Increase Participation with Technology

By Josh Bowers

Remember your last first date? Waiting for your date to arrive, sitting in a restaurant or in front of a movie theater—or more likely, at a trail head. The butterflies in your stomach, the hopes for this date, the chance that it could lead to another and then to a meaningful relationship. This experience is identical to someone trying out a new sport, a new store or a new brand. Outside the realm of romance, research conducted at Texas A&M by Denise Parris (co–founder of Pavilion Adventures) demonstrates that getting people involved in a community requires participation in both formal and informal events in order to create shared memories. Just as that first date was preceded by a casual run–in at a party, on a run or on the water, people have to have low–risk opportunities to explore and decide what they are interested in—but to in order to cultivate a real relationship, you’re going to have to actually ask them out.

As retailers, does this mean you need to turn your shop into a speed dating club? No—but that could help drive foot traffic. Pavilion Adventures was launched in December 2015 to apply technology to the age–old question,What’s happening this weekend?” Since then, we have helped people discover over 50,000 outdoor sports events. What makes Pavilion unique is everything you see on the site is an event you can join, from social hikes, paddles and after–work runs, to professionally organized tours, races and classes for over 20 sports across the United States. Pavilion Adventures is the most comprehensive source for outdoor recreation. Our goal is to get more people outside, so we have built additional tools to help people find the best events for their personal needs; it’s easy to refine a search by kid–friendly events, women’s–only events, beginner–friendly events and competitions.

We’ve learned that technology can truly help you develop and deepen your relationship with your customers. Pavilion Adventures builds tools for retailers and manufacturers like you to connect with your customers’ weekend plans so that you can make sure they’re prepared with the right gear.

Finding all of this cool stuff to do can only be done with technology and the combined expertise of the team behind Pavilion, which includes a past US Olympic team member with expertise in advanced analysis and an avid sailor turned data–scientist. Pavilion’s technology automatically collects event information posted online daily. Our focus on events comes from insight gained during over 1,000 interviews with campers, college students, competitors at paddleboard and obstacle race participants. People want dawn patrol surfs, sunset bonfires, epic river trips, fun coastal runs, fishing missions, finish line finales, and weeks filled with daily escape—but they don’t want to do it alone.

If you want to get more people participating and in your store, you are going to have to ask them out. But don’t jump the gun and go straight to the sale; instead, leverage the thousands of events happening around you. Invite them on a Wednesday afternoon hike or a Monday morning run. Invite them to paddle at a local race. Leverage the informal and formal opportunities for them to get outside; be a facilitator, a coach, an information source.

Technology is also the means to convert your customers’ participation into foot traffic and sales. Pavilion provides the tools to capture your customers’ sport interests and automatically keep them up–to–date with all of the events happening within their driving range. This information provides you with the insight you need to target the right gear to the right customer at the time when they are most likely to buy: on the eve of an event. This in turn deepens your relationship with the customer by improving their time outside and making sure they are getting the most out of their purchase.

You may feel technology is comparable to the toddler that grew too fast and can climb out of the crib and run amuck in the living room with a box of crayons. In retail, it has become ubiquitous with sales, special offers, loyalty programs, click this, scan that, stamp this card, all seemingly adding more work and reducing the effectiveness. In truth, technology enables you to remove the challenges people have to participating, getting outside and having fun. Save them time, their most valued asset, by making it easier to go play. This will build your relationship and increase your sales per customer. 

Up until now, retailers have had little ability to guide, direct or engage in a two–way conversation with online traffic. But Pavilion offers the tools and content to engage your customers based on their interests and skill levels so that you can tailor their experience to bring them into the store or make the right online purchase. This is increasingly important as you look to appeal to millennial shoppers who expect a virtual two–way dialog. Consumers anticipate that if they act, the retailer will react in a manner that is accurate and personally tailored to their desires. Like dating, we only stay in the relationships that add value. Technology provides opportunities to solve a problem for both a customer and a business and cultivates an ongoing connection between you and your customer, making them more receptive to building a relationship with you—or recommending a friend for that blind date.

Contact Josh at for more information on incorporating the technology of Pavilion into your business.

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