There’s been plenty of conversation on Facebook recently about official registration and “bandits.” I’m not looking to have the “why you should register” or “why bandits are bad” conversation here. Full disclosure: I used to be a bandit. I’ve learned the error of my ways. I register now, and encourage others to do the same. That said, I have some understanding of the “bandit” mindset, and I have questions/recommendations.
1) If RAGBRAI wants to encourage riders to register, and we know that we typically have 20-30k riders on the road most days (many of which are bandits), why limit weeklong registration to 10k people? My guess is that it’s more of a marketing tactic, to give it a sense of urgency & exclusivity. However, if someone misses the cut-off but wants to ride…they’re still going to ride. Why freeze them out if they want to register, and why turn away that money? I think limiting the number of registered riders may do more harm than good, as it gives people the impression that they don’t *actually* expect everyone to register and brings in less funds to RAGBRAI.
2) The people who are likely to “bandit” are those who are part of a team. Many teams offer transportation of bags/totes, so why not offer a lower-rate registration option for those who want to support RAGBRAI and take advantage of the myriad of services outside of the baggage transportation? It would be easy to manage, as they would get a bag tag if they selected that level, and their bags wouldn’t be loaded without the tag.
Right or wrong, “what’s in it for me” is human nature. “Do the right thing” often isn’t enough persuasion, and they don’t see the personal value in the $200 expense. The risk and reward are not high enough for bandits who feel like they would have the same experience either way. Last year I believe there were a couple of evening entertainment venues where bandits had to pay $5 to enter. They either paid or walked away, but I don’t think it changed the likelihood that they would register next year. RAGBRAI needs to come up with creative new ways to engage these riders, many of whom have been riding for many years, have always “gotten away with it,” and are resistant to change.
Again, this isn’t intended to be a “should you or shouldn’t you register” conversation/debate. It’s a “how can we better motivate people to register instead of shaming them into it” conversation. Any other ideas?