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Event Director of the Month - September 2014: Aaron Palaian, Onurmark

Aaron Palaian Aaron Palaian is founder and owner of Onurmark Productions, Houston’s largest event production company, founded in 2007. Palaian is fiercely proud, not only of the size of his events, which are some of Houston’s biggest, but of the quality. Well-known for putting on a professional and safe event, Onurmark brings back participants year after year.

How did you begin working in the endurance field?

I’ve been an athlete since high school, and have participated in many events. I’d seen, firsthand, the quality of the events and saw an opening to improve the quality all around. The catalyst was when I lost my job as a designer in Michigan and moved to Houston, Texas, and took a job as an art teacher. I knew that a lot of the cost of events is in marketing and I already had a background as a designer in Branding, Marketing and Promotion. I thought, “I don’t have to pay anyone to do it. I can do it!”

I was an art teacher for four years. For two of those years I was working two jobs, one as an art teacher and the other as a race director. I was working 80 hours a week at that point.

Which event did you start with and what's your strategy for the future?

I started with triathlons and there really wasn’t a better place. Houston has one of the largest cities in the country and the largest – if not the largest – populations of triathletes. In 2007, companies here were not using a lot of marketing, so I saw a real opening. Since that time, I’ve tried to diversify into other areas like half marathons. Ultimately, I would like to expand throughout the state and nation but I want to be smart about it and scale it right. At the moment, we want to focus on quality over quantity. It could be in the next 2 years or the next 10. We’ll see how it goes.

What set of marketing tactics have been the most effective for you. How do you reach your target audience?

Back in the day, like 7 years ago, we used to do things as grass roots as putting flyers on cars. But we stopped doing that when we kept seeing a 20% growth rate just from doing email blasts and Facebook. Now, that’s our primary source of marketing. I have a very large Facebook following, by comparison, to some other Triathlons. I’ve also been fortunate to partner with people who have helped me grow my email list. We’ve got 40,000 people on the list. That’s a big list and that’s helped a lot.

Recently, though, we’ve realized that there’s such an abundance of events, and the market is so saturated, that you have to be the one that gets in their face the most. Every type of advertising, no matter how big you become, is valuable. To maintain our customer base, we really have to reach new people, so we’re going back to some grass roots stuff too.

Are you changing the way you target first-timers vs. seasoned participants?

A lot of seasoned triathletes have done our events, so we just need to remind them to register, register, register. Once people have done our event, we feel like we’re known for quality and organization and they’ll come back as long as we remind them. A new customer, however, doesn’t know why they should choose our event over another, so gaining new customers has become more of a challenge. We have to get them out to our events so they can see the quality for themselves.

What has helped you become successful in managing complex operations?

Without question, it’s my crew. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the people around me. In the beginning I wasn’t organized and they have forced me to become organized. Now I can’t live without them. But I chose not to recruit just volunteers. I couldn’t just be the race director and have just volunteers. Starting in the 2nd year, I hired coordinators to be in charge of specific areas. We also have a large group of volunteers – but I realized I needed a paid staff. And they have made all of the difference. So it’s myself, an assistant race director, a small staff of coordinators and a group of 400 volunteers for each event.

I really wouldn’t be where I am without my staff. I’m like a conductor in a symphony. I wave my arms around, but they really make the magic happen.

What differentiates an Onurmark event from other events?

Very few events do what we do in terms of putting on a professional event. One thing that we really pride ourselves on is safety. We do traffic control right. Our number one priority is keeping people safe. Anyone can give you a bigger bag of race goodies, but that doesn’t matter if you get hurt. We have cones, boards, signs, barricades and police. And we own our own equipment, so that helps. We also notify the neighborhood about what will be going on, and we pride ourselves on information. Our websites and digital guides have more information than you’d ever need.

Some people hang their hat on what they give away. That’s not us. We pride ourselves on a quality event. As I mentioned, I think having my own equipment has really helped me as well. I rent out equipment and do consulting too.

Why did you decide to use ACTIVE Network and how long have you used them?

I’ve been with ACTIVE for 6 of my 7 years in the field. Now, more than ever, the system is the most intuitive and easy-to-use. And a lot of race directors use it. Plus, everyone goes to to search for events. The marketing value and search engine value of that alone are worth the price. I think you’re crazy for giving it away. That’s the equivalent of Google for this sport.

The support is also great. If I want something done, I get the support I need from ACTIVE. The professionalism in general is better and the user base is much larger than any other registration portal. I don’t like being with someone who copies the trailblazer and puts a different spin it. ACTIVE was the trailblazer in this space.

What advice would you give to a race director who is just starting out? Would you do anything different?

No. Every step I’ve taken, every path that I’ve been on has led me to where I am, and I like where I am. Even the struggles and stressful races. It’s a lot harder now, though, because there are so many events. I’m established and that’s a big part of how I stay successful now.

As for advice, I’d tell them to focus on quality over quantity. I’ve seen some race directors putting on 6 events in the first year. That’s too fast. Take your time and do it right. That could mean the difference between success and failure in the end.

Event Director of the Month - August 2014: Jason Crowther, Atlas Multisports

Jason Crowther In its third year, the 7 Sunshine Coast Marathon has become a must-do event for runners from across Australia and around the globe. Atlas Multisports manages this world-class running festival, which raises funds for the Ronald McDonald House of South East Queensland. The event features a marathon, half marathon, 10k, 5k, and 2k that run along the picturesque coastlines of Australia’s Sunshine Coast. We had a chance to talk with Jason Crowther, the managing director of Atlas Multisports. Here’s what he had to tell us about the event itself and his path to becoming a race director.

How did you become an event director?

I come from a running and professional athlete background. I started after my career coaching athletes and triathletes for Ironman and half Ironman events. I took it up as a hobby really. I started running some run events just because there was a lack of those types of events on the Sunshine Coast. I’m an engineer by trade, so up until a couple of years ago, I was working full time as an engineer. I really loved race directing, the whole organisation side of it, especially with the marathon. Six to nine months of work culminates in one day. I like that sort of pressure type situation. From that hobby, just putting in hard work on those smaller events, I was given the opportunity to run larger-scale events. Around the time of the Sunshine Coast Marathon, I decided to do it full time and become a race director.

What was your main mission or motivation for putting on the 7 Sunshine Coast Marathon?

A group of a couple of friends and myself went over to run the Las Vegas marathon. We were toying with a 5K or a 10k, similar to like a City to Surf type thing where it was a point-to-point type of event. Then we went over to Vegas and did the marathon and thought, why don’t we do a marathon? It could be the marquee event for running. We don’t have it on the Sunshine Coast. Let’s make it a world-class event and a not-for-profit event where all the benefits go back to the community and charity.

The big driver for me on that side is that it’s a Sunshine Coast event that is 100% owned by Sunshine Coast and 100% gives back to the Sunshine Coast.

What are some of the things you think set your event apart and help it be successful year after year?

We’ve done surveys on this and it’s split down the middle. For marathon and half marathon runners, it’s all about location. A flat path is cool. Being a community event, we get so much support from local businesses. The community knows that the funds are going to charity and not just to the event organiser.

From my point of view, I’m driven because I know that the more entrants I get, the harder I push my sponsors and my contractors, the more money goes back to charity. Obviously, the key thing for me is getting feet on the start line. I want to try and get as many people on the start line as possible and I want to raise as much money as possible.

What are your plans for the future?

I have a five-year plan to get the marathon to 10,000 plus competitors. The Sunshine Coast Marathon probably has a 12,500 to 15,000 thousand capacity long-term. If I can get it to the 10,000 mark, then we’re on our way to being full.

I want to start doing more events. I have a passion for triathlon; that’s my professional background. Triathlons are done very well on the coast. There’s a need for cycling events. I’m not looking to source another event, but if another event comes to me that I think is needed—that’s really important. If I think an event is needed or missing from the calendar, then that’s my next step.

I don’t want to do what’s already been done, because I’m not going to be successful if I do that. I need to fill a hole. With the marathon, we filled a hole and obviously it was a hole that needed to be filled. And that’s why it’s been so successful. I do think there could potentially be a cycling event on the Sunshine Coast.

Do you have any advice for race directors who might just be getting started?

