Triathletes With $100,000 Incomes Seek Cheap Hotels, Survey Says

Triathlon events draw competitors with a household income of about $100,000, most of whom seek inexpensive hotel rooms while taking part, a survey said.

While participation in the sport, which involves swimming, biking and running, draws high-earning, college-educated athletes and has grown more than six-fold in the U.S. since its debut in the 2000 Olympics, the top issue facing competitors is rising costs, according to the study released yesterday by the Active Network Inc. and Triathlon America.

“They’re willing to spend money, but they’re actually reasonably stingy,” Dave Alberga, chief executive officer of Active Network, said yesterday in an interview in San Diego. “These are not luxury travelers.”

In a survey of 1,700 U.S. triathletes, 55 percent had a household income of more than $100,000 a year, 90 percent attended college or have a post-graduate degree, 70 percent work full time and 74 percent own their own home.

Seventy-nine percent of the triathletes surveyed search for discount rooms at budget or moderate-priced hotels, while about 20 percent stay at luxury or upscale hotels while competing, said Alberga, who is attending the Triathlon America Business of Triathlon conference.

In total, triathletes spend about $1,275 annually on travel, $717 on bike equipment, $164 on wetsuits, $107 on apparel and $95 on running shoes, the survey said.

Growth Among Women

The largest participation growth in the sport is among women. In 2011, 40 percent of all triathletes were women, up from 27 percent in 2000, according to the survey.

“This report will provide additional intelligence for organizations interested in reaching this active consumer audience, as well as provide insight into how event directors can increase participation,” Jack Caress, President of Triathlon America, said yesterday at a press conference.

USA Triathlon says there were 420,000 participants in its sanctioned events last year.

When it comes to spending on swimming, biking and apparel purchases, an average of 26 percent of respondents listed price as the main factor. Cost outweighed such things as customer service and fit when buying the product, the survey revealed. For running shoes, 15 percent listed price as a concern, behind fit (20%) and brand loyalty (26%).

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