British Military Fitness, the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes, is using ACTIVE Works Endurance event technology not only to branch into and manage endurance events, but to dramatically increase their team registration and automate their event registration process.
The Major Series is an award-winning 5K and 10K outdoor obstacle race organised by British Military Fitness (BMF) in various locations throughout the United Kingdom. Before organising their first race, BMF are known for organising the British Military Fitness outdoor fitness programmes. They were motivated to organise their first race, ‘The Military 10K,’ as a special challenge for their members. The Military 10K was originally for BMF members, but their races proved extremely popular as members brought friends and more non-members signed up after hearing about the event through word of mouth. Their premier event, the Major Series, was voted the UK’s ‘Best Trail Race’ in 2014 and hosts seven events annually.
When deciding to create The Major Series, the event organisers needed a solution that would help manage registration, particularly team registration, and collect payment from participants. They also needed a platform that would provide them with the scalability and functionality to help them grow their network and take their event series to the next level.
BMF chose to use ACTIVE Network’s event management technology to help them grow their team registrations, manage their event details and build a strong network of participants. The participant self-edit functionality saves the event organisers time by allowing participants to manage and update their event details online. The system also helps the event organisers to maximize registrations through the use of triggered emails, social media sharing options and team management tools.
Interview with Tiffany Creasey, Event Manager, British Military Fitness
CAN YOU TELL ME ABOUT THE BACKGROUND TO THE MAJOR SERIES? HOW DID THIS EVENT SERIES START?
It’s all run by British Military Fitness, the UK’s leading outdoor fitness programme. Our main focus at British Military Fitness is doing outdoor fitness classes across the UK. We set up an events departmenit to give our members an extra added bonus to run a 10k to add value to their membership. That event was called the Military 10K and it was a really small event run on public land. We then thought, we can grow this event and leverage it more. That’s when we decided to reach out to other people outside of our BMF members. So in 2011, it became the Major Series.
"We rely on ACTIVE’s race software. It’s easy to use and terribly efficient."
THE SERIES HAS BEEN GROWING, YEAR ON YEAR. WHAT’S THE SECRET BEHIND ITS CONTINUED POPULARITY AND GROWTH?
I think it’s because people come back more than once. It’s not an event that people will just do and tick off their bucket list. It’s an event you can do time and time again. When it first started, it was literally just BMF members. Our first event had about 300 people. Our BMF members enjoyed it so much, they brought their friends along. Since then, we have massively grown through word of mouth. First, it was just BMF members, but they brought their friends and it grew from there. It depends on which venue, but now in some venues only 10% of participants are BMF members. We grew massively, due to word of mouth.
WHAT DO YOU DO TO ATTRACT MORE PARTICIPANTS?
At the start, we tried free stuff, approaching local businesses around the area, posters at BMF parks and the occasional flyer. It was mostly free stuff and using ACTIVE Network’s social media sharing tools. Now it’s grown and we’ve grown a big Facebook following. Facebook is a big marketing channel for us now. We post daily pictures and get fans to interact. They’re really engaged.
HOW DO YOU ENSURE PARTICIPANTS HAVE THE BEST EXPERIENCE POSSIBLE?
I think the thing that sets us apart is the fact that our course is marshalled by our BMF instructors. Most events have the marshals that are volunteers. All of our BMF instructors are all either ex- or serving in the military, so they're great for this type of event. They’re exceptionally encouraging and have a really good laugh. The biggest feedback we get after the race is that the instructor marshals, who are called the Major’s Troops, are really encouraging. They get stuck in. They make it challenging but fun. Before I started working here, I ran the series a couple of times and I saw that they are what really sets us apart. They create a great atmosphere out on the course with some fun military banter.
HOW HAS ACTIVE’S TECHNOLOGY HELPED YOU POWER THE ONLINE REGISTRATION PROCESS?
I think the biggest thing is that our number of teams has really increased. We have always had the rule that, if you have a team of ten, you get a 10% discount off the entry price. But I think the fact that it’s so easy to create a team now with the ACTIVE Works Endurance system, we have more teams rather than single registrations. Even though we encourage it as ten, we can end up with teams of forty. It’s quite easy for corporate companies to set up a corporate team. Personal trainers, competitive boot camps and everything like that, are setting up teams because it’s a good event for them to get their participants to train for. They get to create a team name, set up the description and have their password and they have a sense of community. So it’s almost like, if you only start with five people, you are tempted to recruit five more. We now have a lot more teams and I think that the ACTIVE Works Endurance system has really helped with that.
ARE THERE ANY SPECIFIC PIECES OF FUNCTIONALITY THAT HAVE BEEN OF GREAT USE TO YOU?
I think there are a few key things. The automatic triggered email, when people haven’t finished their registration, is fantastic because it’s goes out straight after, or 24 hours after, they had started to register, if their registration isn’t finished, they get a couple of emails to prompt them to finish their registration. They might not have realized that they haven’t finished or they might have forgotten about it. We don’t have to think about it or list it as a thing to do. We just have to click a button to make it automatic.
The other key thing is that participants can update their details online on their own on their My ACTIVE account. The fact that they can transfer their waves, and transfer their registration to another person and we don’t have to get involved at all, saves us a lot of time and puts a lot of ownership on the participant. It’s all in their hands. We can also make sure we charge them a fee for the transfer, so their online My ACTIVE account is a great tool.
I think the link with social media is also great. As soon as they finish their registration they are encouraged to share it on Facebook.
I think the prepay team system is my favourite feature. It’s really easy for the team captain to not have to go and chase everybody for their date of birth and t-shirt size and all these bits and pieces you are not going to necessarily know. Now it’s just a matter of making the payment and getting the place confirmed for their team and at a later date the participant can go and fill in their details and we already have the income. If they don’t fill in their details, it’s up to them. We have the income and we have their spot reserved and ready to go.
WHAT BENEFIT DO YOU SEE BY PARTNERING WITH ACTIVE NETWORK?
I think it’s that we get such good support. Our Account Manager is always regularly checking up to see how we’re going and if there is anything he can help with, marketing wise or looking for feedback. Any feedback I’ve had is really taken on board. The support has been fantastic and this goes for the Account Manager and the support team. I never really have any trouble getting them on the phone. They are always up to speed and it’s really good to have that point of call so we can find out what’s going on and the support’s been fantastic.
I also think the fact that it’s purposefully built for sporting events. I like the option to purchase merchandise while you’re registering or to donate to a partnership charity. All those functions are really built around sporting events so it’s relevant to us.
We also benefited from the Race Director Industry Forum where it was good to meet other people, whether they’re a charity and want to get more involved with obstacle races or another competitor. It was really good to have everyone bouncing ideas off each other and that’s been really useful to us.
OVERALL, HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR EXPERIENCE USING ACTIVE NETWORK?
It’s been pretty fantastic. It definitely has to get a high rating. For mass participation sporting events, I can’t see why we would want to go with a different supplier, because it’s purposefully built for that. The support is there and the marketing help is there. We needed help with marketing recently and we got lists and lists of ideas which have been a great help. Also the different functionalities like the triggered emails and the reporting systems, which make the day-to-day easier, are very, very good.
Overall it really benefits us.
"British Military Fitness has been using ACTIVE Works for the past year. The team functionality has been extremely beneficial in increasing the size of each team created, giving them an identity to rally around and this has substantially contributed to an increase in revenue of 150% over our last three months." Former Head of Events British Military Fitness - Major Series