I can only give the advice that other race directors have given me. When you’re first starting out, you’re going to have a marquee event. Put all your eggs in one basket and really work on that marquee event. Don’t get caught up in trying to run too many events initially, because you’re just going to dilute your message. Get that one event to a level where you’re happy with it. Then you can start looking at doing other events. Otherwise, your key event is going to suffer and the other events you try and do won’t be successful either.

Learn more about the 7 Sunshine Coast Marathon

Event Director of the Month - July 2014: Beth Salinger, Endurance Marketing Inc.
Beth Salinger

Beth Salinger is the Chief Event Officer and founder of Endurance Marketing Inc. From concept development to planning, execution and everything in between; she leads a passionate team of event managers to deliver memorable experiences for participants.  Her clients include the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon, Hospital Hill Run, All American Marathon, Fort2Base Race and more.

How did you become an event director?

I didn’t plan on becoming an event director! I have an English and Communications degree and worked in PR right out of college. I hated it and moved into the IT industry–I designed wide-area networks for Fortune 500 companies, mostly banks and law firms.  When the tech industry crashed in 2001, I started freelancing for small businesses and one of my first customers was the Washington DC Marathon.

I designed and installed the DC Marathon’s network and it was clear they also needed help with online registration. At that time, there were only a few companies who provided online registration and I chose ACTIVE, so I’ve worked with you guys for a long time.

The marathon also needed help with timing, so I took that on…and then they asked me to manage the expo (which I sold out!).  I ended up working for the event part-time and discovered I had a gift for event management. I loved the energy in the running world—people are happy and doing something that’s personally fulfilling.

At what point did you establish your own company, Endurance Marketing Inc.?

I was working part-time for the Washington DC Marathon and we had been successful in 2002, our inaugural year. But in 2003, the event was cancelled just days before the race due to the start of the Iraq War.  The marathon could not survive financially and it looked like I was out of a job.

Rick Nealis, director of the Marine Corps Marathon, called me and encouraged me to go out on my own.  He even offered to be a reference. I took his advice and started Endurance Marketing Inc. in May 2003.  That’s where it all started and I’ve grown my company almost entirely through word of mouth. To this day I consider Rick a good friend and adviser.  

Who else has been a major influence on your career?

This is my 11th year working with the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon and Jack Staph, the Executive Race Director, taught me a lot about how to be a businesswoman.  He always emphasises that while we’re having fun and making dreams come true, this is a business. Be professional, pay your bills on time, and don’t promise what you can’t deliver.  This business-focused approach to event directing has been incredibly important to my career.

I also worked closely with John Bingham, owner of John Bingham Racing LLC and the Chicago Distance Classic. (I was the event director for 6 years before the event was bought by Competitor Group.)  John is all about customer service.  He doesn’t believe in using “info@” email addresses and posted his personal email on the website. People were shocked that he spent so much time responding to emails, but he was adamant about the importance of that 1-1 interaction. As he said, “people will be loyal for life if you take five minutes to answer them,” and he was right. All the races I direct have my personal email and phone number posted and I try to instill the importance of that personal connection with all the people I work with.

How do you approach your relationships with vendors, sponsors, host cities, etc.?

I don’t have vendors, I have partners. If I have a problem, I want my partners to be just as invested in my event as I am. For example, both the event name and ACTIVE’s name are on the registration system—our success is tied together.  It’s a partnership.

Whether it’s a sponsor, partner, charity, client, or city official, it’s important to have a conversation around goals and how to meet them as a team.  For example, if a city wants to promote green initiatives, we’ll make sure to operate as “clean” as possible and get sponsors to support that.  And if we make a mistake, we fix it.

What are some pieces of advice to offer other race directors?

If you don’t live there already, spend a ton of time in your event cities. Get to know the flavor of the city and its ins and outs.  I’m so comfortable in the places I work in that I can give driving directions and restaurants suggestions. You don’t ever want to say “I don’t know” to a question about a city where your event is located.

Treat your very first participant and very last participant exactly the same.  You want it to be a great experience for everyone. No one finishes last in our events–we don’t even pull down the pace clocks or water stations until everyone has gone by.

And don’t overextend yourself just to increase numbers. It’s not worth getting an extra $100 to let in one more person, and then the back-of-the-packer who registered months in advance doesn’t get a medal. Stick to your plans and don’t make exceptions.

Finally have fun!  Running is fun and we are so lucky to work in this world!

Learn more about Endurance Marketing Inc.

Going Global with ACTIVE's Race Director Industry Forums
Digital Content Manager at ACTIVE Network
ACTIVE Race Director Forums Banner

The endurance events landscape is constantly changing, which means keeping up with industry trends is no mean feat. Event organisers rarely have time to sit down and analyse the trends that are impacting their industry. Many race directors have full-time day jobs and they don’t get a chance to attend targeted industry events for those in the sports events sector. ACTIVE Network’s Race Director Industry Forums fill that gap!

ACTIVE organised over 20 Industry Forums across North America, The UK, Singapore and Hong Kong this year. The Forums give event organisers across the globe a chance to network and learn about the major trends affecting their events in a refreshingly informal, interactive setting. 

Our Industry Forums outside North America now include a number of industry experts as guest speakers. We’ve heard from event marketing experts Alistair Gammell, MD of Earnest Agency; Mike Imre, Co-Founder of Blue Post Digital; and landmark event organisers, such as: Dennis Ng, Executive Director of the Hong Kong Amateur Athletic Association; and Sem Phalla, MD of the Angkor Wat International Half Marathon.

This year’s Forums focused on:

  • Running and MOB™ participation studies
  • Technology trends
  • The rise of the experiential consumer
  • Social media
  • Event pricing strategies

The upcoming Sydney and Melbourne Forums will feature: Nick Munting, Director at X-Tri and The Color Run; and David Culbert, Owner at Jump Media & Marketing. We are looking forward to hearing these speakers share their expertise!

ACTIVE Network Singapore Forum

ACTIVE Race Director Forum LondonACTIVE Race Director Forum Asia


Feedback from Forum participants:

“Fantastic, learnt lots and good to hear experts in our industry.” Tiffany Creasey, British Military Fitness, The Major Series, attended the London Forum.

“Really good to share more of ACTIVE’s learnings worldwide. Inspired thoughts.” Ruth Bowen, CLIC Sargent, attended the Bristol Forum.

“Great information, informative professional presenters, definitely would like to participate again.” Rachel Lengelotti, ORION Racing, attended the Atlanta Forum.

“Meeting organisers from different countries gave me a lot of insight about what to do this year.” Ahmad Nazmie Hj Omar, BIBD Charity Expedition, attended the Singapore Forum.

“Packed with market trends and insights…very useful for event planning.” Oscar Choi, Hong Kong Marathon Secretariat, attended the Hong Kong Forum.

If you would like to attend a future Industry Forum, you can contact us at

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Event Director of the Month: Stuart Hamilton, Event Director, OMM (Original Mountain Marathon)

Stuart Hamilton We like to celebrate the success of race directors around the globe and their contribution to making the world a more active place. So this month we caught up with Stuart Hamilton, who’s taken the Original Mountain Marathon’s race series to new heights with rapid international expansion and the addition of OMM Japan.

Quick race overview:

Since 1968 the OMM has remained the original mountain marathon.  It is a test of self-sufficiency, of self-reliance and endurance.  With a race series comprising seven events in four different countries at present, OMM is set to expand to bring affordable and exceptionally well organised racing across the world.

Stuart, how did you get started in the business?

I’m a former Royal Marine and also a member of the British Navy ski team. I’ve always been into sport and when I decided that I’d had enough of being shot at, I needed something that would maintain my interest and excitement in the job.

How long have you been involved with the OMM?

I’ve been involved with OMM for four years, since 2010.  The company has evolved and now boasts a full international race series, which I am in the process of expanding due to the success that we’ve seen with the original OMM (25 & 26 Oct 2014) and the other races in our portfolio.

What were the biggest changes in the industry you noticed in 2013?

The biggest change in the industry that I’ve noticed is that people want to register online at the very last minute and race same weekend. Obviously, this is not always possible for more complicated and challenging events like the OMM.  I’ve also noticed that due to the increased breadth of available races/challenges that the discerning factor is increasingly the quality of organisation behind the event. Since 1968 we have dedicated ourselves to providing the best mountain marathons available.

