LA Call Minutes- 09.27.17
Wednesday, September 27, 2017
Jump to a topic: Upgrade Best Practices | Mobile App | Two-Season Membership | Membership | Events | Cyclocross Event Diversity
Kelly Clarke – Event Services – USAC – firstname.lastname@example.org – 719-434-4218
We are going to start with Randy Schafer, our Technical Director, who is going to talk about Upgrade Best Practices.
I wanted to bring some things to your attention and ask for assistance between the LAs, especially their upgrade coordinators. Currently the upgrade policies work well in largely populated areas. They don’t work so well in less populated areas where there is not the same opportunity to have the right sized field. One of the concerning things that has come up, and probably the most important thing we’ll talk about today is what I would consider to be upgrade fraud. We’ve had several instances where people have outright found a way to game the system. They go into their account, change their address, and request an upgrade, simply copying the results out of results and rankings. A new LA upgrade coordinator grants the upgrade and within a day they revert their address back. And these people have been quite vocal and open about it, publically. In the recent cases, the results did not warrant an upgrade, but the upgrade was granted anyways. So, if the LAs can speak with your upgrade coordinators to make sure they are following the upgrade policies that we have, and if they are running into any specific problems I would certainly like to know about them and help people navigate them so we don't have situations where we either have people getting upgraded very quickly in small regional markets, or where we have very large competitive markets where the upgrade points may have been achieved but the LAs are deciding that they don’t particularly like how a person races or that they need more experience or some other excuse. In any of those situations, those are deviations from the policy and I can certainly understand why there may be needs for those, but let’s discuss those needs to deviate from the rule book. If people would bring these issues to my attention I would appreciate it. Any comments from LAs? Any particular issues you might be having right now? If not, please go ahead and address those directly to me. My email is email@example.com. Please give me some background on the issue so I can help you resolve it. Thank you.
Dave Fowkes (ICA - Illinois)
There is one thing that I would like to address, Randy. This happened many years ago where one rider was actually caught. He was changing his address, and I think he won seven state titles in different states. He was finally caught, but I thought at that point - and this was probably a good five years ago - there was something that was built into the system that would flag an account if there was an address change. Is that still in place, or has that been IT drownded?
I have no direct experience with that, Dave, so I really can’t address that. I am not sure what logic we have in terms of allowing changed addresses. I think in general, we believe people are changing an address because they are moving. So, I can check to see if we have any checks and balances on that, but the real issue would be about people who suddenly show up out of nowhere asking for an upgrade that you know haven't been racing in your area. Or if you look and see that they just changed addresses, then you might question the request. But I’ll look into the functionality.
I think this person was brought to the limelight because he changed his address almost every week and went to different states to win state titles. But thank you for looking into that.
Thank you. Let’s move on to Kim Gerra, Director of IT, who is going to give an update on the new iOS mobile app.
Hello everyone. We recently launched a small version of our mobile app for iOS this week, in response to the iOS upgrade. So for the Android users, we have not released anything yet. We are working on a new Android app, parallel to the work we are doing with the iPhone app, but we needed to get the iPhone app out sooner because the old app will not work with the new iOS11. So we at least have a version for them to verify their digital license at races.
While we were working on a more robust version, it became obvious that we needed to release a version when the new iOS came out for the iPhone, because users who upgrade to that iOS would no longer be able to use the old iPhone app. We needed to get something out quickly. What we did was release a version that has just the license information on it. We’ve had 27,000 plus people download the app. We’ve had a handful of problems where people are having issues logging in, so we’re investigating that. And we have a few people that are reporting crashes after logging in. It is a small number of people, compared to the amount of downloads, so we think these are some edge cases. But we are quickly working to resolve these issues. We plan on having an update available in the next few days that should resolve these reported issues.
Then in the next three months we should be releasing more functionalities. The next thing to come out will be Rider Look-Up, as well as a few modifications to the license in the way it looks and is presented. Then we’ll be releasing Event Look Up and Partner Benefit resources, based on the type of license that you have. Following that, we’ll have additional features that are most widely used in the old app. Our goal is to not shut down the old app until all the same functionality is available in the new app.
