Think about your event and where you are interested in getting feedback. These must be things that you are open to and willing to change. If you love your course and have zero interest in changing it, do not open that can of worms with your participants. You must also be sure to ask about things you have the control to change. A car accident, a fire, or some other act of nature that disrupted your event is not fodder for your survey.
The way you ask questions is also very important. Keep the questions simple and straightforward. Avoid using any industry terms or jargon. Use words that your entire audience will understand exactly what you mean. Also, make sure the questions are close-ended and can be answered in a simple yes/no response or on a ratings scale. If you do use a rating scale, be sure to have it set-up with as much room for negative responses as positive ones. Utilizing a scale going from one to five can be effective in most cases. If you do deploy a ratings scale, be sure to use the same scale for all relevant questions throughout the entire survey. Give your respondents an out as well. That could be as simple as an option saying something is "not applicable", "don't know", or "prefer not to answer". That is a better response in some cases than forcing them to choose something that does not apply and skews your data.
As you start to develop the questions, be sure and keep your survey brief and focused. You have a narrow window of time that people will stay on task and complete a survey. Think about the ones you have taken yourself. If they get too long, complicated, or weave all over the map, you probably bailed out on it and got back to watching talking dog videos on YouTube. Stay focused and to the point.
Having a logical flow to your post-race survey is another important consideration. For a race, it could be as easy as asking questions that follow the map of their engagement with your event, from the time they signed-up to the time they crossed the finish line and collected their swag. It should be easy for them to move from one question to the next if questions correspond to the sequence of events they experienced.
For some surveys, offering an incentive of some kind is essential. The jury is out if this is a good strategy for running events. If you offer a discounted registration for next year, you run the risk of not getting feedback from those people who did not have a good experience and are not planning on coming back. These are some of the people you most want to hear from, so an incentive may actually discourage these folks from participating. If you promise not to waste people's time and develop your survey using the strategies outlined in this article, you should get a solid mix of responses without an incentive.
The timing of when to send out your post-race survey is key. Industry numbers suggest that 24-72 hours after an event is the ideal window of time. The respondents' experience is fresh in their mind. Mondays also seem to be the best day to have your participants receive the survey. This should be ideal for most races since most events like these take place over the weekend, and a Monday delivery is well within the 72-hour time frame. Using our built-in email marketing functionality makes it a breeze to quickly send your survey to all of your participants.
Many people do not do this, but be sure and share the key results of your survey and the actions you are taking as a direct result of their feedback. That will demonstrate to your customers that you are listening, and that they will not want to miss the bigger and better version of your event next year. If there are some ideas a large number of people are asking for, and you do not act on them or implement them, be sure to explain that as well. Now you have created more of a two-way communication with your participants, and they in turn will feel more invested in your event.
Hopefully these tips will help you get the feedback you need to keep creating continuous improvement for your events. Keep your eyes peeled for our survey soon. We promise not to waste your time and we will take your feedback to heart. Like you, at RaceDirector we are always trying to create the best experience for our customers.