How Complex is it to Switch Race Registration Systems?

Person jumping over a cliff to illustrate making a change

We have all been there – the point when you have to make a decision whether to leave your comfortable old ways of doing things, or venturing into something new that could make your life easier. Be it with our insurance policies, energy provider, or bank – there’s an inertia built into us that makes it difficult, even painful, to think about the hassle of changing. So we don’t switch. We put up with our niggles until…well, until we’re injured.

The reason many of us don’t make changes is down to the acute stress we feel related to our computations of uncertainty. We would rather stick with the devil we know, rather than face the uncertainty of change. See this 2016 psychological study published in Nature for more in depth understanding of this subject.

Furthermore, Economists have shown that even when we are 50/50 to make a change – ie, we are willing to just flip a coin and follow the outcome – change is still the net-positive thing to do and those that made the change were substantially happier than those that did not.

So is changing your registration platform or system really that painful? Why would you want to change? How long does it take? How much does it cost? Read on, to get some insights.

Why Would I Want to Change Registration Systems?

Here are the Top 5 Reasons Race Organizers Switch Platforms:

  1. The registration process is bad for the participants
    • A bad user experience usually leads to high abandon rates. What’s your abandoned cart rate?
    • The registration process is like a ‘first impression’ for your participants. How does this experience reflect on your organization/race?
  2. The system is outdated and doesn’t get updated
    • Technology develops at a rapid rate. Any system quickly becomes outdated and eventually bugs and breaks without continuous updates
  3. The system lacks key features
    • Basic systems are basic. Advanced or modular systems provide efficiency and flexibility
  4. The time commitment is too high
    • Usually related to the above points, old or basic systems usually require higher time commitments from organizers due to lack of features, support issues and participant problems. This leaves you spending too much time in front of the computer. 
  5. The fees are too costly
    • Platform fees can be costly, but in general, it’s a small percentage of the overall cost of organizing a race. Many race organizers account for costs by passing them down to participants – including offsetting the fee’s from the registration system. This can be appreciated by your participants if they can have a substantially better experience for a low extra cost! Therefore, if you are looking to save money, changing platforms can be effective in cutting costs – especially when combined with any of the above points.

How Long Does it Take to Change Registration Systems?

Different providers will have different timelines – and it’s difficult for us to say exactly what another provider requires. A reasonable timescale to expect is a few working days, total. Any more and you should really start to wonder about the services you are buying into.

Set Up the New System
Oftentimes, changing provider requires you filling out a form, describing your race and asking for a quote. The waiting time for a reply can be lengthy – perhaps weeks. And don’t forget to check your Junk mail. Some providers show pricing online and/or allow you to sign-up and create an account yourself, which is usually a faster process as you can do everything yourself immediately.

Education & Onboarding
This can be very quick and easy in some cases – or it can be very tricky and time consuming. Learning a new system is the uncertainty that causes a lot of organizers the most unwanted stress. Our recommendation is to read around the platform – ask questions in community groups, watch videos and demos and learn through case studies. It’s a bit of pre-work, but it’ll save a lot of time and energy when you do end up making the change – plus chances are that you’ll make the right choice as well!

Transfer of old registrations & data 

This is often quick if you’ve chosen an intuitive platform. Export your data, import it to the new provider and then make small adjustments or clean the database as required.

Thinking about all these together can start to feel a little scary, but taking RaceID as an example, you can get up and running within a day: You can find the article How Easy is it to Switch to RaceID? to learn more about the exact process.

How Much Does it Cost to Change Registration Systems?

Again – this varies from platform to platform. Mostly it will just be a time commitment on your side – any support time you require to switch is usually built into the pricing plan that you select.

Remember to read the T&C’s of your current provider before you switch! There may be a contractually binding period you have signed up to – or a leaving fee.

Additionally, we recommend trying to find out ahead of time about any hidden charges. This can take a little time, a phone call, or a meeting if a website or provider does not display transparent pricing information or feature prices in their Terms and Conditions. If this is the case, ask yourself the question; “Why is this company hiding this information from its customers or competitors?”

When is The Best Time to Change Registration Systems?

The best time to change registration systems is often the end of a season. This way, you can end a registration process fully with your old provider, and start a new season fresh from your new system. You will save time on not having to export/import registrations and will avoid any downtime associated with the switch. 

Of course it is usually possible to switch in the middle of the season as well, and there are many reasons why you might want to do this, but it might make your life easier if you can wait until just after your race.

You can start planning early and evaluate providers before your season is over, to be ready to open registrations with your new provider as soon as you switch from your old one.

Summary: How Complex is it to Switch Race Registration Systems?

There are many reasons why you might want to switch – from improving user or participant experience to price. Either way, it should be a short, uncomplicated and painless process if done right, at the right time for you. You just need to overcome your doubts, decide yourself, and take the step. 

To learn more about the switching process at RaceID – read this 5 minute article.