RunSignup Survey Forecasts a Hybrid Approach to 2021, with In-Person and Virtual Events Expected

November 24, 2020

RunSignup | GiveSignup, the leading technology provider for US races, released the results of a survey of the endurance industry indicating that both virtual and in-person race elements are expected to important in 2021. The simple survey created a snapshot of revenue and event expectations for the industry in 2020 and 2021 and offered a comparison to attitudes from a similar survey in May 2020. While the survey reinforced the significant impact of COVID-19 on endurance events, it also demonstrated optimism as races prepare for a range of options in 2021.

The survey was completed by 398 race organizers, covering a range of organization and events sizes, with 33% of represented organizations serving 501-5,000 participants, 21% representing 5,001-20,000 participants, and 17% representing more than 20,000 participants annually. Ninety-five percent of respondents operate primarily in the US and were spread across 44 states.

The survey showed cautious optimism, with significant revenue reductions in 2020 gradually improving over the coming months. At the heart of that recovery are the increased event options as compared to March – including virtual races, virtual challenges, modified in-person races, and hybrid races that combine both in-person and virtual elements and options.

Key takeaways from the survey include:

  • A successful 2021 will rely on both in-person and virtual options. While expectations for modified in-person events grows over the course of 2020, with 57% expecting to host one in the first half of 2020 and 66% anticipating one in the second half, it’s just as clear that virtual isn’t going anywhere. During the same period, 62% and 46%, respectively, expect to host a virtual race or challenge. Another 46% percent of all respondents indicated that they expect to host a Hybrid event that is both in-person and virtual in the second half of 2021 – and that number is expected to grow as races realize the value of increasing their reach.
  • May expectations for 2020 revenue appear to be relatively accurate, with 45% of 2019 revenue predicted at that time, and 43% of revenue now expected by the end of the year.
  • Expectations for 2021 revenue are less optimistic now than they were in May, with revenue predictions for the second half of the year falling from 76% in May to 64% today. However, a gradual recovery is still expected, with revenue increasing steadily from now until late 2021.
  • Smaller organizations fared better, with organizations representing fewer than 1,000 participants in a year exceeding the revenue they expected in May.
  • Innovation has helped the industry. While organizations still indicated that they are using cost-saving measures like reducing operating and employment expenses, an increasing number are also making up for shortfalls by creating new revenue sources such as fresh race, challenge, or virtual event concepts. The share of organizations focused on expanding revenue sources rose from 41% in May to 49% in November.
  • Bankruptcy is not imminent. While the endurance industry has been hit hard and challenges continue, only 1% indicated that they expect bankruptcy, down slightly from 1.4% with the same expectation in May. This suggests that valuable industry experience will still be around when the demand for events rebounds.

RunSignup Founder and CEO Bob Bickel said, “While this survey confirms that a slow recovery is expected, it also demonstrates that the industry is far better prepared to handle the uncertainty in 2021. Through safety modifications and communication with health officials, we have seen an increase in successful in-person events in recent weeks. What is really encouraging, though, is how the breadth of options has grown. Compared to March, event organizers are much more prepared to create engaging virtual races and challenges and are building their events as Hybrid events – providing options for different types of participants and creating built-in contingency plans to avoid last-minute cancellations.”

The survey represents a snapshot in time and will be repeated in the future to gauge the speed and strength of industry recovery. For full survey results, visit: https://runsignup.blog/2020/11/20/race-survey-in-person-and-virtual-race-options-expected-through-2021/

About RunSignup | GiveSignup

GiveSignup | RunSignup is the leading all-in-one platform for fundraising and endurance events. More than 21,000 events, supporting over 8,000 nonprofits, use GiveSignup/RunSignup’s free and integrated solution to save time, grow their events, and raise more. Built on a powerful CRM, our expertly crafted, open, and all-in-one solution powers nonprofit revenue generation and supporter engagement from run/walk/rides to ticket events to donation websites, forms, and fundraising campaigns. For more information, visit www.givesignup.org or www.runsignup.com.