What Does The Future Hold?

by Ed Meyer

posted on October 15, 2008 in General Discussion, Horse Racing | No Comments >>

The racing industry is hurting. This is no big news around the country as we can see the effects of a white knuckle grip of a limping economy.

I have worked in the industry most of my career life, and I have to pose the question. Are slot machines or full-blown racinos the answer? The knee jerk reaction would be to say yes for many. But after deep thought, and sleepless nights I think we need to re-examine this savior.

If you have been watching the casino industry, or have read reports about Las Vegas and Atlantic City, you will see a decline there as well. For the time being, Vegas is experiencing an across the board decline. This is not limited to a few casinos; it applies to all.

So, what is the answer?  Well, we can take a look at the economy as a barometer. All areas have shown a downward turn, and a few good days are not going to make up for a bad year. Fans of racing have to make house payments, car payments, attempt to fill their cars with gas, and put food on the table. Racing is another form of entertainment. It is a luxury. It is not a necessity.

Racing has to be introspective. We need to hold the light of truth to ourselves and take a good hard look. How are we retaining customers? Are we taking them for granted? Have we become complacent? The answer is bad. We have done nothing and expected something. This business model applies to every losing business known to man.

We don’t need a snappy marketing campaign to bring you back one or two days a year. We need to roll up our sleeves and go to work. Offer fans a clean environment to wager; a full compliment to wager; have reasonably priced handicapping items to use; have customer forums as focus groups to tell us the truth. We need to hear it, and let them know they have a say. Oh, and allow them to have access to quality food without hocking their car. By offering the full service treatment, fans are more inclined to stay and play.

I know, I know it will cost money…. Tell me what is more expensive. Starting from scratch and cultivating new players, or coming out of pocket and spending a bit more until days get better. Race fans have a good memory. Help them enjoy the sport now by making adjustments, and they will form a loyal customer base for years to come. It is cheaper to retain current patrons than growing new ones.

During this ‘dry’ time in racing we can lose players for good. The old “build it and they will come” does not apply. Reach in a bit deeper. You are reaching for two things: helping to save the game for your players and saving your business. We better decide now.