RunSignUp Releases Comprehensive Participant Management

Comprehensive Participant Management including Refunds, Bib Exchange and Event Transfers Helps Runners and Race Directors

Moorestown, NJ – August 10, 2012 – RunSignUp, the leading innovator of online tools for Races and Running Clubs, today announced the availability of a comprehensive set of tools for participant management including:

Refunds – allowing Race Directors the ability to easily issue refunds themselves, or set dates and refunds fees for runners to do their own self-refund.

Event Transfers – Race Directors can transfer runners from one event to another.  For example from the Marathon to the 10K.  Race Directors can also set dates and transfer fees so that runners can self-transfer.

Bib Exchange – Race Directors can enable runners to either gift or transfer a bib to another runner.  Race Directors can set date limits on this, as well as set transfer fees.

Wait List Integration – Wait List entries are automatically invited to take refunded participants slots, or to receive bib exchange transfers.  The Race Director has full control of enabling this capability with settings for dates and extra fees that may apply.

A recent issue of Road Race Management newsletter (http://www.rrm.com/) had a headline article about race policies regarding bib transfers and refunds.  Most races do not enable these features due to the headaches of managing all of the changes.  This results in problems like “bandit” runners (those who did not sign up), unknown number of participants actually being at the race, lost revenue to races who are seeing bibs sold on Ebay and StubHub, bad results (a 25 year old uses a 55 year old runner’s bib), and dis-satisfied runners.  Read more here – https://runsignup.wordpress.com/2012/08/10/refunds-bib-exchanges-a-runners-right.

“The beauty of our participant management capability is that a Race Director can set it up and then it is on auto-pilot,” said Bob Bickel, founder of RunSignUp.  “We made sure the system is easy enough that runners can basically take care of themselves by working with a number of races and timing services on these features during our beta period.”

“For large races that sell out like our Cooper Norcross Run the Bridge (http://www.runthebridge.org/), we think having a Wait List and letting runners exchange bibs is a much friendlier experience for our runners,” said Kim Marino, Assistant Race Director.  “It allows us to plan better on how many entries will show up on race day, and our results are more accurate.”

All of these features are available today to any race using RunSignUp.

This is a quick video on how Race Directors can set this up – (https://runsignup.com/How-To/Customize-Refund-Transfer-Settings)

This video shows how Race Directors can remove or transfer participants privately – (https://runsignup.com/How-To/Remove-Transfer-Participants)

About RunSignUp

RunSignUp is the leading innovator of online tools for Races and Running Clubs.  Services include RunSignUp for race registration, RunSignUp Clubs to enable membership management, and RunSignUp Sites for creating free websites for any running related organization.  Over 1,000 race directors, timers, and running club officers use these services today.  Services are free except for processing fees when conducting monetary transactions like race registration or club membership renewals.  RunSignUp is founded by runners for runners, using technical capabilities to bring the power of cloud computing to benefit the running community.

Refunds & Bib Exchanges – A Runner’s Right?

Road Race Management had a cover story on bib exchange and refunds this past month – “Races Grapple with Number Switching”.

The comments from race directors seemed strange to me.  They complained how runners were finding ways to work around the system – selling bibs on EBay, Craigs List and other sites, running as bandits, and not registering properly (“illegally” was used several times in the article).  On the other hand, they were more than happy to take the runner’s money and lock them into running an event many months away.

Especially when races are sell-outs, there seems to me to be no downside to allowing refunds and bib exchanges.  Race Directors still get their fees, and can even charge incremental service fees for transfers and refunds.  Runners can sign up for an event and if they get injured they have an out.  This all breeds more goodwill for races and keeps runners coming back and signing up!  And the blogosphere is full of people who agree.

Of course the technology to allow this has been abismal in the past – requiring a lot of overhead on the part of race directors and timers to manage this manually.

RunSignUp has been incrementally adding all the features we have seen missing in this area for the past several months – Wait Lists, Refunds, Event Transfers and Bib Exchange.  We have worked with several races in beta mode to refine the system.  We announced this week that our entire Participant Management capability is now fully functional and ready for use.  Here are some of the video How To’s:

Wait List Setup:

Refunds and Transfers by a Race Director

Refunds and Bib Exchange by a Runner

We are sure we will learn more and make improvements as more races deploy these capabilities.  So let us hear how you would like to see this work for your races!

Bib Exchange

Bib Exchange is a hot topic.  Road Race Management lead article in their last newsletter was all about race directors dealing with “illegal” bib exchange.

Online Registration systems typically do not handle this very well.  And that is where our latest release of RunSignUp provides some great solutions for Race Directors.  Hopefully this reduces result errors, bandits and third party markets creeping up for bib exchange.

The fundamental mechanism we use is making a private invitation to a new runner to sign up for a race:

There are a number of variations of this:

  • Race Directors can initiate these.
  • Runners can initiate these if Race Directors enable it for their race.
  • Gift Exchange means there is no charge for the receiving runner (unless the race sets an additional fee)
  • If a normal transfer, Runner 2 registers and pays the normal registration fees.  Once Runner 2 pays, then Runner 1 receives a refund less processing fees and fees the race may set up.

