The Association of Iris Racecourses (AIR) stays up to date with all issues affecting its membership.
As the country is in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis, racecourses are under more pressure than ever to maintain their attendance figures and sponsorship agreements, all the while endeavouring to recruit new racegoers to their tracks.
On Tuesday, Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) hosted an online marketing forum for racecourse personnel. It covered the latest insights into consumer spending and behaviours, and the various trends to be aware of when planning racecourse marketing activities over the coming months. There were quite a few discussion items of note.
Consumer discretionary spending is down, and is predicted to remain so over the coming months. In the 18 to 35-year-old category there seems to be a little more positivity, and this is a group being targeted with national campaigns like ‘A Proper Day Out’.
Forum participants wondered what individual racecourses ought to do, and here is a selection of points for consideration.
Opening fewer facilities on quieter racedays, particularly at bigger tracks, to encourage crowds to gather in certain areas, thus creating a greater atmosphere and raceday experience. For example, rather than having 40 patrons in each of five bars and restaurants spread out across the entire site, perhaps racecourses might consider having those 200
split across two or three facilities, creating a more atmospheric day for racegoers. This would also offer benefits to the environment, and reduce costs.
Covered areas between stands offering shelter and comfortable seating areas to customers in all weathers was also proposed where suitable.
The age at which children can attend race meetings free when accompanied by an adult varies from track to track, with under 14 and under 16 proving most popular. Universal agreement on this age at all racecourses was proposed. This would allow the industry to market racing both individually and collectively with one clear message, and allow for more generic marketing of family days.
Another interesting concept mooted was the notion of all racecourses offering a ‘real deal’. Punters are looking for value-added offerings where the price point is below the perceived cost. They are deal savvy and happy to sift through the options to find the best fit for their requirements and budgets. With many tracks offering their own version of a ‘punters pack’, ‘party pack’ and ‘all in’ deals, this concept got quite a lot of attention.
It was proposed that the price point and contents of a ‘real deal’ offering would be up to each track, and did not need to be universal for this to work. However, it must be their best value offering, so that it can be marketed as such and be easily identifiable by its universal name.
For example, ‘The Tramore Real Deal’ or the ‘The Downpatrick Real Deal’ should signal to the cost savvy online consumer that this is the number one choice for them. One would assume that while this would prove to be very popular, similar to the wine menu parallel where many chose the bottle just above the house wine.
As many of these concepts need to be discussed at racecourse management and board level, a follow up survey will be issued in the coming days. It was also announced that on Tuesday, January 10th, HRI will host its annual marketing conference for racecourses at the Killashee House Hotel, with a full itinerary to follow.
By Leo Powell