This is a guest post by Rick Jenner, Client Services Director at Freestak: the endurance sports agency.
What does the future hold for the industry – where will there be opportunities and what’s the next big thing?
To find out we spoke to 8 prominent industry experts from around the globe (including Australia, UK, Ireland, Germany, Brazil, Argentina and US) to explore the challenges they face and how they see the future of the industry. We’ve compiled the findings in our comprehensive Race Event Workbook, which you can now download for free. This blog post is the final instalment of a three-part series reviewing the main themes from the report.
In our second blog post we explored the challenges event organisers face today and how they’re overcoming them. In the third post of this series, we will be looking forward to what the future may hold for race events and what their lasting impact may be.
The worlds of sport and entertainment collide
Participants will increasingly seek out exciting experiences from sport. Almost as important is the ability for them to share these experiences with their friends, whether via participation as a group or on social media. Event organisers will need to provide this experience and use it to differentiate themselves. That means the creation of new race formats (whilst signalling the end for others), ensuring a better experience throughout the customer journey (pre, during and post event) whilst going to greater lengths to appeal to those seeking a new challenge.
“Sport is the journey, the event is the celebration. Create great events worth training for.” (Matthias Ernst, Xletix, Germany)
“People will go great distances for an iconic experience. What was once niche will become commonplace.” (Tom Kerry, Limelight Sports, UK)
Event organisers will also need to consider the experience for spectators who, on occasion, can be overlooked. Established sporting events that fail to deliver a compelling physical and digital experience for all may only appeal to a traditional audience or even lose participants as other races turn heads.
New audiences will boost participation
As well as the popularity of the shared sporting experience, another reason for increased participation is the focus on public health. Governments have started to address the long-term impact of inactivity and identify attractive and accessible ways for people to become more active. As a result, more informal sporting events are being conceived. Growth in participation will be particularly evident amongst women and people pre-family, leading to increased popularity of some sports and the decline of other formats.
“We’re expecting growth in sports like trail running, but decline in multi-sport races that have high cost and training demands.” (Mariano Álvarez, TMX Team, Argentina)
“As an industry we worry too much about what our competitors are doing and not enough about how to acquire new runners. Making sure you’re at the forefront of the market means appealing to the existing market and new demographics that haven’t run before.” (Tanner Bell, Ragnar Events, USA)
Informal, accessible, community-based activities like parkrun will gain greater public and government support. Fun, social, digital-friendly events offering a great end-to-end experience will also flourish.
Increased demands from stakeholders
It is not only customers who have high expectations. Pressure will increase from all parties involved in sponsoring, promoting and regulating events, particularly in areas such as health & safety and environmental sustainability. New companies will enter the market to take advantage of the potential benefits of being involved in event organisation.
“People expect more and more for their money. The more competition there is for the events, the more people can demand. Perceived value for money can be a significant challenge to the event organiser, as events have huge hidden costs.” (Penny Matkin-Hussey, Cycling Australia)
“Environmental sustainability is becoming more important – it’s now really important to maintain good relationships with people who look after places like national parks.” (Oliver Kirwan, Elite Event Management, Ireland)
In spite of the pressures around cost, and a need for growth and differentiation, our experts are optimistic that the future for race events is bright.
As participation grows there will be opportunity to engage with those new to sport. They come with very different expectations, and it has never been more critical to understand what your participants expect. With new tools and technologies at their disposal, there has never been a better time for event organisers to deliver a standout experience.
You can now download our free Race Event Workbook, a definitive guide to take your event to the next level.