Marc Stapelberg

Industry should race from decisions to outcomes

THE 2015 Australian Racing Conference was held in Brisbane this week.

The value of such an event does not lie in what views are expounded during individual topic sessions, which to the credit of this year's conference included discussion on customer experience, fan relationship management, the future of the wagering landscape, workforce development, race programming, breeding and much more.

So although the conference touched base on a lot of issues, and knowledgeable and vastly experienced guest speakers led the way and would have helped drive delegates to certain conclusions, the true value of holding such a conference does not even come from making good, strategic decisions based on important factors and evidence presented during the conference.

The value only becomes real when positive outcomes from the conference are actually implemented to the benefit of the racing industry at large.

So under those terms, the success or otherwise of this week's conference cannot be established overnight.

All racing participants will have to wait to see if some tangible good comes of it.

 BIG business has to take care of big business priorities, namely, setting up a profit-making model that is sustainable.

No question about that, but I was intrigued by the first topic of the first speaker on the first day of the conference.

I thought it drove straight to the crux of the future of racing in Australia, which ultimately is as much about people as it is about money.

Gillon McLachlan, the chief executive officer of the AFL, spoke about "customer experience".

McLachlan covered matters - from an AFL perspective - such as how to attract and retain fans through the customer experience, how to understand what customers want and how to then create a compelling offering.

Also, how to gather information and decide what data should be used to make informed decisions, noting the power and importance of managing the brand and its consistency at every point.

All great, valuable and necessary points to debate.

If ever there is an aspect of racing that needs overall, general improvement all year around - not just during carnivals - it is customer experience on a consistent basis.

Racing has to look after those customers it already has as much as it has to strive to increase the customer pool - and arguably that has not always seemed to be in the psyche of racing's administrators.

My hope is racing administrators take away the best advice from the "customer experience" segment of the conference, formulate a desired option, recognise how far removed it is from the current situation and act quickly to remedy the situation.

Then, already, racing will be on its way to better things.

CONGRATULATIONS to local champion jockey Damian Browne for taking out the Caloundra Cup with an inch-perfect ride on Indexed Linked last weekend.

It is the fourth year in a row Browne has taken out at least one of the three feature events - the Cup, the Glasshouse or the Guineas - on Cup day.

*Graham Potter is the managing editor of

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