If you are someone looking to produce an annual event that will result in attendee retention, we have a genius idea for you! We believe hosting a 5k run/walk on a holiday one hour before a parade is a slam dunk for you and your community! We’ve done it and it was a great success on many levels. In this post I’ll explain why it can be successful for you too.
But first, some backstory…
Four years ago, our local city was looking for someone to take over their 4th of July parade that had been going on for decades. Our very own Shadi Hayek stepped up to the job. Upon doing so, we thought an awesome addition to this parade would be adding on a 5k that would run down the parade course. We were right! Here is why.
Road Closures & Logistics
The beauty of this event format is usually about one mile of your course will already be mapped out and road closures already provided by the parade team. In our case, we were able to work with that team/company to expand the road closures through the additional areas of the 5k course.
Parades are also often hosted near areas that provide sufficient parking and many traffic flow plans are already in place. A double win for your event planning team.
This is likely one of the more fun and unique aspects of this event. Typically parade goers arrive about one hour early to assure they secure good seats. Often they are stuck sitting there bored until the start of the parade, which means there is already a captive cheering crowd built-in for your participants, which makes for an uber fun experience for both parties.
Emails were sent out to parade attendees to encourage them to bring cowbells, and other noise makers to help cheer on the runners/walkers. So for the last mile of the 5k, our participants felt like celebrities, which is how you want to feel when you end a 5k.
A huge win that made this a no brainer for us was the fact that the city was 100% onboard with the idea. I believe this was because the local 4th of July parade is one of the largest community events in this area and one of the most coveted events of the year. They saw how the 5k would bring more attendees and even entertain their current attendees while they wait for the parade to begin, and they saw great value in that.
Not all cities will be as cooperative as ours was, but it doesn’t hurt to approach your city with a well thought-out proposal of the benefit to the community. Make it about how it can benefit them, and not about you, when pitching the event.
Tradition (aka Retention)
This was a suspected, yet unclear benefit when we entered in. We didn’t realize just how powerful and invaluable this aspect would be. We have found the idea of tradition to be what has made this event a great success.
Holidays often bring about tradition and people gathering together every single year. This is why if you can find a way to infuse your 5k into people’s traditions, you will have happy and loyal attendees for a lifetime. Unlike many bucketlist 5ks where people attend once, and never again, making your 5k a community tradition will keep retention high.
To help build this retention, we provided dated finisher’s coins, and people collected those as mementos of their annual tradition.
We know many of you might be event promoters looking for the next awesome event to host and we truly think this is it. We want you to be successful, so we always enjoy sharing any tips and tricks we have learned along the way.
If this is an idea that interests you, please feel welcome to jot any questions you might have in the questions box below and we’d be happy to answer them and so what we can to help you out!