For Mark Miller, the CEO of Ticketsocket, the registration provider for multiple road and OCR races including Spartan and Savage Race the COVID-19 pandemic has seen an epic shift in the race registration mindset.
“The event-based industry is going to change forever,” Miller said. “If races don't change with this they are going to have a hard time going forward.”
Miller has watched as other race registration companies have changed their policies regarding access to funds and data during the crises including the decision by EventBrite to hold all funds from races until after the race takes place. That policy has severely affected smaller race companies' ability to plan for future events after the crises. He has also watched as registration companies use the data that races have brought in to market competing races that are also on that platform.
“This time should be empowering race directors to make some changes on who controls their money and their data,” Miller said.
“One of the more important lessons that arose amid this pandemic is control over money. It’s vital that your ticketing solution and e-com store function under your own merchant processor. This way, your funds can never be frozen or held for some time. This also allows you to get scrappy and keep some cash flow coming in during a time like this by leveraging a virtual aspect.,” Miller shared.
When it comes to data, Miller shared that it is important for race directors to have control over their data and use it to continue to market to their customers but not in the way they would normally think.
“Another essential item to review is control of your data. Who owns your customer data? Are you sharing customer data? At a time like this, when communication with your customers is vital – assuring, you are the sole owner of your customer data. It is critical. This is vital for two particular reasons: 1) are you able to properly leverage your database of customers and prospects to market to them in this time of need to purchase tickets to virtual events, gift cards, retail items. Now is not the time to ‘go dark’ on your audience, and 2) if your data is shared, is someone else now communicating to your customers about what refunds will look like or possibly even marketing to the new virtual events they could purchase instead that compete with yours?” Miller shared.
He strongly recommended that race companies do not go dark during the pandemic, but they look for ways to focus on their community and keeping them engaged. He also recommended that races do not hesitate in converting to virtual events or offering virtual events to their community to keep them engaged and motivated.
“Race organizers who have figured out how to take their event virtual will come out strong during this epidemic.” Miller said “Instead of asking yourself, “How can I make my race experience and make it virtual?” ask, “How can I keep my community and customers engaged online in new ways? By reframing the questions, this allows you to be more creative and not limit yourself. We, at TicketSocket, have seen all kinds of events create a virtual aspect. One that you just don’t think could happen without people being physically there.”
He encourages the racing community and race directors not to give up, he agrees their needs to be a shift in the mindset in the community.
He offered the following advice to race directors who are wondering what the next step should be.
- Audit your control. Things feel out of control right now. Do not shy away from this. Look at where you do not have control in your business and solve for it. Now more than ever, it is vital to have FULL control over your brand, money, data, and technology. These are the core principals we preach at TicketSocket and a pain point we’ve heard way too much over the past couple of weeks as we consult with event organizers.
- Tend to your marketing. Now is not the time to go dark. HowToMarketMyEvent.com is currently hosting a boot camp for free to support event organizers – especially race and OCR organizers – on what works and what doesn’t in the racing industry. Use this time to set up a solid foundation and assure you have every competitive advantage coming out of this crisis. Remember, your competitor is not another OCR, it is OTHER events, and the competition will be fierce when this is over. People will not know how to spend their time when they come out of quarantine! There is so much they will want to do, make sure your message does not get lost in the noise.
- Go virtual. Do not fight it. Those who figure out how to engage their community online will have no problem bouncing back when this is over. Get creative. If you are not sure how to monetize and charge for a virtual event, start somewhere – even if you are doing free Instagram Lives daily. Get comfortable because this will become the new norm.
Miller has offered his team at Ticketsocket to work with any race company, customers of theirs or not to help advise and guide through this crisis. All they need to do is reach out via the Ticketsocket website.