Creating Racing Fans of the Future – Bath Racecourse and Award-Winning ‘Kids Takeover Racing’
Bath Racecourse put young people at the centre of their raceday when creating Kids Takeover Racing. Bath’s Marketing and PR Manager Tom Bettles explains more about the success of the initiative.
They say never to work with children or animals. We did both with great success!
While planning our 2018 fixtures we recognised that our family fixtures were remaining static in terms of attendance numbers, and that we were appealing to young racegoers using bouncy castles and face painting, rather than through the excitement and fun of racing itself.
Kids Takeover Racing was designed to build a platform to grow the love of racing as a sport by engaging children with the initiative, as well as delivering an exceptional social race-going experience during the event.
We engaged local schools and youth groups with the aim of receiving good feedback scores, a more local audience (booking address less than 20 miles from the course) and delivering growth without increasing our marketing budget. Racing to School and Two Circles were both involved in our delivery and were a big help.
Unprecedented access to a day at the races
Not only were the Kids Takeover participants excited by the day, which was run on 7th May 2018, but so were all of our external stakeholders who were incredibly supportive and enthusiastic. At The Races jumped at the opportunity and arranged for a lucky youngster to have a go at presenting, and even interviewing David Probert. The BHA helped us along with granting permission for involvement in certain unique duties.
With this support and that of the racecourse team we were able to offer roles in abundance! We had a participant confirming the going; a raceday photographer; a Clerk of the Scales and commentary, under the guidance of a very supportive Mike Cattermole. The participants varied in age, from younger children to those 16+ who are considering a career in racing.
It was also great that that none of these activities cost anything apart from time from colleagues and our volunteers across the sport!
Sponsorship was key
Finding a sponsor that would add to our ambitions for the day was a key task. We were grateful to Drive Vauxhall who ran competitions online in advance of the day and on the day gave the chance for one of our young families to win the chance to present the Drive Vauxhall sponsored races.
We invited smaller groups to experience raceday roles, while a larger group enjoyed a behind-the- scenes day, riding on the racing simulator and a running race down the track itself. All our young attendees were able to enjoy the usual family day entertainment and pony racing on the day. Some young volunteers even got to see how we put together a raceday marketing campaign in the run-up to the event, giving input on the ‘Kids Takeover’ brand and being part of our photoshoot.
Results speak for themselves
Not only did our guests provide fantastic feedback from the day, but one participant has gone on to enrol at the British Racing School as a direct result of their day with us at Bath. Racecourse attendance figures also got a boost, achieving a 53% increase – confirming our belief that commercial success and supporting our community go hand-in-hand.
Capturing high quality content from such an action-packed day is crucial for us to ensure the continued growth of the fixture, and the following of the sport not only in the Bath and Somerset region but nationally for all our racecourses. There was some encouraging interest from schools in Bath and Bristol after the event and we are already working towards a significant increase in school participation in 2019, drawing upon the success of this year and creating a legacy from the campaign.
Bath’s community commitment
In addition to the next generation of racing fans, we also initiated this year a ‘Free for NHS Employees’ raceday, with additional discounts on racing and events tickets on other days throughout the year. We also work with multiple charities to run charity racedays throughout the year, donating over £12,000 worth of tickets to charities and local community fundraising projects including schools.
We created The Bath Cup festival in 2018 with a view to putting together another event that serves as a celebration for the City.
We also wanted an identity for our Live Entertainment on racedays this year, and ‘Lansdown Live’ was the result. The idea behind this is to give the opportunity for up-and-coming music talent to perform on racedays. We think that this is a better way to book music acts and also makes sure the acts are local, giving something back to the local community. We are pleased that this programme has been sponsored by a local events/electrical firm Sounds Commercial.
Winning the RCA Events Award
We were so pleased to be awarded a team award: the RCA Events Award at last month’s Racecourse Association Showcase & Awards evening. The panel kindly provided the following feedback: “Amazingly innovative and great to see children being able to do some real racing roles. As a parent you would want to take your children to this event. You can tell this was hugely popular and no doubt will bring in new customers to the racecourse in future. Simply fabulous.” We are looking forward to growing all of our events here at Bath next year and increasing our positive impact on our local community.