Nov 9, 2012 9:51 PM
Event Websites in Our Changing World of Technology, Social Media & Accommodating the Traveling Athlete - by Nicole Blomgren of Fifty States Half Marathon Club
Attract theTraveling Athletes to Your Event
As new Marathons, Half Marathons, Triathlons and many other events continue to pop up all over like aspreading fire, the importance of knowing your audience is key. As Founder and President of Fifty States HALF Marathon Club and being a key contributor to the endurance event industry and Half Marathon race calendars on the web, I myself couldn't be more frustrated with an event website when I land on the web page and can't even find the city and state on the homepage of the event (ironically similar to online newspaper sites). Sometimes even the date of the event, or the year of the event, is missing from the homepage and you have to dig for it buried in other sub-pages.
Race organizers and Race Directors creating a website sometimes seem to create their website catering to believing that most participants are local and already know where the race is. The growing popularity of the traveling athlete, desire to travel to various states or countries to participate in events, makes information on the event website valuable to attain market share to the traveling athlete.
TIPS FOR RACE DIRECTORS AND EVENT ORGANIZERS TO CREATE INFORMATIVE TOP NOTCH EVENT WEBSITES
CHECKLIST FOR THE "MUST HAVES" ON HOMEPAGE
1) City& State (You'd be surprised how many event sites do not have this. Very frustrating for non-local participants and maintaining national race calendar sites).
2) Date of event (believe it or not there are a lot of sites that do not have this on their home page and participants have to dig for it).
3) The DAY of the event is also very helpful (ie: Saturday or Sunday).
4) ALL Race distances (Marathon, half marathon, 5k, etc) listed on "homepage", not buried in other links to figure out if there are various other distances in addition to the main event distance.
5) A CLEAR and CONCISE website link to "EXACT LOCATION" with FULL ADDRESS.
Most participants that are not local have to do a lot of extra work to find the location because event organizers do not put the address of the event location anywhere in the website. Participants like to use online maps or utilize GPS in their car or rental car when traveling, to locate the event, so I can't emphasize enough how important a "full address" is of the event location.
6) And finally, having a "race date" planned well in advance, ideally one year ahead. Many traveling athletes plan their race calendar one year in advance. The sooner you have the date published on your website, the sooner it is updated on sites like Halfmarathonsearch.com ,and the sooner athletes can add that race to their race calendar for their travel plans. We start looking for new race dates a year in advance when updating our race calendar website.
NICE TO HAVES
In addition to the "must haves," social media and various websites definitely follow as "nice to haves" on an event website. Connecting with the running community, triathlon community, and other athletic event communities on sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Blogs,Running Clubs or Goal Achieving Clubs like Fifty States HALF Marathon Club ,etc. (where participants can read about feedback about the course, connect with others about their experience of the event in past years, and join thecommunity of others who will be participating in the upcoming event and share the excitement of the anticipation), and partnering with Race Calendar sites (advertising your event where the community looks for the best race to attend), can all go a long way in increasing participants and giving visibility to your event.
INEXPENSIVE OPTIONS TO HAVING A WEB PRESENCE OR WEBSITE FOR YOUR EVENT
For smaller local community events who do not keep an all year round web page for the specific event, like some of theYMCA's, YWCA's I've noticed, or events just starting out, this ALL can be accomplished at NO COST or very little cost. Race Organizers can create a one page Blog in Google Blogger to appear almost exactly like a website (kind of like our official blog http://halfmarathonclub.blogspot.com but "without the ongoing content added", and leave this posted with all the above mentioned "must have" checklist" posted on the BLOG. This is FREE, and at least gives your event its own identity and a place forthe public to look for the details of the event. You can then share your bloglink via Facebook or twitter, and with race calendar sites. This can be a valuable tool to at least avoid your participants having to click on an expired Active event listing from previous years, with no event site to go to for future details. Another very inexpensive means for an ongoing event site is Yahoo business. It is inexpensive and you can create your own website within an hour with their easy to use templates, walking you through step by step how to set up your website, allowing your event to have its own domain you choose.
In summary, the number of events popping up will continue to grow and the market will remain competitive. Even though the trends show there is no shortage of participants in the ever-growing events such as marathons, half marathons, or triathlons, it is still important to be aware of the "user experience" you are providing your participants, startingf rom the very first step of when that individual visits your website and decides if it is an event they would like to add to their calendar for the year.
© copyright 2012 Nicole Blomgren & Fifty States Half Marathon Club LLC