That’s all that I have. Do any of you have any questions that you would like to ask?
Thank you Kim. Next I would like to bring on Michelle Moore, Director of Product Marketing, to have her clarify that email that I sent out about the two-season license. I misspoke in calling it an 18-month license, so I wanted her to clarify this offer that we’re calling the ‘two-season’ membership.
Hi everybody. I think this is pretty straightforward. In the past, this has been called a ‘sixteen month membership’, or a ‘two-year membership’. The reality is meant for this to be a two-season membership. We market this to cyclocross racers who are starting to race late in the season, so they get two full seasons of racing cross. So if they buy now, they get the rest of 2017 and all of 2018 to race. So that’s why we’re referring to it as a ‘two-season’ membership. We don’t want to confuse people by putting a specific number of months on it, because we plan on marketing this into October, so the number of months isn’t always the same based on when people choose to purchase it.
Just so you have transparency in our marketing plan, we launched this on September 14th. We emailed anyone in our database that had a lapsed membership of 1-3 years as well as anyone who has not yet purchased for the year in 2017. And we’ll send an email every Thursday through the beginning of October. We have a social media campaign going as well on facebook, instagram and twitter. We’re trying to put some fun, related articles out there about family fun, to cross or not to cross, and some training and nutritional articles that will hopefully push engagement. And we’re using the hashtags #crossishere and #2xcx, to get at that idea of two-seasons of cross. That’s pretty much it. There’s a cool t-shirt that we’re marketing that says ‘Cross Is Here’. You’ll probably see it on social media later today, or in the next few days. We’re going to do a boosted post to try and get people excited about cross.
Other than that, does anyone have questions, or have you gotten any questions from members in your area about this membership?
These licenses that are good from this season into next season, the cost is $15. Is that correct?
It’s $115. The other thing I should note, than Kelly did mention in the email sent out last week, is that we are also introducing this offer to juniors for the first time for $55.
And these are only offered online? Or can they buy them at an event?
It’s online only.
If you guys have any additional questions, you can certainly reach out to me.
Is there a way to do it at the event? Because we have the rider there with credit card in hand. We might be able to sell it to them in person, rather than having them leave the race and forget about it. It’s best to sell something when you can see it, versus later on. Is there a way to look into that?
If you have the ability to bring a laptop or tablet to the event, that’s probably going to be the best way to get people to buy it onsite.
There is a way that we can manually offer them the discount if they pay for the $70 license, then contact our membership department later. It creates more work for the rider, though. We don’t have a great system right now if you want to do it on-site, unless you bring a laptop or tablet like Michelle suggested.
Any other questions or comments?
OK, I am going to turn it over to Jeffrey Hansen, Director of Member Experience, to talk about current membership trends.
Jeffrey Hansen – Membership – USAC – firstname.lastname@example.org – 719-434-4215
Hello. Since the last time we spoke there hasn’t been a significant change in membership trends. We gained some ground compared to last year in the first couple weeks of September, then we’ve been doing about the same since then. So where that puts us is that domestic memberships are down 6.1%. When you factor in growth of International memberships and Pro Licenses, it’s 4.4% down year over year. Discipline specific, in terms of how it’s broken out, cyclocross had been on the decline and now we’re about even year over year. And road is still the major negative point for our domestic memberships. Regionally we have not seen a lot of change over the last few months. There are small movements each week between the regions, but , like SoCal is still continuing to be leading the charts in the decline and we attribute that in large part to road being more of a focus there than some of our other regions that are a little more evenly distributed across discipline. Not to pick on you, Sean. Just using this as an example of what we are seeing. The best regions that we’re seeing - and this is overall membership, it doesn’t necessarily factor into LA rebates because it factors in juniors, international and things like that - but the best we’re seeing is flat. If you look at the Mid-Atlantic and VACA as one region, we’re basically flat there on memberships. If you look at New York and New Jersey, they’re down 1.5%. NEBRA has done well also this year, but again ‘well’ is a relative term. Their decline is 1.7%. So if you’re finding anything less than 6% then that’s actually good news in comparison to the national average. I’d be happy to break that out more if anyone would like - just email me. Junior and Female percentages are up this year, perhaps in part from the good news that we had with BMX and having BMX Worlds here, but other than that, we’re not seeing a ton of change right now. Questions or comments?