Race directors can set a number of options, including the number of days before the race that bib exchange closes, as well as a bib exchange fee.

See the video below for an explanation of how to set up Bib Exchange for your race:

Race Event Transfers

Have you ever had a runner wanting to move from the Half Marathon to the 5K in your race because they got injured?  When we were Beta testing this capability with the Dexter Ann Arbor Run, we had this happen about 20 times for a 5,000+ person race.  That is a lot of overhead for the race director.

RunSignUp now gives race directors the ability to easily do this or to allow runners to transfer themselves.  As with other Participant Management features in RunSignUp, you can set the number of days before the race this turns off, and you can set a price that the race will be given for transfers.

Runners simply log into RunSignUp and select “My Profile”.  From there they are able to see the races they are signed up for and select to transfer to a different event.

RunSignUp charges nothing extra for moving form a higher cost race to a less expensive race.  When moving from a less expensive to a more expensive race, we do charge our normal processing fee.  This would also be true for races that set a charge for doing a race transfer.  For example if you set a fee of $5.00 to move even to a less expensive race (to discourage this, or to make up for the administrative hassle of changing things like bibs), the charge would be $5.00 plus the normal RunSignUp processing fee of $2.00 for a total cost to the runner of $7.00.

Here is a video that show how to do event transfer (and bib transfers too!)

Let us know what you think!

Race Refunds

Most races do not allow refunds.  This of course frustrates runners who may get injured or have other priorities emerge.  There are three reasons to allow refunds:

  • You have a Waiting List of people who will take the spot.
  • You want to have a runner-friendly race that gives runners more flexibility and encourages them to sign up for your race.  Of course the hope is you attract more runners, or you make a few people happy.
  • Exceptions.

RunSignUp enables refunds in two ways:

  • Race Directors do the processing.  We give the race director an easy way to either remove a runner without a refund, or remove a runner with a refund (and you can take a fee out for this service).
  • Runners do the processing.  They can log into the account and see their races in their Profile page and submit a refund there.

RunSignUp automates the whole back end for Race Directors.  You can set up a deadline for refunds to be X days before the race, and you can set a fee.

RunSignUp does not refund the original processing fee, and we charge an additional processing fee according to our standard rates to do the refund.  For example a runner pays $25 for a race plus a $2.50 processing fee when they sign up.  The refund would be $22.50 because we take an additional $2.50 out for processing the fee.  Race Directors can set fees above this amount to help discourage runners from getting a refund as well as increase revenue to your race.

The reason for the fees is to offset our costs.  The credit card companies do not give us a credit for refunds, and actually charge us again. Since they charge more (and we do not save the customer’s credit card information for security reasons in RunSignUp), we actually send a check to the runner as the refund.  To enable refunds, we will hold a reserve amount that we pay from.  We default this to 10 registration fees.  That of course gets paid back to the race when the refund period ends.  If the refund reserve is exhausted, then runners are automatically not able to get a refund.

The two videos below show how a Race Director can do refunds and how a race director can enable runners to get their own refunds:
Enable Runners:

Race Director Processing:

Wait Lists

An increasing number of races are selling out.  This opens up all sorts of potential frustrations and opportunities for Race Directors.  We see the glass as half full – so the next several posts will introduce some ideas on dealing with this, including posts on Wait Lists, Refunds, Race event transfers and Bib Exchange.

Wait lists are very valuable.  Once a race fills up, allowing runners to put themselves on a Wait List enables the race director to do several things, like:

  • Potentially giving those runners preference next year.
  • Including those runners on next year’s race promotion emails.
  • Allowing registered runners to get a refund and people from the waiting list to take their spots (making everyone happy and reducing the impact of bandits and non-authorized bib exchange)

RunSignUp offers a number of capabilities with our Wait List:

  • See reports on the waiting list.
  • Auto-enable waiting list entries to be invited to replace runners who have asked for a Refund.
  • Select either First In-First Out, or Lottery basis for selecting people from the Waiting List.
  • Open X number of entries to the Waiting List.  For example you decide your race can handle another 500 entries, this will automatically send emails to the 500 chosen and invite them to complete their registrations.
  • Allow a runner to reserve X spots on the Waiting list.  For example if a runner only wants to sign up with their family of 4, you can allow that and the family of 4 only gets invited if there are 4 slots open.
  • Allow X days for a Wait List Entry to respond to the email and complete their registration.  For example after 2 days, the entry is no longer valid and an email goes to the next person on the Wait List.

As you can see, we have gotten some great feedback from the races that have worked with us on these features.  The video below explains Wait Lists in more detail:

Event Specific Questions

We added the ability to set Event Specific Questions for races.  This makes it easy for race directors to ask specific questions for certain events and not for others.  Perhaps you want to know the estimated time for the Marathon, but not for the 5K.

You can set questions to display on a per event basis as shown in the graphic.  Very simple!

Let us know your suggestions on how we can make RunSignUp work better for your race!