Hong Kong Jockey Club CEO calls for consumer relevance in embracing digital technology strategies18/07/2012
Racing must better understand consumer requirements and tap into the potential of ubiquitous digital technology accordingly if it is to grow as a sport and industry. That was the message from Hong Kong Jockey Club CEO and newly-appointed Vice Chairman of the Asian Racing Federation Mr Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges at the 34th Asian Racing Conference in Istanbul today (18 July).Speaking as chairman of the morning’s Plenary Session titled The Race for the Digitally Empowered Consumer, Mr Engelbrecht-Bresges called for the ARF to be “the forum from which to accelerate racing’s position in the digital race.” He invited racing’s industry leaders to realign their consumer strategies in order to effectively and consistently connect with and recruit customers.“To do this we must change from an inside-out practice of ‘we make, you take’ and progress to one that takes into account customer segmentation, offers customer solutions and ultimately embraces an outside-in approach, wherein we say to our customers, ‘your problems are our problems, today and tomorrow’,” he said.
In his presentation, Racing’s Challenges to go the Distance in the Digital Race, Mr Engelbrecht-Bresges cited global internet usage, which has grown over 528% since December 2000, and pointed to the advance of Facebook, rich media content and the incredible rise in App downloads.“The online market, which is our major potential growth area, is presenting us with huge challenges because we have not embraced the technology in the manner that we should.
We must understand that technology is merely an enabler, content is the key and that content must be relevant to what the consumer wants. “Our competitors have made better use of technology as an enabler to grow their customer base; and besides technology, they have shown a much better understanding of what new customers desire; they have created relevant content to provide an enhanced experience in line with customer expectations.
Racing now has to find its way to compete with contemporary appeal in order to recruit new fans.”Mr Engelbrecht-Bresges called on the industry to create racing’s relevance across demographic boundaries by extending the sport as a key lifestyle and leisure activity, with digital technology a core component.“We must provide a content rich on digital technology, to reconnect horseracing, a centuries old game, with today’s customers,” he said. “We must use technology to enhance the racing product, to meet the growing expectations of our current and potential customers.
If we can succeed in understanding our customers and customer segmentation, we will also succeed in opening up new horizons for horseracing.”Later in the session, the Club’s Executive Director, Customer and Marketing Mr Richard Cheung demonstrated Hong Kong’s recent successful technological innovations, the Race Simulator App and the ibu, during his presentation titled Innovation for the New Generation Racing Fans.Mr Cheung pointed out that despite the sport’s popularity in Hong Kong and its increasing turnover, making horseracing relevant to the younger generation is an ongoing pursuit.
He emphasised two fundamental issues that came to light following extensive customer research.“First of all, we found that our potential customers find it difficult to visualize the dynamics behind racing, how to understand form and all the little intricacies that make up the racing puzzle,” he said. “Secondly, the young generation is unaccustomed to searching through printed material for information.
”Mr Cheung told the Conference that the Club’s innovations have already made an impact, such as the Race Simulator App, which brings the racing experience to the palm of the hand as it accesses upcoming racecards and lets customers input various attributes of competing horses to visually simulate the race and come to a “result”; and the introduction at Happy Valley Racecourse of ibu, the world’s largest multi-touch screen interactive table for racing information and betting transaction.“Within two weeks of launch, the Race Simulator App had become the number one App in Hong Kong’s iTunes Store and to date it has more than 139,000 downloads,” he said. “The ibu has been well received among new racegoers who are at ease with its sleek digital display functions; but while these innovations are already proving popular, they are just the starting point in the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s drive to make racing relevant to the new generation.”
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