line. It’s an interesting subject and I think at the end of the day the focus should be about building good relationships between promoters & participants.

Keith Sams said...

They prefer to think of it as a "discount" to sign up early, not a penalty for signing up late. In many cases, like Disney's half marathon's the savings is substantial ($40+). Those fees, on the other hand, are ridiculous. If you had to pay $3 everytime you used an ATM you would find a new bank.

Jim McDonald said...

The ubiquitous, and sinister, "No refunds" footnote is one of the reasons cyclists don't preregister. My personal reason is superstition--preregistering is the kiss of death; once you preregister something bad is gonna happen to keep you from being able to show up.

Keith Sams said...

I'll admit that I'm a last minute person...more so for the "no refunds" than anything. I'm just not a fan of riding in pouring rains or sleet. I have one bike and I need it to function. That being said, I won't "absorb the impact" with my body to save the bike the next time I crash at 40mph in Colorado.

Jim McDonald said...

This is a serious grass-roots topic that deserves attention from the upper-echelons of USA cycling, but I don't see it happening.

Joshua Hayes said...

Seems like an argument of semantics. You are calling it a penalty for signing up later/day of, or one could view it as a discount for signing up early. Simply change the wording and leave the prices the same calling it an early sign up discount.

Heath Banning said...

I'm with Keith on this one. I am definitely last minute signing up as I never know if I will even get the opportunity to race. It was very hard for me to register for the Ouachita Challenge back in December as I didn't know what l'd be doing this April nor still do I but with all the financial obligations a race promoter has its their discretion to set deadlines/caps/and close registration etc. And like Rob said it is a big gamble to hold an event and its nice having some upfront revenue. I think a pre-registration discount is a great idea to be an incentive for the early birds but there should not be late fees for bike races. We have late fees everywhere else in life, why a late fee for showing up to have fun/get workout in. It's a fine line of encouraging racers/growing attendance, and keeping everyone happy and we all know that is very difficult to balance all those aspects.

Josh Estes said...

Tough call. I can say at big races, fields of 100 or more, it's a necessity.

Heath Banning said...

And definitely like Josh Hayes' idea of rearranging wording. It's amazing how discounts help motivate people and how people don't like penalties for being late.

Anonymous said...

I am ok with the fees. I think "No Refund" is a bigger issue. If there were at least an option to transfer your entry to another race, that would be helpful. Ironman is finally taking that step this year. They will allow you to transfer once, which is a huge step at those costs.

Gustavo Gomez said...

$10 dollar pre-registration discount a week before the race, I would risk registering and wait for good weather and health. $5 fee.. nah.. I take my chances registering during race day. Bad weather, I am out

Scott Walnofer said...

Create a legitamite price difference and you would get pre-reg's. Taking HK2014 for example. Sign up early for $20 and day of $35. Or NWA Spring Classic, day of $50 and early reg $30.

Make a real incentive for the racer and he/she will risk the lower cost and be less afraid to eat it if weather tanks the event. I think we all know at least 5 days out if we are going to race an event or not, most start eating extra spaghetti's by then.

Ryan Johnson said...

I agree that I feel like "late fee" is the wrong approach. Late for what? I show up on race day, and I'm there on the start line. That ain't late. Sure, maybe it's semantics, but most folks would rather get an incentive to act fast than get a penalty for being too slow.
And there's another subject. How much is too much to charge for a single day race? I think $50 is too much. Call me cheap if you want.
Thoughts?

Keith Sams said...

200 and counting for the NWA Spring Classic Road Race. There are going to be some competitive fields in this one. Weather continues to look perfect except for a bit of wind.

Joshua Hayes said...

Scott is on to something, that is a good point to make it more enticing to register early. The early bird discount.

Ill agree with Ryan about the amount, 50$ is a bit steep. 30-40 seems to be the sweet spot imo.

Robin Grunnagle said...

I'm glad Ryan brought up $50 entry fees. Ouch! Is cycling the new golf? I don't think so. I also think Scott has a great idea. Legitimate distinction/incentive to commit early. I like it! Might be a great way to capture the early bird racer. Good stuff, thanks for sharing folks!

Mark Griesse said...

Agree with you Ryan, late for what!? $50 is pushing absurdity on an entry fee too. I would somewhat understand if you were getting some cool swag (not a t-shirt or water bottle), but you start charging $50 for a local RR and you are going to be pricing out people who have to travel from out of town. Probably some newbies as well. Payout is not even that great either. Not that we race for payout, but just saying...

None the less it will be fun and the sun will hopefully be shining!

Robin Grunnagle said...

I want to be clear. This is not an attack. My intention is not directed specifically at any one event or promoter. This is a general observation on the entire community including our own races. My hope was that some valuable ideas would come from it and I think we have some good ones. Thanks!

Joshua Hayes said...

In reference to NW AR Spring Classic, this is a great event to support some local younger riders so I feel it is money well spent. Anything to increase young peoples interest and ability to ride/race

Robin Grunnagle said...

I agree 100%. Great race and good cause. The timing of this post was not directed at the NWASC. This is something I've been thinking on for awhile.

Joshua Hayes said...

Speaking of which, you see Eucha? Its 65$ the day of!

Robin Grunnagle said...

Dang!

Anonymous said...

I don't give a damn what they do, so longer as no refunds are the usual policy then I will register on race day.

No exceptions.

Gustavo Gomez said...

Eucha is a perfect example of worthless late registration fees. My sweet point to race $40 being late.

$60? I would have followed the radar Sunday morning, but I am 100% positive I am not going to try to go.

Robin Grunnagle said...

I hear ya G. It seems extreme. But I do like Scott's point about making the difference significant. I wish it were the other way around. $40 day of and $25 pre-reg.

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