I spoke recently to a group of multisport sponsors at the USA Triathlon Partner Summit in Tempe, Az. As you may know, USAT is making an all-out effort to reverse a flattening of the registration curve the sport has experienced in recent years. The same flattening trend has been noted in distance running, to an even greater extent. In fact, my presentation in Tempe borrowed heavily from a talk I gave at last year’s Road Race Management Conference, to an audience of race directors. My basic point: the endurance audience has shifted in recent years from a purist, nothing-but-the-basics, flat-and-fast approach, to one in which experience, not PRs, is the primary driver. Great racing and astounding competition at the front of the pack and in every age group, will always be with us. But the bills are now being paid by folks who participate for reasons that have little to do with high levels of physical performance. They’re in it for fun, camaraderie, social engagement, charitable involvements, personal fulfillment. Advancement into the competitive ranks may simply not be a desired outcome.
In Tempe, I took things to a different level, explaining how, while “The Athlete Experience” is critically important, most rece directors are not equipped to provide it. Reasons include a lack of financial resources, a too-full event calendar requiring a check-the-box approach to event production, and/or a simple lack of marketing experience.
My suggestion is that sponsors are in a position to help. By forming symbiotic multi-year partnerships at the local or regional level, multisport sponsors will not only encourage the development of more compelling participant experiences, they can further their own marketing objectives while helping to drive increased participation.
It’s an approach worth consideration. My presentation to USAT is below.
Until next time. Be well — MP