By Julie Kelly
SAN DIEGO, CA (BRAIN) — The three-day Triathlon Business International Conference, which concluded Tuesday, underscored the organization’s focus on the growth of commerce surrounding the sport. Attendance dipped about 8 percent compared with the previous year, with about 210 participants, but reflected a healthy cross section of retailers, event organizers, suppliers, media and athletes.
At the third annual event, held at the Rancho Bernardo Inn, panelists and presenters discussed a wide range of topics including non-endemic sponsorship, TV viewership, event insurance, water safety, social media, doping controls and prospecting new customers
“I think we’ve really hit our stride,” said Jack Caress, president and CEO of Triathlon Business International, referring to the breadth of conference offerings, as well as the appointment of the organization’s first full-time general manager, Nicole Luque.
Speakers hailed from throughout the multi-sport industry. Professional triathletes Andy Potts and Michellie Jones joined Cervélo CEO Phil White, USA Triathlon CEO Rob Urbach, Revolution3 Triathlon owner Charlie Patten, among others.
Cervélo’s White shared his company’s history, crediting the sport of triathlon and the “constant evolution of great ideas” that it fostered. Reviewing triathlon trends, demographics and purchasing statistics, he said, “Triathlon is the new golf. If you are not already involved as a business, you want to be involved.”
Other panelists echoed White’s viewpoints. “If you’re a dealer out there, and you don’t know that triathlon can be important to you, you’re just not alive,” said American Bicycle Group CEO Peter Hurley, speaking on the topic of prospecting new customers.
One of triathlon’s biggest market opportunities lies in women ages 30 to 50, said Elysa Walk, general manager of Giant Bicycle, citing social connectivity, buying power, independence and increased athleticism in this demographic. “We need to get more women into triathlon, because they pull each other in,” she said.
Meanwhile, USA Triathlon numbers back up a continuing growth trend in the multi-sport market. Adult membership ranked at an all-time high of 113,579 in 2012, up 9.4 percent from 2011, and its total membership was up 12 percent, said USAT’s Ron Urbach.
Urbach outlined several initiatives to continue to boost participation in triathlons and grow USAT's membership, including a Splash & Dash Series for kids; a Retro Series for older athletes; a Super Sprint Series for elite athletes; a Century Club recognition program for participants and race directors; the creation of its own charitable foundation; compilation of a searchable results database; and programs to build diversity within the race association’s membership.