We are now entering our 9th week of COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns. This has been a difficult time for all of us, but the event industry has been hit particularly hard; from the non-profits who depend on funds to the vendors and personnel who make it happen. The event industry was one of the first to be shut down and will most likely be the last to return. All of us have had to make some really difficult decisions during this time but we know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and we will all get through this.
At Athlete Guild, we have done our best to guide our events through this difficult time. When we first realized the extent of the issue before orders were even placed, we immediately began communications to prevent your customers from demanding cancellations and potential chargebacks. As such, we are happy to say that we have had zero chargebacks to any of our clients. We have also been able to reduce the number of refunds to events so that our clients didn’t lose money. It has been a challenge to work through it all between our processor, clients, and participants, but we believe that the worst is behind us.
So what now? It is anyone’s guess as to the future of our industry. While many would like to get back to events now, we know that it is not realistic. Between the government mandates and restrictions and a general fear among participants, it will be some time before we get back to any normalcy. That will make it difficult and risky to plan for future events. During this pandemic, Athlete Guild has been doing what it could to offer options to our clients. While everyone else was calling for cancellations or postponements, we were offering a better more immediate solution with virtual events. We believe for the foreseeable future, that it will give your more flexibility until things return to normal. We discovered during this time, that many actually made more money with the virtual event than they ever made with a regular run.
We don’t think that virtual events are a long term solution, but for now they are perfect for our environment. So what is a virtual event? It basically means that you have an event but participants work out independently and then submit their time to you. In return, you provide them with the race swag. You may have seen sleepwalker categories in the past. A sleepwalker or sleep-in category is one in that the participant gets the swag but has no intention of showing up or participating. They just want the swag. For a virtual run, participants actually run, cycle, row, climb, etc., and post their time in a virtual roster for all to see. While we don’t recommend placement awards as you have no real way to verify, we do recommend that you provide a participant or finisher medal. With a virtual event, you simply take your participant list and then mail the swag to the participant. The cost is minimal and a substitute for what you would have spent on the venue, security, timing, etc. The beauty is that you can wait on ordering your swag until the event is complete. In order to make a virtual race successful, it does require a different approach but you can learn from our experience.
Athlete Guild has the tools and expertise to make all of this easy for you from the registration to the participant posting their times. We can even pull the participant lists and produce shipping manifests for your swag. If you are interested in converting your event to virtual or in adding the option to your existing event, talk to us and we can guide you through the process.