Winning the Race to Connect with Customers

Published by Fresh Business Thinking - 13 March 2014

By Dr Pieter Streicher, MD of BulkSMS.com

BulkSMS lightens the logistics of running sporting events

Like any major sporting event organiser, the team at the Castle Triathlon Series are no strangers to the complexities of dealing with large numbers of people converging at a location for a short period of time. Castle Triathlon’s logistics are amplified by the fact that they run triathlons at five historic locations across the UK, France and Ireland. The UK and Irish castles and the French chateau provide a draw not just for the athletes but also for their families and friends who come to cheer them on.

The average attendance at each triathlon is around 9,000; comprising competitors and supporters. Ensuring that every participant is registered, agrees to the terms and conditions, knows when and where to turn up, receives information about weather conditions on the day and is able to reserve camping and parking facilities is a daunting task for the small team charged with organising the events. The Castle Triathlon Series has found that the use of SMS messaging has enabled it to deal with the despatch of timely event details to all athletes efficiently and cost-effectively, making the logistics far simpler than they would be in the absence of the mobile communication solution provided by BulkSMS.

Managing triathlon communications

The deployment of SMS messaging filled a strategic gap in the organisation’s registration and communication processes that might otherwise have led to thousands of phone calls from participants seeking details about the event. It now works as an integrated part of the administrative side of event organisation. When participants register online, they are asked to provide their mobile phone details so that Castle Triathlon Series organisers can contact them in future via SMS.

An SMS is sent two weeks before the event — reminding participants of key location and timing information. This SMS provides anticipated weather condition and water temperature details so that participants arrive prepared with the right kit. It also informs them of their race numbers, enabling fast-track registration upon arrival. Those who have signed up for optional training days or recce visits to the venue are also given relevant details. A second SMS is sent after the event to thank everyone for taking part in the triathlon. It also directs participants to the website for further post-event news and announcements. “We’ve found that using SMS prior to the event makes the whole experience easier, seamless and more enjoyable for everybody”, says Patricia Reilly, Registration Manager of the Castle Triathlon Series. “The messages are well received by our athletes, who find the information helpful and relevant. They expect to receive a message and appreciate the non-intrusive nature of the communication, which just acts as a gentle reminder that they need to take certain actions and arrangements in preparing for our events.”

SMS has even saved the day regarding en route communication for one of the events when Satnav capabilities did not stretch as far as locating the precise, deeply rural, position of one of the historic castles. Castle Triathlon became quickly aware participants were having difficulties finding the venue and were able to despatch an SMS to participants giving them the exact details for the final leg of the route. “BulkSMS has served our logistics arrangements in a tactical as well as strategic way and we’re delighted to have it as an integral part of our communications mix”, says Reilly.

Enhancing sport event communications

To enhance their sport event communications, the organisers have also sent participants Mobi-gram messages. They have found that the ability to create unique SMS communications using Mobi-grams further enriches the message by providing more visually appealing content. The BulkSMS Mobi-gram solution provides the facility to create a webpage and send it as a unique URL in each SMS. Recipients click on this URL to view the event information, which may include maps and other images.

BulkSMS has proven with the Castle Triathlon Series that it offers an extremely cost-effective communication tool for event organisers. The logic is compelling. It is a very low cost medium, working from an easy and intuitive online or desktop interface. It enables an organisation to demonstrate total professionalism in how it handles sporting event communications.