The future- and The Future is Now- of horse racing has to be with newbies to the sport – a new generation of race-goers who are both clueless and uninterested about what’s up there on the tote, studying speed maps, understanding handicaps, stats, barriers etc. All they want to do is be part of what, to them, is one big party- and why not?- and where races are won and lost and knowing how they can be part of this experience. Once they understand these rudiments of playing the game, they’ll decide whether to join and when they do, they’ll decide how to create their own systems. They don’t need tips or tipsters. They want some very simple information at their fingertips and which they can exchange with their friends and play as a “team sport”. And the bloke below has a great looking team.
Fashions on the Fields, ‘live’ bands at the track and Beautiful People attending the races are all well and good. But what if they are clueless about placing a bet? Then what? How do you guarantee repeat visits? And how does one do this without sounding like a hardcore carnival barker and being one huge turn-off to these new consumers who wish to make up their own minds and play to win?
Let’s also never forget that a “newbie” to racing can be anyone from their Twenties to their, let’s say, Fifties. Many keep banging on about racing “appealing to Generation Y” when there’s still another generation to attract- and one with the truly Big Bucks to be new horse owners.
Carnival barkers and all those tipsters and horse talk is not for them. They want the KISS Theory- Keep It Simple, Stupid and turn a deaf ear to hard yell marketing. It’s a turn off.
Yes, nice hats, beautiful looking young people all having their One Big Day Out is very easy on the eye. But like any other industry, horse racing has a business to run. And run and run and run.
Unless ALL these “newbies” understand a Six Up from a six-pack and a Quadrella from a quesadilla and other racing terms to do with winning and losing and also begin to appreciate and understand more about a sport where great athletes ride 1000 pound beasts and do their best to “steer” them the right way, all other marketing efforts are pretty useless unless this part of Marketing 101 is in place.
For ages, we have been going on about this- the need to “edutain” the future generation of race-goers- and also new horse owners- those who will, eventually, come to lead an industry currently lagging behind all other sports when it comes to glamour- and how, without this, many might come to the races, blindly place a win/place bet, lose, and then “close up shop” and never ever return. Everyone needs to feel like a winner. Winning is contagious. But HOW to win is the $64,000 question- and how does one JOIN those who are already “in the know” and LEARN how to win?
Some have tried to create apps and with many being more like saps to “edutain” these racing newbies. But an app which- again- the HKJC has taken the lead to have produced has, at least, taken a good step in producing a racing app- an edutaining app- and racing simulator which offers race-goers both new and experienced with a variety of permutations which is then in their hands- and minds- to figure out their own choices.
Below, jockey “The Zac Attack” Purton poses with this app and wonders if it can tell him when he might win- and on what- at the new up-market restaurant at Happy Valley that is The Gallery- a great new venue with good food, everything reasonably priced, a bar and a brilliant view of the races for those wanting to enjoy a sit-down dinner and take it all in.
But most interesting of all is this “thing” named I B U.
Again, as with many other things to do with what once was “The Sport Of Kings,” the Hong Kong Jockey club has taken the bull by the horns- and the horse by the reins- and worked with a New York-based technology company to create the world’s first Inter-active and multi touch screen edutainment racing board, which, for the time being, is only available at the Club’s recently revamped and re-opened lounge/club named Adrenaline.
As the Club’s theme says, “Experience A New Era In Racing” AND I B U is exactly this.
Sure, as with anything new, there are challenges ahead, the most important being the marketing of the product and the perception of the “home” of I B U in a city where supply overwhelms demand when it comes to lounges, clubs, restaurants and bars. Especially in Hong Kong where such a high price is attached to “class” and “aspiration”, we have seen way too many of these open with a bang and then sit there like a very bored white elephant- and eventually close their doors.
How Adrenaline attracts “the right crowd” on a regular basis without coming up against old fashioned turn-offs like “dress codes” and other Old School and over-zealous thinking by equally over-zealous and naïve staff unfamiliar with the 2012 club scene is something which needs to be worked out during these early days. Is the venue a Ferrari or is a Fiat- and who is driving it?
There needs some creative thinking and implementation to ensure that the venue doesn’t resemble a crowded airport lounge and where no one inter-acts with each together for a variety of reasons. There need to be some early “pre-emptive strikes” so that The Big Picture becomes clear and the “right” regulars attract similar-minded regulars who complement all the time and effort that has gone into producing this new technological breakthrough. It will happen.
After all, look at all that the Hong Kong Jockey Club has already made happen: Forgetting- if we can- the huge turnover which takes place on a regular basis- there’s the success of the Beer Garden at Happy Valley Racecourse.
There’s now the additional entertainment value of ‘live’ music and fashion shows in-between the races.
There’s the introduction of a SERIES of Happy Wednesday events at all the different venues and no longer “restricted” to The Beer Garden- and all this for just a HK$10 entrance fee.
The advent of Stylish Sundays at the Shatin Racecourse to go with Happy Wednesdays at-where else?- Happy Valley- is only a heart beat away.
For right now, however, a key focus is on I B U. We have seen it, we have played wi th it, we have brought young gamers to whom horse racing is something totally alien and they get it- and big time. Plus Adrenaline has “ambassadresses” there to help “start you up” so you can navigate you own way through these boards. Smaller i-Pad versions of them are sure to be the next step. Comments from those who have played and challenged themselves into trying to “Win With IBU” have ranged from, “Filling out all those betting clips intimidate me and this is so much cooler” to “Wow, I had no idea that I can get all this information at my fingertips and also see exactly how much profit I’ll make by playing with this board.” And this is a key word: Playing.
With the online gaming world and, especially, those who play all forms of poker and other “cool” games, it’s all about “playing”. The word “betting”- like “tipsters”- is for old farts and part of the past and which this potential new generation of race-goer sees as something associated with their mums and dads, aunties and uncles. F*** the X Factor. It’s all about The Cool Factor and if no one knows cool, they’re, well, uncool.
With I B U, the HKJC has taken one mighty big step in making horse racing “cool”- and even fashionable- and, more to the point, fun and easy to understand. And as we all know, “cool” attracts more of “The Cool Factor” and exactly HOW the Club evolves and fine-tunes its marketing efforts to communicate this fact to an extremely cynical market will be interesting to watch.
We’re betting that the HKJC will take the lead and even show the ailing music industry and it’s broken-down and bankrupt music companies a thing or two about addressing this consumer group in a way which talks TO them as opposed to talking AT them and how, at the end, of the day, THEY will make up their own minds. All they need is a slight nudge in the right direction- and from there, they might easily surprise many and create very new “consumer-generated” ways of playing this “new Game” which will spill over to all other aspects of social media.
Remember that Mark Zuckerberg started by giving the world some free online space to satisfy egos and how all this empty space has become what Facebook is today.
Consumers- not Zuckerberg- created Facebook- and it’s consumers who make Facebook what it is today with all their content. Zuckerberg makes all the money for providing some empty online space.
Remember, too, that the use of social media is not an “exacting science.”
No one knows for sure what will or won’t work.
It’s all about first getting something out to consumers and who will, hopefully, pick and choose from the buffet of new technology-driven products out there to make something popular …and which can very easily be this revolutionary new advancement- and part of Marketing 101- in the learning process of horse racing that is I B U.
As the video below proves, it’s quite amazing what goes viral these days and I B U, even in its infancy, can do exactly this. And “going viral” all comes down to consumers and how THEY see things in something which even many seasoned marketers don’t know how to do. Only the consumer can make something go viral unless one hires an SEO and fake it. And that’s all too easy to see and another turn-off. We live in constantly changing and exciting times needing new-fashioned thinking.