What do you think is in store for you and the industry in 2014?

I wish that I could see into the future for the industry.  For OMM, there will be renewed focus on bike racing and expanding our race portfolio, which has been increased by the addition of OMM Japan.

Do you have any advice to share with other event directors?

My advice is threefold:
a)  Plan your contingencies;
b)  Manage your social media; and
c)  Come and do the OMM this October and see how it’s done.

Race Directors, do you want to take Stuart up on his challenge? Check out the OMM!


Digital Marketing Sense-Check

Digital Marketing Sense-Check Guest Post: Alistair Gammell, Managing Director (Sport and Entertainment), Earnest Agency

The panel and audience discussion at the London Race Director Industry Forum threw up some useful points that Earnest and Bluepost have collated as a starting point for evaluating your current digital strategy. There was a general conclusion that most events have a number of great digital assets in place – from rich content to proactive social media engagement – but there is a definite opportunity to improve impact by connecting the dots more efficiently.


The key to successful marketing is knowing who your audience is and reaching them in a way that changes their behaviour. This can be achieved through reaching your existing databases and potential audiences with dynamic pricing and great content, connecting them emotionally to your brand. By knowing which message works best with which audience, you can maximise your spend over a short period of time. Remember to use non-paid for channels first (partners, sponsors, PR, owned channels etc.) and work everything back to revenue.


Whether interested site visitors are coming from ‘earned’ or ‘paid’ channels – they will judge (and ultimately sign up to) your event based on the content you publish. The data you can access for free (see above) can tell you what type of content creates engagement and conversion so you can tailor your content mix accordingly. There are very few sectors where passion for the product is this high and there’s a huge opportunity to learn from your community then to show them you are listening – improving retention and referrals over time. Your goal should be to make everyone who connects with your brand to become an advocate, sharing your message and bringing in others.


Google alerts and simply following your competitors on social media channels can tell you plenty about what is working well in your given sector. If people are sharing content and talking about an event then consider how that compares to your own activity. If an event is ranking well on search engines then monitor the content that is generating that visibility.


Digital marketing covers an awful lot of options and not all will be viable or indeed right for you. Working out your goals then setting them against budget and resource will enable you to identify the areas you can get the most out of initially. Less can certainly be more if you understand the audience and have a content plan to target them. Stagger your activity to allow you to do each effectively and giving you a better understanding of what works and what doesn’t.


By understanding your audience channels, and tracking consistently you can constantly test and refine your marketing activity. A great piece of content can improve registrations while generating social comments and this can impact your search engine rankings. Looking for actions that can impact across multiple areas from the same basic effort will ensure you get the maximum from your input and from your marketing budget.

There’s lots more to think about but starting with these core considerations should give you a platform to work with. If you would like to chat to the guys at Earnest and / or Bluepost they are always happy to share their thoughts on the right way to meet your specific challenges and opportunities.

For questions on creative, messaging and targeting your audience with the right data strategy: 

Alistair Gammell 
Managing Director – Sport and Entertainment
Mobile: (0)7795 116975
Direct line: (0)20 3463 9451

For questions on integrating your digital activity for social media and search visibility:

Mike Imrie

Mobile: (0)7967 008467
Direct line: 0203 405 3053


Interview with: Ahmad Nazmie Hj Omar, Event Organiser, BIBD Charity Expedition

Event Directors Around the World
Interview with: Ahmad Nazmie Hj Omar, Event Organiser, BIBD Charity Expedition

Nazmie Omar

The BIBD Charity Expedition has expanded its reach from helping to raise funds for the victims of the 2011 Tsunami in Japan, to raising funds for sponsorship schemes aiding under-privileged children with their education and life-long learning from as early as primary stage up to university level. The 2013 BIBD Charity Expedition, organised by Ahmad Nazmie Hj Omar, consisted of 6 different sporting events, including a Charity Run and Charity Cycle.

Over 6000 participants turned up to show their support for BIBD’s flagship event. We were interested to find out how they managed to organise such a large scale charitable event, attract so much support from the participants, and what’s to come for 2014.

How did you get involved with the BIBD Charity Expedition?

I graduated in health and social care, and I started working for BIBD in 2010. The Bank offered me a position in the CSR team; so when the tsunami happened in Japan, we gathered a team of 7-10 people together to see what we could do to help raise funds. We then brainstormed and discussed all our options and decided to put together a charity run. At the time, it felt like the fastest way to raise funds due to the time sensitivity of the matter. But we were wrong; time quickly passed and it was already a week after the occurrence of the tsunami, and we had already full committed to go all-out and raise as much for charity as we could.  

What were the main challenges you faced during your first event?

The first year we faced quite a number of manageable obstacles. For example, due to time constraints, we didn’t consider any online registrations and race pack collection systems. We had a few difficulties when we were giving away the race entry packs.

On the race entry pack day, all the participants were waiting for their race t- shirts, which were not delivered on time as the vendor was still making the t-shirts. We literally had to get into our cars, drive to the warehouse and pick it up ourselves. This meant half of our team went to pick up the race t-shirts, and the other half stayed with the participants at the pick-up point. Within two hours, we managed to get all the race t-shirts to the participants.

We realised that the problem was also a result of not having the proper tables, race pack collection etc., because back then we were using paper-only registration. We also didn’t have any payment gateways which meant people could only pay for their registration over the counters. There was where we lost a lot of valuable time.

Another more serious dilemma was regarding one of our competitive categories – the 10km category. The flag-off was fine, but as soon as the first runner had crossed the finishing line, we soon realised that we didn’t confirm the presence of our appointed time-recorders at the finishing line. We also didn’t source for timing chips, as we thought that we could use the gun time and record individually their times using a stopwatch. Obviously people complained, but eventually they got over it. Admittedly, we announced that it was our first ever event, and what we took away from the whole experience was far more important, especially regarding on having enough manpower to properly utilise, on top of the obstacles mentioned earlier.

How has your role evolved from Event Coordinator in 2011 to Project Manager/Event Director in 2013?

The first time coordinating the run was very challenging, but I have learned a lot of things along the way. 2011 was my first time organising a run. I was not active in sports at the time, let alone a runner. From an event coordinator’s point-of-view, we had our ups and downs and some challenges during the first year. We obviously learned from our mistakes and put systems in place to improve the following year. The team around us powered through everything and we managed to put in place a better charity run, all arranged on time.

Things have come such a long way since then. What were your main challenges in organising the 2013 race?

Having ACTIVE on board as a partner for the second year, I was confident that we wouldn’t have the same sort of troubles as previously experienced. Having an online platform for people to register made things so much easier. There was minimal back-office and administration work, as registration was being handled by ACTIVE, and we needed to do was to just extract it from their database.

The 2013 race came to us with such an overwhelming response which surpassed all our expectations. Herein lies our main challenge, whereas our second year saw our registration numbers more than double from an initial 1,000 registrants, 2013 saw our numbers almost triple to more than 5,000. It was safe to say that we were overwhelmed with the sheer number of participants. Nevertheless, we have prepared all the groundwork months before in anticipation of the challenges incurred in the first year.

To further boost our capabilities as run organisers, The BIBD CSR team and I participated in a few external running events. It presented us with a different outlook as we had to open our eyes to see and learn what other event organisers were doing, the media platforms used to communicate, and race pack procedures. We learned a lot by doing this and improved on areas which we lacked. Not all events are perfect, but we saw where we could make changes and progressively improved.

With the amount of work that you had to do, did it help having an online registration system that automated some of your tasks?

Yes, it helped a lot. If I was to compare it with our very first event, we were up all night in our offices until 3am every single day for a week. We literally had physical paper forms and a computer in front of us. The only way we could input and extract data was to key in participants details one by one. That was pretty tough. We were forced to divide ourselves into groups to carry out all the tasks, and even asked for volunteers to help key in information. We also had a dedicated volunteer team to handle procurements, and race entry pack etc.

ACTIVE has been a great help to us. Without ACTIVE, we wouldn’t have been able to more than double our registration numbers. Our event is mainly done for charities, so we also utilised the donation card feature last year which was really useful. From that, we managed to multiply the amount raised for our ALAF Fund by six times, outweighing the triple increase in number of participants. In the first year we managed to raise c. B$56,000 and managed to increased it to c. B$330,000 in our second year, which all went to charity.

