How Much Do Registration Services Cost For Race Organizers?

When you organize a race, an integral part to make it work is to offer participants an easy and convenient way to sign up to your race. Participants expect to complete their purchase online and get an instant confirmation of their spot in the race. 

To help you with this, there are numerous registration services on the market, offering online software systems for you to handle the entire registration process, storage of participant data and management of start lists, participant support and more. 

These services have a cost, and in this article, we break that cost down for you and prepare you for what you should expect while shopping for a registration service or race management system. 

Standard Cost Structure for Race Management Systems

The industry standard for most registration services is to charge you per transaction, or per participant. There is usually:

  • A transaction fee per transaction
  • A percentage charge of the transaction amount
  • Sometimes, a one-time or yearly flat fee

Transaction Fee Per Registration

This charge is usually added to the price structure to cover transaction costs for the provider of the service. All registration services use a payment provider that is integrated as part of the system in order to offer you safe payments. There are only a few worldwide providers of online payments (such as Stripe, Adyen or the major bank systems, local to each country), and all of these providers charge a fee per transaction as well as a percentage fee of the entire transaction amount each time a purchase runs through the system. Hence, your registration service must pay this fee to the payment provider, and must at least cover this cost as part of the fee they charge you. For most payment providers, these fees are structured as a set one time fee per transaction as well as a % fee, this is why your registration service price also holds this structure. The transaction fee per registration usually ranges from 30 cents to 1 EUR / USD. 

Percentage Charge Of The Transaction Amount

As explained above, the cost structure follows the base rate of the payment provider cost, and the second part of that is a % charge on the entire transaction. Hence, the more expensive your registration fee is for your race, the more you pay. 

Your registration provider probably pays around 1-4% of each transaction every time someone makes a purchase through their platform. Their ability to negotiate costs and the selection of the payment provider is therefore important to the number you see on the final line of your invoice. After deducting costs, your event management system provider must then factor in all their other costs and profits they need to make, and set a final price. Usually, most registration service % fees lay around 3% at the very lowest to up to 10% at the highest, depending on the country, the payment methods available and the pricing model of the company in question.

One-time or Yearly Flat Fee

For some companies, you will see a flat fee added to the quote. This cost is usually added to cover for any initial onboarding and/or continued support to help you learn the system. We have not seen any companies charging a higher flat fee than 100-500 EUR. 

Total Price for Registration Services

If we now put together the three parts, you are looking at a cost per participant around 1 to 10 EUR, depending on your registration fee of course.

Take the fee for RaceID for example, and apply it to a race with a fee of 30 EUR, you are looking at:

(0.5 EUR x 1) + (5% x 30) = 2 EUR per participant 

Offset your Registration Platform Fee to Participants 

Some providers allow you to offset your entire processing fee, or cost of the race management system to participants. This will show up as a “Processing Fee” or ”Transaction Fee” that is added to the total when they sign up to the race. This way, the entire race management system and the payment processing is free for you as an organizer, but it’s instead your participants that will see the charge and pay. 

Offsetting the price like this is common in some countries, especially in North America and the United States. The reason could be that consumers are used to paying processing fees and also seeing a tax charge appearing on the total of the purchase price every time they buy something. However in most European countries, this is not common. Consumers are used to seeing the price they are going to pay from the beginning, and can get suspicious if they are suddenly charged an extra fee at the end. 

Alternatives to Paying for a Race Registration Service

If you have a very small race, you might be able to cover your registrations via Google Forms or email, and collect payments in cash on the side. However, this method can easily get out of hand since you don’t know who has paid and you will struggle to put together start lists, collect participant data and might miss people and make mistakes. It is usually worth it to sign up for a race management tool, since the risk is so low (you only pay for the actual amount of participants you get, as most of the time, there is no upfront payment). The upside with a manual method is that it is totally free and you will not pay a cent for registration services (other than the value of a good chunk of your own time). 

The other alternative is to build your own registration service on your website, for example by using an e-commerce tool such as Shopify or hiring a development team. No matter what method you use to set up the structure, you will anyhow have to pay a fee to your choice of payment provider of around 2-4% of each transaction, so keep that in mind. If you use an e-commerce service, your registration will look like a standard shopping cart, as if you would shop for clothes etc online, and there will be no tailored features for you to sort participants in classes, set bib numbers, generate start lists or connect to timekeeping software. If you want these features without a race management system, you need to opt for option 2, and hire a developer that can build a custom system for you. 

Custom systems can be a great option for larger races that have the budget to hire a team to build the exact solution that you want. It will be costly, but you will get it how you want it and totally tailored to your brand. Keep in mind, to plan a budget for the coming years to keep your system updated. 

Want Help To Budget For Your Race And Calculate Your Registration Fee? 

Try our free Race Cost Calculator to get some help on the way, and play around with the registration fees you offer and effects of pricing differences of the registration service. Remember, that you should consider anything that saves you time so you can spend it on your participants, or perfecting your race course (which is the most important aspect of the race, according to participants).