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NZTR Northern Forum: Destination Summer Racing

The opening speaker at New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing's Northern Forum at Te Rapa Racecourse, Hamilton last Thursday was Janice Hill, the Racing Board's On-course Marketing and Events Manager, and a member of the Industry Initiatives Team led by Bill Colgan.

She spoke with genuine enthusiasm about the new Destination Summer Racing program, which aimed to attract holidaying families to 23 racing events between 27 December 2005 and 6 February 2006.

The program aims to help clubs fulfil their primary role, the presentation of racing entertainment, by meeting customer needs and expectations. These include basics such as clear directions and signage, good food and clean toilets.

This is Marketing 101, and the only surprising thing about it is that New Zealand racing has taken so long to sign up for it. (In fact, it has been tried before. The Come Racing program of the early 1990s attempted similar things, but was abandoned, largely because of inadequate funding.)

Janice admitted that Destination Summer Racing faced some opposition from clubs reluctant to accept the program's requirement to charge admission fees. However, the 23 clubs who did take part were delighted with the results, and, according to the Racing Board's analyses, it was "a huge success by every measure".

It's only the beginning of the Racing Board's effort to promote racing to new and existing audiences. Regional workshops are being held to help clubs improve their event management and presentation skills, and new marketing packages will be developed for other customer groups.
The failure of anyone in the room to recognise the Destination Summer Racing logo indicates the considerable potential for racing's existing participants, including owners and breeders, to be involved in future promotions.

Investment in upgraded facilities is also going to be a critical element in promoting racing to new audiences, and puts pressure on NZTR's Strategic Venue Plan to identify those courses where expenditure will generate the best returns.

- Susan Archer