Is PreRace.com Snowshoe Racing’s Olympic Leap?

In an alliance that may rank in importance with the birth of the United States Snowshoe Association’s National Championships, and the association’s multi-year full-race sponsorship by the visionary Dion Snowshoes, PreRace.com explodes on the scene with the opportunity to drive membership growth and provide deeper support for the burgeoning championship race schedule.

Already the qualifying race schedule has surged in this new season by 50 percent, leading to the Frisco DION United States Snowshoe Association (USSSA) National Snowshoe Championships, February 24-26, 2012. Adding the state snowshoe championships as qualifiers for this season will push the total north of 40 qualifiers for the 2013 Nationals.

This kind of growth like in any entrepreneurial enterprise needs infrastructure. PreRace.com brings that to the USSSA in the following ways:

Online Event Registration and Marketing Services     

In the Spring of 2010, PreRace launched with their first year calculated from September of 2010 to 2011. From the get-go, the site grew to approximately 275 events in its first year giving a strong clue that something good is going on here. With competition on the large side headed by giant Active.com, and plenty of regional and state-wide registration services, the question is what does PreRace bring to the table to account for this strong launch. Vice President of Sales Lucas McCain answers, “customer service,” a reply that covers his constituency of race directors and competitors.

“Our goal is to have a single platform for the participants,” he explained, “but provide the race director a robust set of tools,” which drive participation by making it easy for the competitor to respond. For example, “we use a customized confirmation email, giving the race director a tangible benefit for sponsors since those emails have a virtual 100 percent read.”

In addition the event’s listing at PreRace contains a direct link to their website with no special account requirements or extra charges. McCain explains “(We) want to promote their event for the race.”

One race I’ll identify as “X Race” is a typical event, no special distance or location highlights. “X” had 980 entrants in 2010. Working with PreRace and their marketing efforts, the growth for 2011 blew away the industry’s norm of 10 percent growth to an astounding 1,400 or so entrants; call it better than a 40 percent gain. You think that race director and team aren’t happy? When one realizes that many of the dollars earned through snowshoe qualifiers go to important charities and disease funds, the importance of that growth is even more significant.

PreRace’s experience allows them to understand the different marketing techniques for a 5 kilometer road race versus a six-day endurance event. They feature “registration analytics” providing critical and often otherwise unavailable information. A chart reflecting registrations by day is coordinated with the marketing program so a tie-in is established for the race director showing the impact of an e-mail broadcast. Since these emails are targeted, the response is an outstanding 70 percent – pretty incredible results.

Specific discounts targeting affinity groups like college students are easy to add and change driving participation and registrations.

In recessions businesses fail; where money is owed the prospect of recovering more than a smattering of the amount due is low. And yes, in the registration world, that’s exactly what has happened. A registration is entered for a competitor, the funds deposited, spent by the online site that then fails. Say goodbye to your little friend, the dough.

PreRace not only understands this, but also that events need their funds as they go, to pay bills and the myriad of activities required to stage a race. “Funds are transferred (to the races) when you want, and as many times as you want without any additional charge,” McCain explained. “It helps with the liquidity of the event.”

Communication

PreRace has two masters: the race directors and the athletes. The approach here is laser-scoped, providing quick responses to questions or inquiries with human voices or e-mail messages. “We value customer service and questions; typically a call-back is under one hour. Most race directors don’t do this full time, so for example they have access to me on Saturday afternoons when they may be working on their events.”

To Come?

An advanced feature for race directors will be a “white label registration” that is a fully integrated part of their race sites providing a professional registration without leaving the host. McCain pointed out, “This will help with the confidence of the users while providing tangible rewards for brand reinforcement of sponsors, and for the USSSA, too. It will look sleek.” Plus, the automation of the software provides an effortless standard; no hands, no fuss.

Using PreRace.com

Snowshoers are an active group of athletes enjoying sports of many varied and types with locations that fit the demands of the activity. PreRace offers categories such as cycling, multi-sport, running, winter further cross referencing them, dividing them between the states. Also, a full list of their class of registered events is alpha-available. Sports are also subdivided, such as running where categories include ultra, a full complement of distances, collegiate, then the terrific “other” listings. I found the Las Vegas Santa Run there featuring 10,000 running Santas photographed along with Santa Showgirl Helpers. Hold up! I’m on my way!

A user then can click on the category to find a specific activity or enjoy scrolling down the dates for your state as I did to locate dates and races that might fit. Information for races who aren’t yet registering through PreRace is easily available, too, just like those who are. So, the site becomes usable for a wider scope of events.

The registration process is straight forward, easy, and isn’t garbled through a page full of distracting ads.

Additionally, for the merchandising-minded races, the opportunity to offer branded goods at the time of registration is available, a cool idea to provide more revenue, more vision to the sponsors, and for the athlete, a key to focus training. Nothing like having that name hung on the door to keep one’s mind on the challenge.

Your registration can be synced to your other calendars. Personalized donation pages are available. If someone wants to donate in your name, that can be done; or, if a goal requirement is established by the race, that can be done.

“Our company is dynamic and flexible so if the event has any special need, we can make it happen,” Lucas said.

For more information on PreRace.com and its snowshoe event lineup, visit http://www.prerace.com/races/tab/snowshoe/0/snow-shoe-calendar.

This entry was posted in Features, Snowshoe Racing by Phillip Gary Smith. Bookmark the permalink.
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About Phillip Gary Smith

Phillip Gary Smith, Senior Editor, published "The 300-Mile Man" about Roberto Marron's historic doubling of the Tuscobia 150 mile endurance snow run. He publishes "iHarmonizing Competition" on various forms of competition, including drag racing, his favorite motorsport. Earlier, he wrote "HARMONIZING: Keys to Living in the Song of Life" as a manual for life with chapters such as Winning by Losing, Can God Pay Your Visa Bill?, and a young classic story, The Year I Met a Christmas Angel. His book, "Ultra Superior," is the first written on the Superior Trail ultra-distance events. He mixes writing with his profession--the venture capital world--a dying art. He is a creator of CUBE Speakers, a group espousing themes in "HARMONIZING: Keys" in a unique way. Currently, he has two books in the works. Write to him at Phillip@ultrasuperior.com, or find him on Twitter or Facebook @iHarmonizing.

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