As part of British Orienteering’s initiative to retain people in the sport, they have teamed with Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) to conduct research into the key factors that influence and individual's decision to attend orienteering events. Participating clubs will use this insight to make informed decisions about how best to change to their events to increase the number of regular attendees and subsequently increase retention of participants and members.
During the Pilot Phase British Orienteering is supporting 4 clubs (Cleveland Orienteering Klub, Nottinghamshire Orienteering Club, Leicestershire Orienteering Club and Berkshire Orienteers). The research will focus mainly on local events although some regional events will be included. Local events annually account for around 80% of all competitive orienteering provision and along with regional events make up over half of all competitive orienteering runs. Just as importantly it is here that newer participants are likely to encounter the sport for the first time. The quality of experience at events is highly likely to influence an individual’s decision to become, or remain, a regular participant in the sport and possibly join a club.
As the academic partner, MMU have significant expertise in this area having conducted similar research for the sports of golf and triathlon. In order to give the 4 clubs ownership of the process they were consulted on what areas of their event delivery they wished to gain feedback on. However, to ensure impartiality, MMU created the content of the survey, based on the club’s input.
During the pilot phase, the survey will be conducted in two ways. At the events themselves, competitors will be invited to complete the survey via a hand-held tablet device. This will be followed up with a further opportunity to participate via email.
The content of the survey was tested at Cleveland Orienteering Klub's (CLOK's) Hutton Lowcross event this weekend and was well received. Out of 54 possible respondents, 39 completed surveys have been received so far.
Duncan Archer the CLOK Chairman, said: “I was very happy when Peter got in touch, offering to include some CLOK events in the survey. Manchester Met Uni put together a good survey, and participants at our event were happy to assist after their runs. I look forward to the report in due course, and better understanding how our events are viewed, what we are doing well, and what we can improve in the future.”
Peter Brooke, England Development Officer, said: “It was really good working with CLOK to launch the survey. The club and those attending the event got behind the initiative and the response rate was excellent. This will really help to provide valuable insight into the orienteers experience at events and how we can help clubs to deliver great experiences.”
MMU will provide an analysis of the data. The analysis will be completed separately for each club based on the responses from their events. A further summary analysis will be made available to British Orienteering which will include data from all clubs.
The England Development Officers will work with clubs to review their data analysis to identify ways in which event delivery can be changed. The officers will then support the clubs to implement the agreed changes. Once the changes have been made the survey will be repeated to determine if the changes have had an impact.