5 Aug 2013

Running a rider survey on an event

What I wanted from a survey?

I want to run the best possible event for the money I charge, so an important part of my event organiser's role is to get feedback. Due to the nature of the event, the Rutland Weekend 300 on 6th July, which offered riders the option of handing me the completed brevet card in a pub for part of an evening, or posting it in with a the supplied SAE, I knew I would only meet some of the finishers at the end. So, rather than quiz people as they relaxed post-ride, I thought, inspired by the results of fellow Willesdener Paul Stewart's survey after his Ditchling Devil event, I would offer a survey.

Most of the questions could apply to any audax event, but I had a couple that were specific to the route and as the ride was billed as a pre-LEL run-out, whether riders were doing LEL or not. I decided not to use an online option like Survey Monkey as it would get far fewer answers. Before I designed the questionnaire, I set three constraints: it must fit on a piece of A5 paper so it can sent in along with the completed brevet card, it must need no more than 1-2 minutes to complete and it must offer an option for comments. The questions were divided into the journey to the event, the journey on the event, scoring the event and any comments. It was clearly made optional for riders to fill in their name.
I did my best to maintain anonymity, piling the responses togther until I was sure that I had all the brevet cards back and then collating the results.

The results

I received 34 responses, which is over two thirds of the starters. They were very positive, 33 would recommend the ride to others and nobody said they would not recommend it.
  • 70% were entering LEL
  • The AUK site and YACF were where all but 2 riders heard about the event
  • Ride location and distance were the two most important deciders on whether to do the event
  • Half the riders arrived by car and the rest split evenly between train (the event starts from Baldock Station forecourt) and arriving on the bike
  • I got my answers on the route options - most people followed the standard route.

I asked people to rank features from 1 to 5, and got the following averages, where 5 is 100%
Entry process 4.9
Ease of getting to the start 4.8
Roads used on route (surfacing, traffic levels etc) 4.6
Landscape 4.6
Food / drink options 3.9
Routesheet 4.6
GPS tracks 4.5
Ride notes 4.7
The first response is an emphatic vote for how easy the AUK online entry process is and I passed this on to the AUK board. The food/drink options (all commercial controls) were the weakest point and I have food for thought on how to do that better next time.

As for the comments, apart from thanks and the revelation of how nice the patch of England the Rutland Weekend uses is to cycle for people who have never done it before, there was no common theme: some information given out could be clarified and someone suggested a minor route tweak which I will look at for the next Weekend (probably a few weeks before PBP).
All the starters (whether or not they had responded) were emailed a copy of my full report.

Was it worth it?

Yes. It answered my route-specific questions, it confirmed what I already suspected about en-route food and drink and it showed my what I need to tweak next time. The fact that most entrants were doing LEL indicated that to get a decent sized field I should run it just in PBP and LEL years. The comments also gave some great quotes I can use to advertise the event next time.
I won't impose this on every event, but for a newish event it's worth it, and because I could not get face-to-face comments from everyone, it's a chance for them to have their say.
For my next survey I will have a question about AUK membership and I will try to improve the anonymity.

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