The BIBD Midnight Marathon runners managed to raise over $52,700. How much did you manage to raise in total for the charity?

We went from raising B$330,000 (in 2012) to B$600,000 in 2013. We also had two groups of participant categories from which the funds were raised from. One large group was given donation cards while there was a select few for the 42KM categories who raised funds from a sponsorship program.

We didn’t want to make a 42KM open category because we wanted our first time organising a 42Km run to be a success. Not only was it our first time, but a 42Km run has not been organised in Brunei for over a decade, which doesn’t help as Brunei doesn’t have a flat land mass. From my understanding, a proper 42Km needs to have 70-80% flat land. So, in order to manage expectations, we had to limit participation for the 42KM category to only 25 participants.

The 42Km runners ran the sponsorship program, where we would advertise their profiles on the BIBD Charity Expedition website,, which showcases the reason why they were running. Some of them had never done a 42Km run, whereas others were seasoned runners. We hand-picked the selection of 25 participants, which were given an option to attend a running clinic and appointed a coach to aid them with their training efforts. Pictures of the participants of the participants were also posted on the website, along with their pledges. This was done so that any interested sponsor would select a runner for every km they ran.

We also had a corporate category, where corporate bodies were required to donate a minimum of B$50 per km. There we also gained a lot of corporate sponsorship and support. So from 25 people, we managed to raise approximately more than B$50,000. If we compare that to our first event of raising a B$56,000 from 1000 participants, I would say our 2013 Charity Expedition was a major success.

How did you attract so many sponsors and supporters for your race?

We got the word out by using various platforms, including social media - Instagram, Facebook, and WhatsApp. The 42km participant profiles were also placed on Instagram with a link to our website.

However, this was also an initiative carried out by the runners themselves as we encouraged them to approach corporate sponsors themselves. We provided the 25 participants with a letter stating that they were running the 42KM for a charity programme for underprivileged students (ALAF), reinforcing the uniqueness of our cause and that this was also the first 42KM race in more than a decade.

With so many different stakeholders, did you find data/result reporting to be a challenge?

We thought it would be an issue, but it wasn’t. Before we jumped into it we had a meeting with ACTIVE and we told them that we wanted our reporting to be intuitive and simple. We wanted to categorise the reports by sponsorship, (corporate sponsorship and individual sponsorship). ACTIVE made it happen and the reporting was a lot easier.

The initiative was intended to change a child’s life by taking one step. What’s the next step for BIBD’s Charity Expedition in 2014?

For 2014 - We are hoping to actually organise another event. From the overwhelming response we had last year and those who didn’t get to run the 42Km, we are still receiving messages and questions on our website – is the 42KM category going to be open this year? Will it be limited to 25 people? We haven’t decided yet, we might do an open 42Km because we have a lot of local and foreign runners who are interested in doing the 42km run category in Brunei. That would present a huge step for us.

How are you planning to increase or drive more registrations and fundraising in 2014?

A majority of our efforts will see us use a lot more of social media. ACTIVE’s Social Media integration and newsletters are hugely important platforms for us too.  Also Google search results for ‘run’ and ‘event’ are really important.

We also use our BIBD branches to promote our events, but we really want to grab the attention and interest of the international market as well. In 2012 we had about 55 international runners; in 2013 the number jumped to about 300 international runners. We would like to attract more of the international market and I think that ACTIVE can help us with that. Brunei is situated in a way that it is in the centre of Asia, so we can reach out to and attract a lot of people from neighbouring countries even further away, such as Australia.

As a successful event organiser/director, what advice would you give to any aspiring race directors out there looking to organise their own charity event?

It is going to be a challenging job! My advice would be to think about the event day, when people cross the line, think about and prepare for all eventualities. You have to learn what to point out, what you want done, and how it’s different from other events. You need a good team - a good committed team is essential to holding a successful event. Networking is also very important.  For me, in the last three years, I’ve gotten to know a lot of people and that’s key.

Must attend events for endurance events organisers

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If you organise sporting events such as a run, triathlon, cycling event or others, there are some industry shows and conferences that enable you to promote your event, learn best practices, network with other professionals, potential partners, charities and sponsors and get the information you need to make your next race a success.

We have compiled below a selection of the top international events across Europe and Asia-Pacific that you should consider to add to your calendar this year.


Date: February, 13-16
Name:The London Bike Show
Location: London, UK
Description: This is both a consumer and cycling industry event where the Annual International Cyclefit Symposium will be taking place. The symposium will focus on bikefit education and debate promoted amongst consumers and industry professionals.
More information:

Date: March, 1-3 (south) and May 17, 18
Name:Triathlon Show
Location: Sandown Park, UK (March) and Bolton (May)
Description: The most recognised consumer and professionals event in the triathlon industry in the UK is being held twice this year, in South and North England.
More information: and

Date: May, 10-11
Name:Irish Cycling Show
Location: Dublin, Ireland
Description: The main cycling event in Ireland dedicated to the consumer and cycling professionals where there is opportunity to network with suppliers, media, charities, celebrity guests and top cyclists.
More information:

Date: July, 12-13
Name:ITU World Triathlon Expo Hamburg
Location: Hamburg, Germany
Description: The expo takes place during the ITU World Triathlon competition and is a renown opportunity in the triathlon calendar for event professionals to meet participants and network with relevant professionals.
More information:

Date: September 25-28
Name:The Cycle Show
Location: Birmingham, UK
Description: The show offers industry professionals the opportunity to showcase their services to thousands of consumers and meet over 3,000 members of the bike trade.
More information:



Date: May, TBC
Name:Sundown Race Expo 2014
Location: Singapore
Description: A key event for endurance event organisers, suppliers, event promoters in both Singapore and overseas.
More information:

Date: September, 16-18
Name:Sports Matters
Location: Singapore
Description: With an eye on Asia, Sports Matters focuses on what the future of the industry will look like, who and what is driving it, and how the Asian region contributes to the global sports industry.Last year it attracted over 420 attendees from over 20 countries, including speakers, broadcasters and brands.
More information:

Date:October, TBC
Name:Sport and Running Expo
Location: Jakarta
Description: Sport and Running Expo is the pre-event of The Jakarta Marathon, and will be held prior to the Jakarta Marathon
More information:

Date:November, 21-23
Name:Sports Competition Outdoor Recreation Expo 2014
Location: Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre, Malaysia
Description: SCORE (Sports, Competition, Outdoor Recreation Expo) is the first diversified sports expo in Malaysia providing a platform for businesses involved in the sports and recreation-related industry to promote their products, activities and services.
More information:

Date:Nov/Dec, TBC
Name:Singapore Sports Expo (SSE) 2014
Location: Singapore
Description: Singapore Sports Expo (SSE) attracts serious marathon runners from all over the world. Last year it attracted 100,000 visitors with top-notch sports brands.
More information:


Date:April, 1-2
Name:BOSS 2014 Business of Sport Summit
Location: Sofitel Wentworth, Sydney, Australia
Description: SBOSS is an event like no other, a unique opportunity, congregating board and executive level sports industry representatives from across the industry spectrum.
More information:

Date:April, 5-6
Name:Barfoot & Thomson World Triathlon Expo Auckland
Location: Auckland, New Zealand
Description: This sports and lifestyle expo will be held as part of the 2014 Barfoot & Thomson World Triathlon.
More information:

Date:October, 11-12
Location:Melbourne, Australia
Description: In addition to the 2 consumer days, Ausbike is the annual trade gathering of the Australian Cycling Industry where event organisers, retailers, manufacturers and more conduct the business of cycling.
More information:

Date:October, 31-November, 2
Name:Noosa Sport and Lifestyle Expo
Location:Noosa, Australia
Description: The Noosa Sport and Lifestyle Expo will be held as part of Australia’s biggest Triathlon festival.
More information: Noosa Sport and Lifestyle Expo

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Must Attend Events for Event Professionals in 2014

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With the continuous advancements in event production and the networking nature of the industry, event professionals must keep on top of their game. Finding out what’s hot and meeting who is influential often happens at trade shows, conferences and other events specifically for event professionals.

