By Paul Ricci – CAAM Events
The cycling event world is much different than what it was just a few weeks ago, when events were happening according to plan and everything was normal. Fast forward to today and almost all of the cycling events coming up in the next few weeks or months are either being canceled or postponed to a new date later in the year.
The first question that many of the registrants ask is “when will I receive my refund?” It’s a normal response since there’s a trade that wasn’t completed…they paid a registration fee in exchange for an event experience.
The problem is that many of the upcoming event’s cannot happen due to the current COVID-19 Coronavirus situation. It’s no one’s fault. It’s just how it is right now. Safety first. There will be plenty of other times to attend events once things settle down.
So here’s the tough part. Refund or no refund?
To answer this question properly, let’s dig a little deeper and look at a few things that are rarely looked at from a participant’s view.
The First Thing to Consider
The first thing to consider is that a very large majority of these events raise money for charities. We ride and we make an impact at the same time. It’s a win-win for everyone.
Many events began with a person or a few people, a cycling club or an organization with a dream or desire to support a charity or cause that means or meant something to them. If they do a good job producing the event, it will get bigger each year and more money will be donated to the charity or cause.
The events contribute to charities and causes that range from supporting children with terminal illnesses, at-risk children or families, juvenile diabetes, animals and humane societies, disease research, cancer, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, cystic fibrosis, wounded veterans, veterans with PTSD, environmental support, cycling advocacy, low income families are provided meals, products or services, and many more important charities of all different shapes and sizes.
We’re lucky. We have a lot of cycling events to chose from. In some cases, we choose to attend an event because it looks like a good event and our friends are going. Other times, it’s a chance to ride in a new area and make it weekend adventure. In some cases, we ride to support a specific cause or charity. There are a lot of reasons why we participate in events, including accomplishing a distance goal or just to ride and meet new people and checkout different parts of the state or country. There are a lot of reasons and they are all good!
The great thing about the sport that we love is that it’s more than just a bunch of people riding bikes together at an event. It’s about making a difference. It’s about helping those that need our help. It’s important to us and it’s important to many others that depend on the donations.
The Second Thing to Consider
The second thing to consider is that the event directors do not want to cancel the event. Cancelling the event is the very last thing that they want to do. They have invested a lot of time and effort to produce the event and want it to happen as much as you want to participate in it.
The event production team typically spends about six months or more working on the details to produce an event. They are usually unpaid volunteers that take time away from their families and jobs to produce the event. They want the event to happen and they want you to have a great time participating.
The Third Thing to Consider
The third thing to consider is that money has already been spent to produce the event, whether it happens or not.
There are a lot of flat fee expenses that are incurred, regardless of the number of people that register, such as venue rental fees, police support, permits, mobile SAG support, marketing fees, portable toilets, equipment rental, truck rentals, entertainment, route marking labor, etc.
Then there are the variable expenses that include post-event lunch, t-shirts, participant insurance fees, rest stop items that include water, ice, electrolytes, food, paper towels, etc, number bibs, safety pins, goodie bags, printing costs for route maps, registration processing fees (CAAM Tour Series events pay these fees for you) and other fees that are typically not seen by the participants.
All these fees and expenses have to be paid before any net funds can be donated to the charities and causes. In many cases, the registration revenue barely covers the operating expenses of producing the event, which is why sponsorships are so important. That’s usually where the net donations to the charities and causes come from. The event is just the vehicle to secure the sponsorships and donate to the charities.
In many cases, there are events that eventually disappear. The weight of the expenses to produce the event is greater than the net revenue collected. If they don’t hit the break-even number of participants, the event loses money and someone has to cover the loss. Most businesses cannot survive if they lose money and events are no different.
The Fourth Thing to Consider
The fourth thing to consider is that events actually support small businesses and employees that provide services and products for the events.
They also hire charity groups that provide volunteer hours in exchange for a donation to their charity. Many charities depend on events as a way to generate revenue and also provides an opportunity for students to earn volunteer hours. It’s a win-win for everyone.
Some examples of the small businesses are the mobile SAG support vehicles. That’s their full-time business. If they aren’t hired, they don’t generate income for them and their families. T-shirt printing vendors, catering companies, food trucks, equipment rental employees, off-duty police officers, event timing companies and their employees, and others.
If the event doesn’t happen, many others are affected in a negative way…they don’t earn income for themselves and their families.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is a simple ask. Please consider allowing the event to convert your registration fee to a donation.
By converting your registration fee to a donation, you are helping the charities and causes that need and depend on the donations by allowing the event to cover the expenses paid/to be paid with your registration fee and still make a donation. This helps many people that need our help. Without your registration fees, the event may actually operate at a loss and no donation would be made at all.
It also helps the small business and employees that depend on the revenue from the events to help their families.
It’s a small way for YOU to make a big difference!
Thank you for your participation in the cycling events and for all your support!