Best practices for opening registration so you maximize participation in your competition
Throwing a competition is a big undertaking, and if you’ve never done it before, there are a lot of unknowns. Fortunately, Throwdowns.com has helped thousands of competitions on six continents succeed. We’ve seen it all and are happy to share some of the best practices we’ve learned through the years.
When You Should Open Your Competition’s Registration
There is a science to when you open registration. If you open registration too early, athletes may not sign up because it’s too far out and they don’t feel pressure to claim their spot. If you open registration too late, sign-ups can suffer because your athletes don’t have the time to plan. You want to open it close enough to the event that potential competitors feel a little pressure to go ahead and lock in their registration, but give them enough time to get ready to compete.
We have found that the ideal time to open registration for maximum sign-ups is ten to twelve weeks prior to your event. At that point, people are ready to commit and train to achieve their best at your comp.
Of course, there are other considerations! For example, if you expect many athletes will need to travel to your competition, you may want to open registration earlier than twelve weeks before so that competitors have time to sort out travel and other logistics. On the other hand, if your comp is a local event, maybe designed to pull competitors mostly from your own town or city, or even just within your box, you may be able to talk it up and then open registration closer to competition day.
If you are throwing a qualifier (and we really think you should!), you’ll want to open registration more than ten to twelve weeks prior to the final competition. We recommend opening registration for a qualifier five months before finals. This gives you time to throw your qualifier, review scores and invite qualifying athletes to register for finals.
How to Generate Interest Early in the Registration Process
Whenever you open registration, you want to generate as much early interest and discussion about your event as possible. As athletes begin to sign up, you want them to share that with friends and other potential competitors.
One good way to encourage early registrations for your competition is to use coupon codes for discounted “Early Bird specials” such as “sign-up now to receive a 10% discount”. Make sure you set a coupon expiration date to encourage athletes to not wait, but sign-up now. You can also generate excitement by offering free entry for certain high profile people, maybe box owners in your area, professional athletes, and celebrities, and then marketing those that accept as confirmed for your event. To offer these free registrations, you can simply create a coupon code to cover 100% of the registration price and then only share that code with the specific people you’d like.
Another way to build early registration momentum: Use our Invitations management features to easily invite athletes from prior competitions. If you have email addresses of previous competitors, it’s easy to build an invitation campaign. You can even send out an initial batch of invitations, and then if/when some invitees decline, the system can automatically invite additional people from a waitlist you created. Our system can take the tedium out of filling your invitation slots!
For more information on planning a competition, including a checklist of actions to take (and when to take them), download our “Host Amazing Competitions: The Guide for Organizing Successful Fitness Events.” It’s free and jam-packed with resources to help you succeed.