Thank you, Jeffrey. Now I’d like to turn it over to Stefanie Larson, Director of Business Development, to talk about event trends.
Hi everyone. Again, like Jeffrey said, there is not too much change since we last talked. But just so you guys know this month’s numbers, as of yesterday we’re down a total of 111 events which is roughly 6%. Of that 111 - and this is nationwide, 60 are road events. We’re down 52 mountain bike events. We’re actually up a total of 10 cyclocross events but those are mostly camps and clinics. And we’re down 10 track events nationwide. Reasons include cancellations due to weather, events going away due to rising costs, low participation, some events are taking a break because they don’t have the bandwidth, some have had permit issues with municipalities. The reasons are across the board.
On the racer day front, we’re down a total of 2300, which is a little better compared to last month. That’s roughly 8%. Our biggest loss, of course, is road at 2100 racer days, The next loss is mountain bike at 900. And we’re up 1700 cyclocross racer days which is a combination of E events and camps and clinics.
Questions on those numbers?
OK, great. So we’re actually trying to get a better feel for cyclocross season and where it’s going this year. So now that it’s started, I want to ask you how you think it’s going in your region. Do you anticipate a decline in participation? Are you seeing a steady participation rate so far? Do you have any thoughts on how you think the year will end?
JD Bilodeau (NEBRA - New England)
We’re looking to be about even in terms of numbers. In cyclocross we’ve had three record setting attendances so far. This upcoming weekend is going to b a down event just because of the particular nature of that event. But we anticipate being even to up on events and even to up on racer days.
I do have a question on how all of this is getting calculated, since there is some significant discrepancies on what we calculate per racer days and what you calculate. Are there going to be any tools available for us to check our numbers versus your numbers?
I know we keep telling you the same thing over and over again, JD. We aren’t meaning to do that. We are trying to revamp our reporting to have more details. Currently, our racer days are recorded once the permit is closed. I know you know this, but just so everyone else knows, let’s say you have a series with maybe four events. We don’t count those racer days until the series is over and the permit is closed, so you may not see those numbers if the series is still going on. Same with event counts - those are acounted for when the event start day begins, not when the permit is opened. We actually do see some of those numbers fluctuate, because sometimes there are duplicate permits. So eventually everything will true up. But to answer your question, JD, we are looking to get better reporting for the LAs so you can click on the account and it will generate a list of the permits it’s counting. I don’t know when that will be available. Right now we’re in the middle of getting this new system up and running. If you have any specific questions, send them to Kelly or me and we can dig a little more for you. Maybe we can run a manual report.
Thanks. The specific question is the same one that I’ve had for the past couple of years. But I think it’s super important that this reporting gets taken care of, because at least in terms of our region, the difference in the numbers is the difference between us being in decline and us actually growing. It’s a big thing for everyone financially, it’s a big thing for us emotionally. No one like to hear that they’re down every single month. And the reality is that we’re not actually down. We have the numbers to prove it. And I can’t figure out why our numbers and your numbers don’t add up.
Again, we’ll work with you one on one with this, but for every LA, we’re working to have the same reports that we run internally available to you so hopefully that will give full transparency. But you’re right JD, and it’s embarrassing that we have this conversation over and over again and we haven’t delivered. But we’re trying to get there. We know it’s a big issue and it’s not acceptable, but we do have it in scope, I promise.
