Blog – 22nd December

Welcome to the second blog from the team at Pontefract Racecourse.

Every fortnight, someone from the team will share their thoughts for your entertainment (or otherwise!):

  • Managing Director, Norman Gundill with his trusty PA, Caroline who also looks after the hospitality,
  • Accounts Manager, Nicola,
  • Admin manager, Carol,
  • Marketing exec, Alexia and,
  • Chief Operating Officer, Richard, who is writing this blog.

Value on Racecourses – 22 December 2022

Much has been published about pricing at British Racecourses: from the cost of entry, to the cost of food and drink once you’re inside the course – indeed, the Racing Post published their Racecourse Prices Index with visits around the courses undertaken in 2022.

The ‘Cost of Living Crisis’ is an overused phrase but is a very real concept and it has been looming large on the horizon for a few months now. It’s something that we’re painfully aware of – from a business perspective, from a personal perspective and from the point of view of our customers.

So how do we address it? How do we keep racing as cost effective as possible, offering genuine value, while still managing the increasing tariffs that are being directed towards us? 

It’s a fine balance. We hope we’re on the right lines but, as 2023 dawns, we’ll need to keep an eye on how the year progresses.

We want everyone to feel they are getting value:

  1. We recognise the different costs in staging race meetings.
    A midweek Tuesday afternoon does not cost as much to stage as, for example, a Friday evening or a Sunday when there are additional considerations and attractions.
    So we’ve introduced differential costs.
    This means that over 80% of the race meetings in 2023 will cost less, or the same, than in 2022.

2. We put on great early bird offers.
I’ve not been to as many Two Circles workshops as I have without learning the mantra that the best price should be the first price – ‘The earlier you book, the cheaper it is!’

And it works! Start the sales curve early! The customer saves and we get income at a time of year when we would not normally have any, helping us to spread the annual costs.

3. We offer value packages.
We’ve teamed up with our catering partner to offer what we think are some great packages. We’ve got a new offering which I think gives exceptional value.
We also got the opportunity to make a fun video advert to sit alongside the promotion which is always an added bonus!
It’s really important to us to have a ‘Yorkshire’ voice in everything we do. Did someone say Flat Caps and Whippets? Of course…

The True Yorkshireman

4. Give back to the regulars
It sounds like a clichéd line, but we are incredibly grateful for those who choose to spend their hard earned cash at Ponte and so there’s a loyalty card, concessions for students and OAPs as well as free entry for different customer groups on a variety of days.  

Racecourse caterers come in for a fair amount of stick and, to be honest, they are fighting a losing battle most of the time. Rising staff costs, staff shortages, brewery increases, rising food prices – who’d be a caterer?

We had the first of our pricing meetings for 2023 last week. They’re long, involved, difficult meetings and it can be a battle.

Customers often tell us they can get their pint at ‘their local’ much cheaper. And it’s true – they absolutely can. What is sometimes overlooked is that ‘their local’ doesn’t move the travelling catering circus in and out for just 16 times a year – they operate 365 days a year – and the costs of set up and clearing up are huge.

It’s not that I’m trying to defend them – some of the prices that are put forward at early meetings are over the top. We take quite a unique viewpoint in that we subsidise some items so that the entry level price to the customer is fair.  It’s important to try and wear the customer’s shoes and think about times when you’ve felt taken advantage of as a customer and avoid that at all costs.

Anyway, speaking of food and drink, it’s Christmas! So, to end, here’s our glorious Carol to set the Christmas mood.

Have a great Christmas and New Year and we’ll see you on the other side when Alexia will be writing her first blog!