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The Castle Triathlon Series (CTS), currently boasts the UK’s largest triathlon series with events taking place at a selection of iconic castles across the UK, Ireland and France. Founded in 2009, CTS has grown to include 6 weekend triathlons, each of which sees thousands of athletes from around the world taking to the start line.
The Series caters to thousands of participants ranging from seasoned to novice triathletes, children and their families. The event organisers, including full-time staff, volunteers and contractors, are tasked with ensuring that each competitor remains up to date and informed from the moment they sign up to enter, to the time they finish their race. In addition to this, the team is also required to roll-out successful marketing campaigns to attract any prospective athletes. To do this, the Castle Tri team, uses a variety of marketing and communication channels, one of which is SMS text messaging.
CTS used SMS communications for the inaugural Hever Castle Triathlon which took place in Kent, England, in 2009. SMS was the only channel that would allow for immediate and direct communication with competitors as the Wi-Fi in the area is so limited. Using the BulkSMS desktop software, the BulkSMS Text Messenger, SMS text messages were delivered to competitors’ mobile phones and provided time critical event logistics and post-event communications.
After successfully using SMS to connect with the race participants during this event, the CTS team decided to use it as a key communication channel, thereby incorporating it firmly into their competitor communication strategy for all their events moving forward. This means sending short and important information out via SMS to communicate to over fifteen thousand athletes during the series each year. Each text message sent contains valuable information pertinent to the race and competitor. These messages include information such as expected water temperatures, whether or not a wet-suit is required along with a link to further race information. Other text messages sent before each race, are personalised and include the unique race number per competitor as well as their wave and start time.
According to Yvonne Turner, Communications Director, the competitors rely hugely on the SMS messages for their race details. She says that, “Not only do the text messages contain vital race information but they also ensure that the registration process is quick and hassle free. Once a competitor receives their registration SMS, they simply show it to the relevant marshal who then gives them their race pack. SMS is also great when we have logistical issues, for example, one year the GPS was unable to get competitors to the car parking area efficiently, so we sent a text with directions to competitors ensuring that none were lost or stuck in traffic along the way.”
Turner continues: “Taking part in a triathlon is a big personal achievement and one worth celebrating. We are told the text message post-race which includes a competitor’s race results listed and a congratulations is kept for a long time as they enjoy the post-race exhilaration. The results are widely available online and shared within email but we like the personal touch and immediacy this delivers to our community.”
In 2017 the Castle Triathlon Series will be enhancing the competitor offering further by delivering online Competitor Guides detailing all the information needed on race day by a creative Mobi-gram. This means the information is easily accessible and a hopefully a helpful tool. Turner reckons that, “The use of the Mobi-gram feature is a great way to deploy targeted materials to an already interested audience.”
“BulkSMS.com and the Castle Trialthon Series have been in partnership since their very first race and we have thoroughly enjoyed working with them through every event. Their use of SMS is unique and it demonstrates how reliable SMS can be in an environment where effective communication is crucial. We are excited to see what the next few years have in store for both CTS and their use of our service,” says Dr Pieter Streicher, managing director of BulkSMS.com.