What the Participants Told Us

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One key to success in any business is the ability to listen to your customers.

Listening to participants was one of the central themes in an interesting article by Diccon Loy titled ‘Participation Innovation’ that I shared last week.

A great example of listening to participants and turning an industry model on its head recently took place in the race photography sector.

For a long time, participants have complained that official photos are too expensive and take too long to be available. To be fair, the industry has evolved tremendously. I remember moonlighting for one of the early players in Australia, who weeks after an event, used to mail out thousands of prints to participants on a sale or return basis. The process was hugely labour intensive and costly – hence the end price to the consumer was not cheap.

With the advent of digital technology and especially digital recognition combined with some fantastic innovation, key suppliers such as Marathon Photos from New Zealand make photos as well as short videos available within a few hours of the race but still at a relatively expensive price point. I have sometimes wondered, albeit with no clear understanding of the business model and the significant costs of software development, if the sector may have perhaps missed a trick in the digital era by not reducing pricing in exchange for volume.

Combining the consumer feedback with the desire for sponsors to engage in meaningful ways with participants and the massive power of social sharing, Pic2Go, an Israeli company that appears to be rapidly spreading across the globe have significantly disrupted the industry by creating an automated race photo sharing technology and a model whereby participants get the photos for free.

I recently spoke to CEO, Eitan Hefetz“Instead of the traditional race photo model, I believe race organizers should offer their participants the level of service they expect to get these days – sharing their race photos, fast and free”. 

“By adding sponsor branding (to the photos) and allowing almost-instant uploads to social media, events can generate hundreds of thousands of organic impressions within 24 hours after the race, and a massive social engagement around the photos. This also provides full visibility on the generated impact and easy ROI measuring which sponsors can look forward to.” 

The traditional business model generally benefits both the supplier and the event with the rights holder being paid either an up-front fee or royalty on each photo sold or sometimes a combination of both. With the Pic2Go model, the opportunity can be sold to sponsors as part of their core investment or potentially allocated to their activation budget. The costs can even be absorbed by the race organiser. Other suppliers have now also developed a similar sponsor integration model.

The Pic2Go example is one of many where mass participation sports have evolved tremendously in today’s digital age. Participants are more aware than ever thanks to the internet, social media and informative wearables, events are embracing technology such as live mapping and major global brands in the technology space such as TCS and HERE Maps are partnering with events.

Innovation continues to happen on a daily basis and I am personally very excited for what the next ten years and beyond could bring – whether it is a new event concept, an app or technology that would turn the industry on its head or something as simple as a design tweak that could save events hundreds of thousands of dollars or man hours.

The Pic2Go technology will be on display as part of the upcoming Mass Participation Asia (MPA) conference and Eitan will also be presenting on the opportunities of combining the participants’ desire to share their race experience with technology for a more effective and engaging sponsorship.

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