Whether you live in Europe or in Asia-Pacific we have put together the hottest list of must attend international events in 2014!


Date: February, 18-19
Name:Asia-Pacific Incentives and Meetings Expo (AIME) 2014
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Description: AIME is the largest international business expo in Australia with over 750 exhibitors from 5 continents. It’s designed for those involved in organising business travel, meetings, incentives and events.
More information:

Date: May, 14-17
Name:The Meetings & Events Australia (MEA) Annual Conference
Location: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Description: MEA is dedicated to servicing the needs of the meetings & events industry and promoting professionalism and excellence in all aspects of meetings and event management. It is the first time the Australian organisation holds the event internationally since Hong Kong in the year 2000.
More information:

Date: September, 30 September-2 October
Name:IT&CMA and CTW Asia-Pacific
Location: Bangkok, Thailand
Description:The World's Only Double bill Event in MICE and Corporate Travel. Both events have been co-locating since 2004. The event offers its delegates an unparalleled platform to do business, learn and network.
More information:

Date:October, 29-31
Name:ITB Asia
Description: Where international exhibitors of all sectors of the travel-value chain, Asia Pacific's leading travel companies, and emerging small and medium-sized enterprises meet with top international buyers from the MICE, Leisure and Corporate Travel markets.
More information:


Date: February, 11-12
Name:Event production Show
Location: London, UK
Description: This is the annual meeting place where the most innovative event products and services are released and an opportunity for event professionals to network.
More information:

Date:March, 12-13
Location:London, UK
Description: The event that connects event organisers with venues, destinations, and event support services.
More information:

Date:April, 27-29
Name:Association Congress Paris
Location: Paris, France
Description: The International and European Associations Congress has become the annual meeting ground for association executives. Now the 12th event in the series, it has grown to be Europe's most authoritative educational programme.
More information:

Date:May, 20-22
Name:IMEX 2014
Location: Frankfurt, Germany
Description: IMEX 2014 is the show that innovates, inspires and presents new opportunities for the global meetings industry.
More information:

Date:July, 8-10
Name:The Meetings Show
Location: London, UK
Description: The event where the meetings industry will meet to do business, develop industry knowledge, catch up on the latest trends, establish new partnerships or simply re-establish old friendships.
More information:

Date:November, 18-20
Name:EIBTM 2014
Description: Through highly-targeted introductions, EIBTM brings you face-to-face with the right people in the right organisations in order to build relations, develop your business and expand your knowledge.
More information:

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BIG NEWS: ACTIVE reveals the winners of the Event Makeover Raffle

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Digital Content Manager at ACTIVE Network

Over the past month ACTIVE Network has been giving event organisers the chance to win an Event Makeover by entering an online raffle.

I am pleased to announce that the winners are:

Salisbury 5-4-3-2-1 for EMEA and TEDxCanberra for APAC region. ACTIVE will join the lucky winners on their event planning journey, providing them with:

  • A full expert review of actionable items to maximise their event ROI.
  • 1:1 training on how to successfully track, measure, and report on their event.
  • Fully customisable assets created by our team of design and UX experts to promote their event online and offline!
  • A next generation landing page to increase their event engagement and registrations.
  • And last but not least, a 2 hour 1:1 training session on how to make the most of the latest online registration and participant management platforms to maximise their event registrations and performance.

Think you missed your chance? Don’t worry! ACTIVE’s team of experts have been working on a little surprise for all those who weren’t selected or didn’t get a chance to participate – A Mini-Makeover Pack!

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View the original post here.

As we look on to the New Year, we’re excited about where our industry is headed and want to share the top 5 event technology trends for 2014 we think should be on your radar.

1. Cloud software will make a huge footprint in the industry

Event planners continue to work in a high-stress, high-demand field – that is definitely not a new trend. But event technology designed to make their lives easier is absolutely at the top of our trends list. Moving away from multiple-point solutions to one consolidated platform (cloud software) is one of the most talked about topics in the meetings and events industry now and growing into the future. “We’re seeing over 50% of enterprises prioritising private cloud in 2013 to 2014, and there will likely be very few private clouds that don’t have a public [hybrid] component,” said Dave Bartoletti, analyst with Forrester Research Inc.

In fact, according to Gartner, by 2016 cloud computing will become the bulk of IT spend and nearly half of large enterprises will have hybrid cloud deployments by the end of 2017 [1]

2. Big Data will lead the way to big business success

While you may just be on the cusp of understanding what Big Data means and how it benefits your business, enterprise companies are already seeing the positive effects of Big Data initiatives. A recent survey paper, The Big Potential of Big Data: A Field Guide for CMOs from Forbes and Rock Fuel, finds that most marketers agree Big Data helps:

  • More than 9 in 10 companies (92%) who said they had made sufficient use of Big Data met or exceeded their goals, while just 5% of those who made sufficient use of it fell short [2]
  • Companies are looking for ways to merge their event marketing and spend data to gain a better understanding of their business and apply those conclusions to improved business practices – such as more efficient event management and dynamic attendee experiences.

    3. SMM will be the phrase heard round-the-world

    Strategic Meetings Management (SMM) is starting to emerge in Europe, in which the German Convention Bureau revealed in a recent meetings and conventions study that 28.6% of respondents felt very strongly that globalisation will be influential in the future [3].

    The more notable location to watch though is China, as their business travel spending is projected to expand 17.2% in 2014 [4]. SMM adoption throughout Asia-Pacific, especially in China, will be essential as businesses there struggle to contain costs and cut risk. Steve O’Malley, Senior Vice President of Maritz Travel explains that many companies are now looking, “to find ways to enjoy the savings and risk mitigations that they’re now getting here in North America, where SMMP [Strategic Meetings Management Program] is a well-developed practice, and extend that overseas to the other largest markets they serve.”

    4. Hybrid Events will be more than your event’s sidekick

    Meeting organisers are progressing from just having a conversation about hybrid events, to now actually making them part of their event. Event webcasting and hybrid events are hitting a tipping point, especially now that real data exists to show their value. According to a recent Aberdeen Group report, 55% of companies surveyed plan to either start using or increase their use of virtual online events [5], in part as a way to show a meeting or event’s return on investment.

    Another reason is conversion. The 2013 Virtual Edge Institute Digital Event Benchmark Report stated that 47.7% of respondents said 10% or higher of their past online attendees have attended a subsequent in-person event. Additionally, a recent project conducted by Meeting Professionals International (MPI), sponsored by Sonic Foundry (Disclosure: Sonic Foundry is an ACTIVE Network partner), showed that 23% of event planners surveyed said that after going hybrid, attendance actually went up [6]. But remember, you can’t just decide to go hybrid – you have to really own it to be successful. Samuel J. Smith, an event technology consultant and President of Interactive Meeting Technology, put things in perspective: it’s all about “how you design the content and the experience to engage those people and keep them connected.” Which brings us to our next trend…

    5. Content will remain king – with no plans of giving up the crown

    According to MPI’s 2013 Q3 Business Barometer [7], innovative format and content delivery is a major meetings industry trend. It’s more important than ever to be creating content that adds value to your audience and ignites an interest and loyalty with them to your business. Content also plays a role in helping events attract attendees by building a “buyer’s vision” that addresses challenges and solutions [8].

    “The user is now at the top of the value chain. The consumer is deciding what they want to see and how they want to see it,” said Buzzfeed’s Jonathan Perelman, VP of Agency Strategy [9]. Very true and you might already be aware of. But he adds on with something you’ll want to take with you into the New Year, about understanding how content travels online, “Data is useless unless you have insights on it… content is king but distribution is queen and she wears the pants.” Going back to Trend #2 on our list – get on board with Big Data!

    Additional articles on event and meeting trends for 2014:

    IMEX Forecasts 2014 Meeting Trends (IMEX)
    4 Trends That Will Impact Meeting Professionals in 2014 (PCMA)
    14 Meetings Technology Trends to Watch for 2014 (Corbin Ball)
    10 Event Trends for 2014 (Event Manager Blog)

    Meetings & Events Advises on 2014 Trends (CWT)
    Top Meeting Trends of 2014 (Destination Hotels & Resorts)
    Top 5 Meetings Megatrends (German Convention Bureau)
    Top 10 Wellness Travel Trends of 2014 (Wellness Tourism Worldwide)

    Feel free to share your own 2014 meeting and event predictions below. We wish you lots of success in the New Year!

