Here at Playwaze, innovation is at the core of what we do. With Playwaze 360, we are empowering organisations to more effectively promote and grow participation in sport and activity.
The digital barrier to activity
The internet is really good at combining things and then making those things really quick and easy to access. It allows us, in just a few clicks on Amazon, to buy a new watch, some weedkiller, and a boomerang. Before the internet, this shopping trip would have involved considerable time and effort, even assuming you could work out where to buy a curved, self returning, hunting stick. Digital platforms that democratise and combine content for consumers now drive huge demand in a diverse range of markets – travel, takeaway food, taxis, insurance, holiday rentals, and many more.
One of the markets conspicuously absent from this progress is sport and activity. This makes it hard for people to find local opportunities to get active. Sure, you’ll probably find your local tennis club or leisure centre online, but there’s a great deal more you won’t find, and there’s really no way to discover something completely new to do. There are around 650,000 providers of sport and activity in the UK. They deliver a vast range of activities and there really is something out there for everyone. Unfortunately, most people will never know about many of them. Over 60% of people in the UK say it’s hard to find sport and activity online, with 20% of people citing this barrier as the main reason they remain inactive. There are so many opportunities to get active out there and clearly a very large number of people are struggling to find them. Is one of the most significant barriers to increasing activity levels the lack of digital access to opportunities for getting active? At Playwaze, we think it is.
The progress so far
So where are we with progress on removing this digital barrier? It is moving but we are not there yet. Because the sports and activity sector does not yet have its own version of AirBnB or Booking.com, it has a lot of club and activity finders. These are often “home grown”, manually populated with static content and made available on sports and activity organisation websites. We also have the evolution of OpenActive – the open data project for activity opportunities, sponsored by Sport England and steered through the Open Data Institute. This is a great initiative to get activity opportunity data open and enable companies, such as Playwaze, to innovate solutions in bringing it together and making it available to people looking for ways to get active. Playwaze has been actively involved in the evolution of OpenActive with positions on its steering committee and significant investment in its technology. We believe in OpenActive and the opportunities it can bring to breaking down that digital barrier and getting people more active.
The Playwaze platform allows activity providers to seamlessly publish to OpenActive – simply create an activity on Playwaze and it can instantly be published to any website or app that publishes OpenActive opportunities. We have also been providing activity finders to a range of customers over the last three years. They can be embedded on a customer’s website and provide a place where people can search OpenActive opportunity content. Despite these steps in the right direction, the sport and activity sector has generally found the results of OpenActive solutions somewhat mixed. The opportunity content being published was patchy in terms of volume, diversity and quality – finders themselves were difficult to find (ironically), and the end user experience was generally disengaging.
So what are some of the challenges that remain?
1 – There is limited diversity in opportunity content. Many of the UK’s leisure groups have adopted OpenActive, whilst most smaller providers have not. This skews the OpenActive experience to people wanting to book an exercise class in a leisure centre, whilst overlooking much of the vast range of other opportunities to get active.
2 – The density of opportunity content is geographically patchy. Some regions of the UK have almost no OpenActive data available. For OpenActive to really work in engaging people it needs a density of opportunity content reaching all areas.
3 – There is a strong focus on sessions and classes only. Many people looking to get active may want to find a place to exercise, a local club, or a personal trainer.
4 – Activity finders often fail to effectively reach large audiences.
5 – Activity finders can be basic, display limited content, and ultimately don’t engage visitors well.
Playwaze 360: Removing the barriers
Playwaze 360 is our next generation solution designed to address these issues. It’s a single platform providing all the tools required to more effectively connect more people with more ways to get active. It includes:
1 – A next generation activity portal that embeds and integrates seamlessly with all websites
2 – Tools for onboarding, publishing, and promoting a broad range of opportunities.
3 – Sharing features for reaching larger audiences.
4 – Tools for managing and promoting campaigns like This Girl Can, We are Undefeatable, and This Mum Moves.
5 – OpenActive services offering full control over the opportunities you promote.
6 – A comprehensive Analytics dashboard for better understanding who’s searching for what, where, and when.
Playwaze 360 gives organisations the tools to deliver rich and engaging experiences in finding ways to get active with better opportunity content, better reach, and better insight. Our new platform is already rolling out to organisations. We’re all on a shared mission to simply get more people more active, and we really feel that with Playwaze 360, we have a real opportunity to remove the digital barriers for people finding ways to get active, in the same way that Amazon removed the barriers to people buying boomerangs!
If you would like to find out more about Playwaze 360 and how we can support your organisation in getting more people more active, just click here to get a call scheduled with a member of our team.