The Melbourne Cup Carnival is over for another year. The celebrities, the fashion, the marquees are all gone till 2014. While most the media’s attention shone a spotlight on these areas, the public area was where the real story was.
The attendance for the 4 days was down by approximately 20,000 from last year. Each day suffered a decline on last year. What is most harrowing is Oaks Day attendance has fallen roughly 40% in the last 9 years. The capping of numbers at Derby and Cup Day were not needed, with the days not reaching the 100,000 and 110,000 attendances respectively.
While it’s easy to just quote numbers, it is pointless without trying to find ways on why the attendance is in decline, and how it can be improved.
Are ticket prices too high? Only Stakes Day has increased steadily since 2004, and this is the cheapest day. With finding an outfit, food and drink, betting and transport it can become a very costly day.
Was weather a factor? Was there other entertainment options? The Victorian Racing Club (VRC) will have a look at all these factors to determine what, if anything, needs to be changed.
While it hasn’t hit panic stations yet, it definitely is something that needs to be addressed. The perception of these days are that they are full of young people only wanting to get drunk and run amok. This keeps the racing purists away. However, if the young people don’t attend, then who will?
Going back to the point of Oaks Day, I feel that the connect between ‘Ladie’s Day’ and Oaks has been lost. Historically it was seen as the day when women would come to the races, picnic in hand, and revel in the fashion and fun. Now it is seen as the forgotten day, wedged between the weekends and the big race. THE VRC’s campaign to convince your boss to let you have the day off was good, albeit it a little too late.
As previously mentioned, the cost is a huge factor, especially when the alternate options are much cheaper. An issue that racing clubs have had previously is that they only see other sport as competition to their product. This is untrue. Days like these are about the entertainment and socialising. Thus, other entertainment options must be seen as competition. This could include going to the movies or going to a nightclub. When clubs start to assess these, they can work out on how to better improve their experience. What do the 25-35 years old want from the day? How can they shape the day for the next generation of racegoers?