    [1] Gartner Says Cloud Computing Will Become the Bulk of New IT Spend by 2016, October 24, 2013
    [2] Survey Demonstrates The Benefits Of Big Data, Forbes, November 15, 2013
    [3] German Convention Bureau Study Reveals Future Industry Trends, Meetings & Conventions, October 23, 2013
    [4] GBTA Predicts China Business Travel Spend to Increase by 14.3% in 2013, and at More than Double the Rate of the US in 2014, GBTA, October 24, 2013
    [5] Event Marketing, Aberdeen Group, November 2013
    [6] Americas: How to Create a Hybrid Event, International Meetings Review, November 18, 2013
    [7] Meeting Professionals Trade Uncertainty for Creativity, MPI Reports, Successful Meetings, November 6, 2013
    [8] Event Marketing, Aberdeen Group, November 2013
    [9] Digital advertising: ‘If content is king, distribution is queen’, ScreenDaily, October 23, 2013

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    What next for MOB Events in 2014?

    2013 was a phenomenal year for the worldwide expansion of MOB™ events. What is a MOB event? MOB stands for non-traditional, hyper social, experiential events, combining Mud Runs, Obstacles and Beers and more. The first real MOB event, the Spartan Race, took place in 2005 and since then MOB events have been multiplying across the globe. In 2013 leading MOB event brands such as the Color Run and the Electric Run were a success in countries all over the world.

    What will 2014 have in store for MOB events?

    The popularity of Mob events shows no signs of vanishing. A recent 2013 survey answered by 1200+ members of the community indicated that 86% of those surveyed were planning to participate in MOB events in 2014. More than half of those surveyed (64%) also indicated that they plan to participate in 1 to 2 events in the next year.

    Why are participants so drawn to MOB events?

    A majority of participants (86%) surveyed cite the ‘fun factor’ as being the main reason for them signing up for these events. The survey results also revealed that team participation is extremely popular, with team participation growing by 25% year-on-year.

    From the organisers’ perspective, MOB events are becoming a powerful alternative to traditional endurance events in developed endurance markets. In countries like Australia and Singapore, event organisers are increasingly competing to have a unique event date. The pressure to differentiate their events from the competition is ensuring that organisers are becoming even more creative in their approach.

    In Singapore alone from December 2013 to early 2014 new event formats such as the military style Commando Challenge, zombie fun runs such as Run for your lives and electric wonderland experiences such as The Electric Run are taking place for the first time. In other countries such as Hong Kong, the major trend in 2014 will be the growth of charity events. Events such as The Prodigy Running Skirt Chaser, the International Beer Dash and the Cyberport Run for Rehab are all providing different event experiences to raise funds for an important cause.

    MOB events in the UK have also been growing at an incredible rate. With an average 400% growth since 2011, some of the most popular being Rock Solid Race, Commando Challenge and X Runner. Over 50% of MOB events organised throughout the UK are connected to a charity and have thus become a new fundraising source for good causes.

    What will be the major driver for MOB events in 2014?

    The novelty and fun factor is what initially attracts first time MOB-sters, however, the 2013 ACTIVE survey showed that a key motivator for many participants was the chance to spend time with their friends.. The survey also showed that 55% of participants post photos on Facebook and 34% hear about the events on social media. It’s clear that social media will continue to drive participation and engagement in 2014. With more MOB events taking place in new locations, it’s time to get your MOB team ready for 2014! Another exciting year for MOB events is on the way.
    View the Profile of a MOB-ster info graphic here

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    We’re thrilled that our customers, Cisco and Adobe, were recognised for their achievements in meetings and events recently at Event Marketer magazine’s annual EventTech conference. Here’s a summary from Christine Gallatig-Ottow, who attended the EventTech Conference with our customers.

    Onsite Social Media Hub Marries Online and Onsite Event Participation and earns Cisco Live the Gold at EventTech

    With its hashtag trending nationally twice on Twitter during its event, it is easy to see why Cisco Live won the Gold EventTech Award for “Best Use of Social Media B-to-B” at the EventTech Conference in Las Vegas November 4-6. In a workshop, Kathleen Mudge, consultant and social media manager for Cisco Live, shared how Cisco Live 2013 reached 227 million social media impressions – an increase of almost double over the year before.

    Cisco dedicated onsite space near registration for a very visible “Social Media Hub,” where Cisco Live attendees could view all event posts and activity on large screens, and interact with the social media team. Many would stop and tweet or post, and then take a picture of their post when they saw it on the ‘big screen”. Thus, online engagement turned into onsite engagement and vice-versa.

    The space also included a lounge area for those who wanted to set “meet or tweet-ups.” Mudge advised the hub played a major role in keeping the attendees networking and social media activity focused on the Cisco brand during the event.

    Here are some key takeaways from Cisco’s success:

    • Conduct pre-event listening to know top trends, interests among your audience;
    • Plan out your workflow, staff roles and responsibilities in advance;
    • Create an event playbook and map out your pre-set posts, tweets, in advance but also leave room for your real-time onsite creative program;
    • Measure outcomes and discuss insights.

    Adobe wins EventTech Award for “Best Use of Data Collection Technology.”

    Adobe won big at EventTech, too. Adobe won for the innovative ways in which the company used ACTIVE Conference™ for Adobe Summit, one of the world’s premiere digital marketing events. Adobe leveraged the capabilities of ACTIVE Conference to provide attendees with more personalised experiences at the event. ACTIVE Conference provided Summit participants with:

    • registration services
    • breakout session management
    • onsite session scanning
    • lead management
    • The services enabled the participants to maximise their experience at the conference and provided the data needed for more personalised lead nurturing, which led to a strong return on investment.

      Nice going, Adobe!

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    Last week, on the 31st October, ACTIVE Network organised an inaugural Breakfast Event Technology Seminar dedicated to Professional Conference Organisers and Event Planners in Singapore. ACTIVE Network partnered with SACEOS, the Singapore Association of Convention and Exhibition Organisers and Suppliers for this event.

    The early morning start certainly didn’t discourage guests from attending and the event kicked off with a full house of representatives from leading Singaporean Professional Conference Organisers (PCOs), corporate event planners and event agencies. Guests had time to do some networking while tucking into a delicious dim sum breakfast.

    The first seminar speaker was Ms. Mei-Sin Yeow, Director, Marketing Communications SACEOS. Mei-Sin gave a warm introduction and spoke about the growing partnership between ACTIVE Network and SACEOS. The second speaker was Mr. Sam Renouf, VP, Emerging Markets / GM, Asia Pacific who introduced The ACTIVE Network and spoke about the main challenges facing event organisers based on the results of the Event Marketing Institute study into Event Technology Trends (2012).

    The practical seminar component was led by Brian Bergey, Manager, Client Services Asia Pacific, who showcased ACTIVE Network’s newly revamped RegOnline platform. Brian took seminar attendees through the typical event planner cycle, from building the online registration form, to using the reporting function to doing on-site check in. After Brian’s engaging product demonstration, the floor was opened to questions from the audience. A number of interesting discussion points were raised by the audience including questions around registration form access, payment gateways, mobile compatibility and how the RegOnline form looks on a user’s website. Ms Janet Tan-Collis, President of SACEOS also raised some important questions about how event technology can be best adopted by event planners in Singapore. The RegOnline demonstration and Q&A session were well received by all who attended. We are looking forward to organising future event technology seminars to continue to support the Meetings, incentives, conferencing and exhibitions industry in Singapore!

    Here is a message from our partner SACEOS:

    SACEOS is delighted to see many of our members at the Event Technology Breakfast Seminar at White Tangerine. We are convinced that you will enjoy using RegOnline as much as SACEOS Secretariat has. Since October, we have migrated all our event registration to RegOnline, and have been enjoying tremendous support from ACTIVE Network. Those of you who have registered for any of SACEOS' events, would have experienced how fast and easy RegOnline is.

