From left to right: Sam Renouf, GM of Sports, ACTIVE Network; Richard Adler, President Triathlon Business International; Rob Urbach, CEO, USA Triathlon
Photo: Paul Phillips / Competitive Image / @compimagephoto
When Triathlon Business International and USA Triathlon came together to deliver a unified 2017 conference experience in ACTIVE’s home town of Dallas, ACTIVE welcomed conference goers to its headquarters to kick off both TBI’s annual business conference and USAT’s Race Director Symposium. Triathletes, race directors and industry leaders pedaled out fresh margaritas on the “blender bike” and downed fajitas slathered with guacamole. While this group had a good measure of fun at this year’s conferences, it also tackled some of the biggest issues facing triathlon today and into the future.
Having supported triathlon since 2000, when ACTIVE USA announced its partnership with USAT to bring online registration to triathlon community, ACTIVE has contributed to the sport’s growth as have technological advancements and also increased media and social media exposure of triathlon. Consider that in 2000, Triathlete reported that almost 90% of triathletes had computer access, with about 60% using the Internet daily. This year, ACTIVE joined industry leaders in recognizing two primary cultural shifts that call for an evolution in the types of triathlon experiences today’s potential new triathletes want and expect.
First, continued growth of triathlon will require a concerted industry effort to make the sport more accessible to a broader cross-section of the global population. The opportunity for organizers and industry leaders is to leverage technology to increase the visibility of triathlon with various cultures and races of people. Opportunity also exists to inspire and encourage more women to “tri”, as women now account for 38% of triathlon event registrations, according to data and analysis of more than 125,000 events managed through ACTIVE’s software between 2013-2015.
Secondly, as more and more of the younger segments of the population view one-time triathlon participation as a win in and of itself, an organizer’s ability to deliver varied and unique event experiences is needed to attract Millennial athletes who are loyal to a breadth of experiences rather than to depth within one experience category. New technologies are making it possible for organizers to create fully engaging experiences that can be extended to virtual networks of fans, spectators, friends and family. With loyalty levers evolving, organizers can leverage technology to connect with audiences at the right time, in the right way and using the right channels depending on where a specific participant’s mind is not only during the event, but also before and after that event.
Like many other industries in any business, triathlon is just beginning to realize new ways of using technology to not only attract new types of participants but to evolve the sport itself. Technology can help triathlon better compete with the myriad of activity-based experiences available to athletes in today’s world.