Beyond Gamification: Creating Rewarding Race Experiences

April 11, 2018

Love a great game? You’re not alone–and we’re not just talkin’ courts and balls.

To gamify is to transform an action into a game by adding points, badges and other engaging elements. From soda companies to airlines, brands of all kinds are using gamification as a way to boost participation and build loyalty. This smart strategy can drive consumer purchases and increase interaction while providing marketing teams with valuable data to measure engagement.

It also makes just about anything a lot more fun.

Gamification is becoming increasingly common in the endurance industry via point tracking systems, multi-race incentives and other programs managed throughout the race and beyond. Here, we’ll provide a four-step plan to incorporate gamification into your event, plus how to play to win using technology built specifically for the endurance arena.

Step 1: Get in the Game

Some of the best race event gamification programs involve simple plans tailored to individual brands. For example, the Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon Series rewards participants who have completed a qualifying number of races with entry into the Heavy Medals Hall of Fame. These runners receive special finishing medals and their photos are featured on race banners and a dedicated web page.

Multi-race passes, such as Tough Mudder’s Regional Pass, are another option. These packages allow participants to pay a one-time sum to enter a set number or unlimited number of races throughout the year. Although it may not at first appear to be gamification, a multi-race pass rewards those who sign up for more than one event and can encourage more participation.

Giveaways are also a great way to reward frequent participants. ACTIVE Network offers ACTIVE Rewards, a free membership program that provides event directors with samples from partnering brands to use as incentives for participants. Samples, discounts and branded gear can serve as excellent perks for those participating in your gamified system.

As you evaluate options, consider how your event’s program will stand out from the rest. Differentiating doesn’t have to be difficult, and in fact, you can probably leverage your existing brand to design a program that will speak to your participants in a very specific way. Ask yourself a few questions: What are the key elements of my event or series? What makes it different? What makes it memorable? The answers will guide you in creating a unique and memorable program.

Step 2: Advance to the Next Level

Getting in the game is the first step, and to excite and engage your participants even further, you’ll need to move beyond basic gamification. ACTIVE Network offers several solutions to help you achieve this goal:

  • ACTIVE On-Site: Waiting in line takes the fun out of any game. ACTIVE On-Site enables quick and easy registrations, check-ins and bib assignments on race day to get your runners out of line and into the experience.
  • ACTIVE Experience App: Amp up gamification with the app that enables participants and spectators to track and share results, see real-time leaderboards, view course landmarks and even receive push notifications for their favorite runners.
  • iTaBs: This cool tool allows event directors to create custom and personalized medals for race participants.

Step 3: Know the Risks

No matter which method you choose, the number one risk involved in gamifying your endurance event is being unprepared. You can do more harm to your brand than good by implementing an underdeveloped system or one that doesn’t work the way you’ve planned. This can cause dissatisfied participants and administrative headaches.

Another potential risk is losing time and money on a new system that lacks the marketing push necessary for ample participation. While it’s true that any new program can take a while to catch on, you must set your gamification plan up for success by actively communicating the benefits and promoting them through your website and social media platforms.

Step 4: Play to Win

In conclusion, gamification is an excellent way to engage and build loyalty among endurance event participants. Ready to get in the game? A well-designed, brand-specific program featuring next-level technology is your winning combination.