Shawn Farrell (BRAC - Colorado)
My question is for JD. What is your secret? Because we are getting hammered. Our best event of the year so far for cyclocross was a Wednesday night training series that was only down 4.7% in racer days. We’ve got some that are down over 20, and two of our biggest races - the Cycle X series, which always brings in the biggest numbers of the year, was down 12.7 and 10.7. So we’re seeing fairly sharp declines in what has traditionally been our best discipline for numbers.
I think one of the things that we’re extremely strong on is having a wide variety of events that appeal to a variety of different riders. We have a huge UCI cyclocross series that attracts top level riders from around the world who want a really big production value, and we also have grassroots events that have single speed races and relay races and have a fun, non-serious end of the season kind of vibe to it. So we have really embraced getting multiple events on the same day. Every weekend we’ve got 2-3 events to choose from. So you get to choose whatever flavor of race you want to experience. We’ve done a really good job at getting data from surveys to show our promoters what athletes want. And we’ve seen very, very clearly that the promoters who look at those surveys and listen to what consumers are asking for, and provide that, are seeing spectacular turnout. Those events are getting record turnouts. The events that are suffering greatly are the ones that insist on providing something that the customers don’t want. If your event is overpriced and not what everyone wants to do on their weekend, they’re going to go find something else to do. We’ve had some really honest conversations with our promoters about setting realistic expectations and making sure that everyone knows where they fit in, in terms of the scene. And they can fine tune their event to match up with the customer base that they want to go after and find people that are looking for those races. So we continue to have pretty good success by expanding the variety of races out there.
Since you’re having multiple events on a given day, are you finding that each event is also growing, or is it just the total racer days for the region is growing because it’s spread out on different events?
We’ve got a fairly geographically diverse region, so when we have events on multiple days we try to keep something up in maine and something in Connecticut. We’re finding that the individual events themselves are growing, especially in the off weekends when there aren’t UCI events. Because those local races can focus on whatever their local flavor is, or whatever their local customer base wants. Connecticut has a huge youth cycling program going on right now. The CCAP is turning out hundreds of kids every year, so we’re having the biggest juniors fields that we’ve ever had at these Connecticut races. Other places in the New Hampshire and Boston area are catering towards the single speed crowd, and that more fun, party atmosphere. And they’re pulling record field sizes. So having different places for everyone to go makes a difference. People are willing to drive if the event is going to be what they’re looking for and it’s going to be a fun, well-run event. So, providing some promoter resources in terms of getting people to understand what their market is and how they can improve their attendance and make their event a draw for a particular demographic has been huge for us. When we have three races on a weekend, sometimes one will suffer a little bit, but we have more promoters than we have weekends, so we’re parsing that out as equally as we can but occasionally someone will be up or down ten, but with only a couple exceptions we haven’t had any major declines across races.
We kind of have the opposite problem. We have one big race director and no one will even want to be on the same weekend as them much less the same day. So we don’t have multiple races on the same day except for a small series that’s on the other side of the state and doesn’t attract the same clientele.
What I would tell your other race directors is that if there’s that one big thousand pound gorilla on the scene - they can’t be everything to everyone. So figure out what scraps they’re not catering to, or what people don’t want to go to those events and create events around that. So if they’re a hard-core, serious race, find someone that wants to put on a party race. Or find someone that wants to put on a fun single speed race or a relay or a donut race. It doesn’t have to be the same thing every weekend. Find the people that aren’t going to those events for whatever reason and get events made for them. Find things that are geographically different, so someone doesn’t have to travel to the same region all the time. And it starts with one or two events at a time. We have four series going on right now. We have the Connecticut series, our Vittoria UCI series, the single speed series, our state championship. People will think that it’s too much, but it allows everyone to find their own niche and you get to focus on whatever your focus is. So i would push those boundaries out in terms of what a cross race is and try to find the market that’s not being catered to and go after that.
Thanks Shawn and JD. Does anyone else have anything they’d like to share about their current cyclocross series? If it’s successful, or if things are different from previous years?
Any other questions or comments?
Ok, thank you for joining us. Have a great week.
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