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    ACTIVE Network and JustGiving announced last week at an event held at ACTIVE Network offices in London to an audience of 29 charities, the debut of "The Event Fundraising Monitor: What's Next for Events?". This new report shares insights on fundraising for organised events. The report uses analysis of trends seen on ACTIVE Network and JustGiving's own platforms, combined with survey data conducted in September 2013 among fundraisers and charities throughout the UK[2]. It has been launched as ACTIVE Network and JustGiving unveil a new integration on the ACTIVEWorks® technology platform, which allows event organisers to seamlessly manage registration and fundraising, helping charities to reach more supporters, raise more money and save time.

    Among the findings, the "The Event Fundraising Monitor" report revealed that:

    • Running events remain a strong fundraising conduit as 77% of all event fundraising pages reviewed in the report are created for running events
    • 25% of the charities surveyed see Running as the leading category for generating income
    • Cycling has seen the largest increase in fundraising, growing by 30% since 2011, making it the third most popular event type among fundraiser managers surveyed after Running and Walking
    • Fundraising for Triathlons has grown by 21% according to the survey results for 2011-2013
    • "In 'The Event Fundraising Monitor' report we highlight a new opportunity for fundraisers with the emergence of MOB (Mud, obstacle, beer) events, a new type of event that's experiencing explosive growth globally and features hyper social activities, such as mud runs, obstacle courses, and adventure races," commented Sejal Pietrzak, Senior Vice President at ACTIVE Network. "While traditional endurance events continue to be popular, including the Prudential RideLondon which drew in more than 65,000 participants across the event weekend, we are also seeing the globalisation of events like The Electric Run and The Color Run, which present a tremendous opportunity to help philanthropic causes raise money."

      Charles Wells, Chief Marketing Officer at JustGiving adds, "The common thread among all of the events showing growth is that they each give their fundraisers unique stories to share online, generating great reasons for a participant to share his or her fundraising with their network. Not only that, but they help charities reach new supporters and drive sign-ups for future events - around 40% of our fundraisers among those surveyed tell us that since they've started fundraising, a friend or family member has got involved too."

      To download the full "The Event Fundraising Monitor" report, please visit

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    How I Got Here - Sejal Pietrzak

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    Sejal Pietrzak is senior vice president international at technology and media company Active Network. She talked to Event about launching the company's London office, her experience of working at an ice cream store, and how she would like more time to mentor women in events.

    What do you do and how long have you been in your current role?
    As the senior vice-president for international at Active Network, I am responsible for the expansion, growth and strategic direction of our company’s business outside of North America. I started our international division back in 2007 and have been managing Active's overseas operations since then.

    Where was your first job?
    My first job was with the US Chamber of Commerce’s international division in Washington, DC. It was a great experience that enabled me to work with multinational corporations and gave me the opportunity to manage events and conferences designed to foster relationships among companies, government leaders, and industry experts in the USA and South Asia. The events aspect of my first job gave me a special appreciation for the complex work of event planners and conference organisers.

    What was the most important thing you learnt there?
    I learnt a great deal about working with other cultures and the challenges facing American companies as they expand overseas. But probably the most important lessons I gained were about how to execute efficiently, get things done, multi-task and prioritise.

    How did you get from there to where you are now?
    After working at the US Chamber, I earned my MBA from Wharton and then moved into strategy consulting at the Boston Consulting Group. From there I worked in banking for a few years. But, I longed for an entrepreneurial role where I could help grow a business again. Active Network presented me with the perfect opportunity to manage a fast-paced, growing business, that offered event organisers excellent technology to help them manage successful events from triathlon races to conferences. Nine years later, I continue to love what we’re building at Active.

    Looking back, did you expect your career path to take the course it has?
    I feel incredibly blessed that my career has taken the path it has – I don’t think anyone can predict what their career path will look like when they are starting out. I feel as if each step in my career has led me to where I am today. The move to Active was a perfect fit and gave me the opportunity to combine my university education in international studies and Masters in business with my experiences in event management, business leadership and corporate strategy.

    What has been a highlight of your career?
    A recent highlight for me was launching Active Network’s new London office this past summer at One Euston Square and announcing that we had surpassed an important milestone of supporting more than 25,000 events in the UK and EMEA over the past five years. I started Active's business in the UK back in 2008 with just four full-time employees in a tiny office in Hammersmith. And now we have over 50 full-time staff in our London office dedicated to supporting all types of events. Our success is a result of Active's team, who offer great service for event organisers, along with Active's strong technology.

    What would you have done differently?
    I am often asked to be a mentor of women shaping their careers and to speak at events about what I did to become a successful woman in the competitive and male-dominated technology industry. I enjoy these opportunities and believe that giving back is a critical aspect to being successful not only in one’s career, but also in one’s life. If I could do something differently, I would dedicate more of my time to mentoring and coaching women, imparting my knowledge, and sharing lessons learned from over 20 years of working in fast-paced, global businesses.

    Who has inspired you along the way?
    I have been lucky to have had two incredible women mentors who taught me to always be confident, ensured I knew that it is possible to have a family and a rewarding career, and gave me guidance and advice at the times when I needed them most. I’ve also been inspired by my team at Active who show passion and commitment everyday – their optimism and their ‘we can do it’ attitude inspire me to work even harder each day.

    Have you ever had a job interview that went particularly well or spectacularly wrong?
    When I was a teenager, I applied for a summer job at an ice cream store in my town. However, it didn’t look like I was going to be hired as I had no prior work experience. I tried to convince the manager that I was hard working, a fast-learner, and could scoop with the best of them. As I was interviewing, the store received an unexpected bus-load of hungry children, and I offered to help. I washed my hands, put on the apron and hat, and off I went to take orders and scoop ice cream onto cones and into cups. About 15 minutes later, as we were rushing around to fulfill orders, the manager said loudly to me over the noise of the kids; "You’re hired!". It was a fun summer at that ice cream store.

    Is there a piece of career advice you’ve ever been told that has stuck with you?
    The best career advice I ever received was focus on your customers and your team, and everything else will fall into place. If you think about it, focusing on those two stakeholders – our customers and our team - are all that matter in building, growing and leading a successful business.

    What career advice would you give to your 21-year-old self?
    Enjoy the day. We should look to the future and learn from the past, but it’s so important to just enjoy the moment. Even now, enjoying the day is something I constantly remind myself to do.

    How do you wind down and relax after a hectic day?
    Spending time with my husband and two children (ages seven and nine) is the best relaxation – we often play family games like Monopoly and Scrabble together, we ride our bikes in our neighborhood, and we often go to the beach - we love living in San Diego! Going out for a run always helps me release tension, and I often come up with new ideas when I’m running. When I have time, I love to cook, try new restaurants, and have dinner parties with friends.

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    UK Study Exhibits Value for the Meetings and Events Industry
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    The recent UK Economic Impact Study released by MPI UK/Ireland presents an interesting and comprehensive assessment of the impact of the meetings and events industry on the British economy.

    Here are some of the highlights that I would like to share with you:

    • The UK meetings industry delivers £58.4bn to the UK’s gross domestic product (GDP) making an economic contribution 3x greater than agriculture
    • Meetings total gross value added contribution (GVA) of £20.6bn is more than legal services, accountancy or broadcasting
    • Attendees spent just under £40bn attending UK meetings alone
    • Meetings industry is the 16th largest employer with more than 515,000 individual directly employed, double that of the telecoms industry
    • More than 1.3m meetings were held in the UK in 2011 in over 10,000 venues
    • The meetings industry contributed £21.1bn in tax revenue to the UK government

    With an industry this valuable we need to start taking ourselves just a bit more seriously. Certification, measurement and spend control are three areas that need to be addressed by organisations that run events.

    First, are your teams properly trained in this discipline? If not, why aren’t they? Would you employ a lawyer or accountant without the appropriate qualifications? For details on certification check out the industry trade association or, if you operate outside the UK, visit

    The second aspect associated with meetings that needs to be addressed is measurement. For example, do you know how many events your organisation is currently running? What are those events about? Most importantly, why you are doing them? If you are not asking these questions of your organisation’s meetings, talk to us at ACTIVE Network. Our event technology can assist you in measuring, reporting and analysing your meetings and events portfolio so you can make better, more informed decisions.

    Finally, companies need to start taking their meeting spend more seriously. If I were a CEO – with figures like this being a proven factor – I would certainly want to start looking at this area of spend and understanding it a little more. With ACTIVE StarCite you can track your spend with vendors and find significant savings, and efficiencies.

