3 Ways To Beat Late Registrations

In this article you will get useful ideas on how you can prevent late registrations for your race, and fill up your spots early in the season to allow for proper planning. See tips in video format:

In the beginning of the year, shortly after the pandemic and its restrictions eased in country after country across the world, we first saw an alarming trend that racers seemed to sign up for races later than usual. 

Graph: how long before do you sign up toa race

In a recent survey, we asked over 600 participants when they usually sign up for races, and it seems most people try to keep a few months between their sign up moment and getting on the starting line. Anyhow, as an organizer, you want to do all you can to avoid last-minute registrations. If your racers sign up in time and you fill up your race early in the season – preferably several months before – you can plan the race, merchandise, food, water, goodie bags and more with peace in mind. Here are three proven ways to make participants sign up earlier. 

Create Urgency & Communicate “Limited Spots” 

When asked to comment, several participants added “fear of losing a spot”, “securing a spot in the race” and “tickets sell out fast” as reasons that drive them to sign up early. As with any product or service, if the demand is scarce (or really, the perception of scarce demand), it will drive up the popularity and people will spend more resources and effort to get what they want. Many races have a qualifying procedure or a ballot system, like Xtri and its Norseman for example, that creates a high demand around a limited number of spots. 

Ways you can create a sense of urgency and FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) for participants to sign up this way, is to launch an exclusive pre-sale of limited spots, hype the race in social media, communicate the exact number of spots available and follow up on how fast spots are selling. If you can, show some sort of countdown on your website or next to your registration that there are only a few spots left. Take inspiration from other industries – when you are about to book a hotel on hotels.com or booking.com, they use this technique by displaying messages such as “157 others are viewing this property right now” or “only 2 rooms left at this price”.

Early Bird Pricing: Reward Participants For Signing Up Early 

According to participants themselves, paying a cheaper price for a spot is the best incentive to sign up early. 78% of participants stated this reason as the strongest incentive to sign up early. 

Graph of why participants sigb up earlier poll

However, from statistics viewed on the RaceID platform, the amount of discount matters. If you only make the price difference 5 bucks, participants don’t mind paying extra to sign up later. You have to really make their wallet hurt to buy time – of course, within reason. However, for more expensive races, it is not uncommon to see a 30-40% discount if you sign up within the earliest price bracket. 

When you set Early Bird pricing, make sure you break even or reach your necessary profit goals with the first price you give. Then we recommend you do two additional price increases on a set date. Make sure you communicate these dates well, and make it very clear to participants that they have to pay more if they are late to the sign-up button. 

Another technique that we have seen races use, is to increase the price based on numbers of participants registered. E.g, the 100 first sign-ups get the cheapest price, number 101-500 another and the rest, 501 and above pay the full price. 

You can let your creativity flow – just make sure you communicate the pricing ladders clearly and often! 

Insurances & Policies: Ensure Security At Sign-Up 

In the survey, participants rated insurance add-ons and clear cancellation policies high. You have two options here, to offer participants. 

The first, is to make sure you have a clear terms & conditions policy that participants get to accept when they sign up. An idea is to take out and highlight parts of it related to force majeure and cancellation of the race and what happens with racers’ registration fees. Derived from what happened during the pandemic when many races lacked clear policies and many participants felt robbed of their money, this has come to light as an extra-important aspect of your race preparation.  

A second option, that has become more and more popular and also demanded by participants, is to offer them an option to purchase an individual race insurance at checkout when they register. Such insurances cover the registration fee in case the racer should get sick, injured or in other ways become hindered from participating. At RaceID, we have seen a conversion rate of over 50% with participants purchasing Refundable Booking, our built-in version of racer insurance. 

You can read more about Refundable Booking here, and how it can help you avoid late registrations and add an extra aspect of safety and security to your racers when they sign up to your race.