My Registration Numbers are Down. What Can I Do?

October 12, 2015 - 7 minutes read

This is a question I receive all the time from race directors. Registration numbers are down and directors are looking for that “magic fix” that will attract more participants to their event. Unfortunately, the solution is not that simple.

The rise of themed races has made running “trendy”  which is holding the standard pretty high for your basic running event. Nowadays, not only is the goal to get across the finish line with the best time but you have to maneuver through obstacles, get blasted with colored powder, and dress up in costume in order to do so.  With so much competition, it can be extremely difficult to have a successful race in this saturated market.

So what can you do?

The good news is that more people than ever are running, with 18,750,000 race finishers in the United States in 2014 alone. There may not be a magic fix, but here are a few things you can do to set your event up for success:

Lower Registration Prices

No one ever likes to hear that they should lower their registration prices. I get it, it sucks. From working with race directors, it has been my experience that not many organizations put a ton of thought into the pricing of their event.

You want to make as much money as possible on your event, but a high registration price can deter people from your race. It may be more convenient and less risky to have your participant’s registrations cover most of your race costs; but sponsorships, tiered pricing, and add-on options are a great way to keep registration prices down and still cover all of your costs. The average cost of a race differs greater depending on location, distance, and what is included with the registration (T-Shirt, Swag Bag, After party etc..). With that in mind, I did a little research and found the average cost for an individual registration, by distance, for races that use ZapEvent as their online registration partner.

For those interested to see how your event’s pricing compares to others, here is what I discovered:



Because there are so many different course types and distances, it is a little trickier to calculate the average cost of a Triathlon.  The average Triathlon in the ZapEvent system ranges between $50.00 and $100.00 per individual registration.

Market on Social Media

There are currently 1.06 billion users on Facebook and 200 million users on Twitter. Whoa, take a second to think about that.  Social media has changed the way we communicate and share information with others. Don’t ignore all these potential participants!

I will admit, if you are new to the world of social media it can be a little intimidating. I strongly encourage all organizations to push through their fears and use the power of social media to help promote their event. The best part about social media is that you can get information about your event to a large audience at no cost and very little time commitment.

Download our 30 Tips in 30Minutes Webinar for tips on increasing your organization’s presence on major social media outlets and drive more registrations to your event.

Open Registration Early

It is best practice to open registration for your event to the public as early as possible. The reason behind this is simple; the longer your registration is open, the longer people have to find your event and register for it. Before your event is ready to open registration to the public you must secure three important things; your location, date, and a city approved course. When you have confirmed these items you are ready to open your event for online registration.

Once your event is open for registration, promote it like crazy. A great way to incentivize people to register for your event early is to offer an “Early Bird” special, which allows individuals who register promptly to do so at a discounted price. This is a great opportunity to apply that tiered pricing thing I suggested above!

Discover your Niche 

Instead of trying to keep up with current fads find a new and unique way to attract participants to your event. The truth is that many of these trendy themed races are just fads and will quickly get pushed to the side once a new trend comes along.

For example, a few years ago mud runs and obstacle courses where all the rage. The initial curiosity around the new challenge quickly wore out after athletes competed in one or two races. Currently, the number of mud/ obstacle races outweigh the demand and now registration numbers are down for many organizations as a result. The races that have continued to succeed are those that took the time to make their event unique and built a quality race around that.

A good quality and well-run event will be much more successful and will transform your event into a yearly tradition for runners.

Go the Distance

Are you looking for an easy way to make your race stand out? Increase the distance of your course. In 2014, 5K races made up 54% of the running events in the United States.  By increasing the distance of your race, you will instantly make your race stand out, by eliminating 54% of the competition.

View a breakdown of the number of running events in the United States in 2014:


* 2014 Running Statistics from Running USA powered by Athlinks



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