    It’s time for event professionals to sit up and command our seat at the executive table. The way to do this is by intelligently using the right data. I’m curious to know what data insight would change the way you do business today. Feel free to post a comment below.

    The full research report is available to download from

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    Running Symposium – Mapping the Course of Endurance

    At the Running Symposium – Mapping the Course of Endurance, that took place in London on the 19th April, event organisers and other running professionals from around the globe got together to discuss the latest trends affecting the industry.

    An open discussion led by Keith Williams (Senior Manager, Emerging Markets EMEA) and Sam Renouf (VP, Emerging Markets & GM, APAC) covered 3 main areas:
    • The effect of mobile usage and social media.
    • The surge in adventure and MOB TM /adventure racing.
    • How altering pricing strategies can be beneficial for running events.

    Amongst the topics of discussion one key conclusion came out - event organisers must stop and think before putting on their next event! Organisers should not just switch the event live and react on a daily/monthly basis. Instead, they should plan in advance for the audience's reaction. Optimising demand generation can be leveraged through channels' event organisers already have at their disposal.

    Sam Renouf commented on ACTIVE Network’s data gathered over recent years, saying that those participants who register from a social media network and from a mobile device have risen significantly in the past couple of years. So much that predicts the number of participants registering to events from their mobile device will surpass desktop by early 2014. By mobilising event sites, organisers can improve participant's usability and convenience.

    To help understand how social media interactions actually translate into offline actions ACTIVE revealed the results of a research conducted to 500 consumers that demystifies what exactly happens "beyond the click”. Follow this link to access the results Infographic-

    Symposium participants also discussed the accelerated growth of adventure racing, or the so called mud and obstacle races (MOB TM) and how they are likely to influence traditional running events. “Over 80% participate in a MOB with at least 1 friend and 29% of them heard about the event through social media as seen from a 2012 survey1. Considering this, event organisers should consider this social athlete when strategising their race planning.” said Keith Williams.

    Running Symposium participants concluded that event directors need to utilise better strategic event planning when considering pricing. Setting up 4-5 pricing tiers through the event's registration page can help drive demand, while early event sell-out will not only improve relations with the event but also allow charities involved, with an extended window to fulfil their entries. Endurance event organisers can grow their revenue by around 18% by making a shift in their pricing strategy, according to ACTIVE Network’s client case studies presented at the Running Symposium.

    With these channels and trends still being recent to the market, it is down to the proactive event organiser to take advantage from these trends and combine them into their strategic fit. The symposium proved to be a big success, with great feedback received from delegates who considered it “a very useful initiative, which provided valuable information, relevant to the industry”. If you are an endurance event organiser of any race type and would like to attend one of ACTIVE’s future Endurance Symposiums, you can request to be included in our invitation list here.

    1 ACTIVE Network survey to 1000 ACTIVE Lifestyle participants. Profile of a MOBTM-Ster. The ACTIVE Network (August 2012)

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    Fireside Chat with London Marathon Race Director, Hugh Brasher on RideLondon Buzz

    Just as excitement around the 2012 Summer Olympics hit a high note, London Mayor Boris Johnson announced the launch of one of the largest cycling events in the world – RideLondon.

    Managed in part by London Marathon, RideLondon will be a two day festival of cycling held all over London, featuring a series of events for amateur, club, world elite cyclists, youth and hand cyclists.

    The event will take place on the weekend of 3rd August 2013.

    We sat down with our customer, London Marathon Race Director, Hugh Brasher, to talk about how the event registration is going so far.


    What has the reaction been to the RideLondon event in London? Recently, you announced that 25,000 people registered in 5 weeks! Were you surprised by this?
    I was absolutely ecstatic at the initial reaction to the event! So far, there has been a surge in women registering for the 100 mile cycling event. We’re actively working to encourage even more women to participate! I am also surprised that 92% of the entrants cycle twice a week or more and yet 63% haven’t done a cyclo sportive, so the registration shows we are inspiring people to enter an event (RideLondon 100) that they have never attempted before.

    Why did you choose to work with ACTIVE Network?
    We chose to work with ACTIVE because of its breadth and experience, as well as the commitment they demonstrated to our organization. The ACTIVE team had the RideLondon website up and running under an incredibly tight deadline. The commitment to meet deadlines and the team’s proven ability to do that was what really swung it for us. The ACTIVE team put in lots of late nights and hard work and we are ecstatic with the results we’ve seen so far.

    I hear you’ve run the London Marathon four times, the New York Marathon three times, and already worked on 29 London Marathons. Wow! What is it about running that you love so much?
    Yes, but unfortunately, I think my marathon running days are in the past. I ran the London Marathon in 1982, 1983, 1984 and 2003 and the New York Marathon six or seven years in a row. I used to run 70 miles a week! I really enjoyed the competitive element of running. Everyone has their own goals, whether it be running a 5k for the first time or running a marathon. Running is also accessible and relatively easy to do…..just lace up your running shoes and get outside. I see similarities in the sport of cycling.

    Why are you excited about RideLondon? What will it do for the city of London and the sport of cycling?
    I am so excited to have a festival of cycling in London – the greatest city in the world (in my opinion). As the first Olympic legacy event, I hope that it will inspire people to take part in sports and activity, and change their lives!

    What was your favorite sport at the Olympics this summer? Why?
    The 5,000 meters gold medal victory by Mo Farah was absolutely stunning. He proved to the world that he is the best distance runner. Despite the pressure, he not only won the 10,000 meters, he also brought home the 5,000. It was inspiring to watch.

    Thanks for taking the time to speak with us, Hugh! So what are you waiting for…sign up for the RideLondon event today!

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    Trends in the Charity and Sports Events Markets

    Yesterday morning, at London’s Commonwealth Club, we saw the insight and thought leadership driving the recently announced partnership of ACTIVE Network and Just Giving. An audience of 93 leading organisations heard from both companies and industry leaders before they had their say.

    Co-host Keith Williams, Head of Biz Dev for ACTIVE Network, revealed new data showing the endurance sports market (running, cycling, and triathlon) in the UK has seen a 23% growth in the number of events organised since 2008. Cycling and triathlon have shown the sharpest increase, buoyed by on-going success of British Cycling and the publicised achievements of the Olympian Brownlee Brothers. This increase in the number of events contrasts markedly with ACTIVE’s insight into event participation – which has seen just a 1% increase in those four years. There are more people participating but they are being more choosy, meaning competition is intense and on the increase.

    ACTIVE Network and JustGiving shared their expectations for the considerable growth of mobile as people’s primary device for accessing the internet. If your participants and fundraisers can’t find, register and activate their fundraising via their mobile phone they probably won’t [1].

    Use of Social Media influence in the endurance and fundraising events market was spotlighted at the event with JustGiving, revealing that each individual fundraising page that is shared on Facebook is seen by an average of 562 people [3]. ACTIVE Network published research that revealed Facebook has driven 300% more ROI to event organisers than email communications [4].

    Through insight and case studies courtesy of Jo Dyson and Graham Tyrell (Maggies Cancer Care Centres) and Mike Tomlinson (Run for All), the hosts illustrated the importance of engagement with the consumer, putting them at the centre of your organisation. The use of video, social media, mobile optimisation, and accessible intelligence and understanding around your community are areas that give significant return on investment.

    “Making Every Step Count” also allowed an opportunity for endurance event organisers and charities to network, share ideas and create new business relations. The benefits for event organisers, corporates and charities teaming up and forging stronger relationships were highlighted by Jenny Baskerville from KPMG who partnered Barnardos on the Big Blue Kick, and by Mike Tomlinson and the story behind Run for All.

    Find out more about ACTIVE Network & JustGiving partnership here

    [1] Based on past and current analysis of Google analytics and ACTIVE Network data over a period of 12 months.

    [2] JustGiving analysed internal data for over 300,000 fundraising pages, with additional data from Google Analytics and Facebook Insights. In total, each individual fundraising campaign has an average of 562 impressions on Facebook, through fundraisers and sponsors sharing information about the event

    [3] Data verified based on the analytics of ACTIVE Network client endurance events based on the referral links from registrants over a period of 4 months in 2011.

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