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Why SMS and Mass Participation Sports Events are Made for Each Other

sms messaging for sports events

Most major sports teams in the UK and US already know the power of SMS for engaging fans via scores, stats and other data. But the power of SMS can extend far beyond the world of the major leagues. The phenomenally popular Parkrun events use SMS services to text event data, finishing times and even discount codes to participants.

SMS services are made for mass participation sports events where you need to coordinate the sending of information to large groups of people at specific times. SMS is ideal, not only for communicating with participants but to coordinate teams of volunteers across the event. We’re going to use the example of a cycling sportive to demonstrate how you can leverage the power of SMS to ensure your event, from promotion and registration to rider safety, event wrap-up and beyond, can be enhanced by using a text message provider.

Making Entry Easy

We’ve blogged before about the value SMS messaging can add for a local sports club. If you’re running a mass participation cycling event like a sportive, SMS is an ideal way to streamline the registration process. If you run a cycling club, ask members who are interested in competing to opt into SMS, then register their participation via a shortcode before sending a link to the registration page. You can promote your event’s shortcode through your Facebook and Twitter channels, and include a promo code for a discount on cycling gear or event entry when riders sign up through an SMS service.

Before race day, send an SMS notification which riders can show on their phones to collect their race numbers and any other race information and kit. This kind of automation will help to speed up the processing of hundreds of riders.

Event Promotion

Obviously, you’ll want to promote your mass participation event beyond your club members, and SMS integrated with social media is a targeted way to engage the right audience and increase participation. Tweet and post using your shortcode to drive participants to register via SMS by offering a discount when they do so. SMS metrics make measuring the success of your campaign simple and by using one platform for registration you’ll cut down considerably on administration. SMS can even be scheduled for ease of automation.

On Course Safety

In a bike race, especially one run on open roads, safety is of crucial importance. Using SMS messaging gives you unlimited opportunities to keep participants as safe as possible.

  • Use SMS to send tips and advice, links to training plans, or a checklist of important kit they’ll need to bring with them on the day
  • A few days before the event, text a link to the 5-day weather forecast with an indication of expected weather conditions
  • Use SMS messages to remind riders of the registration procedure and the fact they’ll need to show their entry code on their smart device
  • During the race, use SMS messaging to update riders on any expected route hazards and remind them of pinch points, crashes or last-minute route changes.

Coordinating volunteers across the route of a race can also be made simpler by the use of SMS. Sending a global message to all your volunteers can be done in a few seconds and can keep them up to date with any last minute hazards, route changes or emergencies that occur. If a race car reports a bad crash en route, then an SMS alerts can send a quick response team to the site far more quickly than a series of phone calls or 2-way radio communication.

The Red Cross Tour de Rouge from Houston to New Orleans in the US has pioneered using SMS for race marshal coordination across their event. Marshals are informed at all times of riders’ locations and race conditions, allowing event organisers to successfully execute their race plan.

Post Race Wrap Up

Parkrun use SMS messaging to update competitors on their race time via text. They use a simple online form and confirmation code to opt-in to the service. This then allows runners to be sent their confirmed finish times. You could also include split times from around the course.

Unless the participants in your event opt out as soon as your sportive is finished, you’ve now built a database of members and non-members who you can text about future events, training and nutritional tips, club news and mass ride events. You could even create online cycling fantasy leagues as a means of promoting engagement and text SMS links to your fantasy games portal.

Growing Participation

SMS messaging is a good way to reach out to new riders who may be uncertain about participating in group events or rides at any level. Leverage SMS to provide useful, entertaining and value-added content that encourages riders to engage. SMS is a versatile tool and there are some excellent guides to use this simple and popular technology to develop rider engagement:

  • Use SMS polls to plan future routes and events
  • Use SMS to survey riders on what you’re doing well and how you could do better
  • Use SMS to promote special club nights – for example, bike maintenance workshops or gear sales
  • Use SMS to send codes and promos on cycling gear, bike components and event entry.

So Why Does SMS Make Sense for My Club's Mass Participation Sports Event?

  • Ease of registration
  • Rider safety
  • Ease of co-ordination for riders and marshals across a challenging course
  • Post race engagement e.g. rider’s times, polls and surveys.

FastSMS may be an SMS platform for business, but planning a mass participation event needs business acumen and real professionalism. Our award-winning service can help you grow your mass participation events, which makes sense for the health of your club’s finances for a small financial outlay. SMS messaging is easy to use and it’s a familiar technology that’s literally in everyone’s pockets. Contact us today to see how SMS can help you promote your sports club and grow your mass participation events.

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