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So where did it all go wrong?

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15 hours ago, SCB said:

Exactly, because the sport is promoted to your nan. They play music for you nan. They interview dull ex-riders with no charisma from your nans era, the presenter is the same age as your nan and they incentive your nan to attend by letting her in for less.

But if you dare suggest these thing are wrong you may are treated as if you have just said, “all old people should be rounded up and shot”.

They do nothing for young people but you suggest this has to change and the old people come out with their pitch forks. They’re being selfish, the sport is going to die with them but they don’t care because obviously they’ll be dead so why would they care that the sport doesn’t exist in the U.K. any more when they’re gone?

Cue more pitch forks because I’ve dared to suggest again that old people is not a good target audience. Other than Saga what company targets old people? Speedway does it, speedway obviously knows best.

actually not entirely true... on the island kids 16 and under are free and we have a young adult pricing for ages 17 - 20 .When we announced this last year one club, I think Kings Lynn, did the same.

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1. Times have changed and live sport in general struggles for attendances. There is much more competition for peoples time and the majority of it can be had without leaving the house.

2. Speedway made a dogs dinner of their TV coverage and failed to use the income wisely. Many sports have survived decreasing crowds by using TV coverage to bring in sponsorship but Speedway generally hasn't bought in a lot of good sponsors.

3. The facilities at some tracks are appalling.

4. Not enough local riders or teams that retain riders for consecutive seasons.

5. The fans talk the sport down and want home wins when good racing is what will attract new spectators. Very much an underrated factor in my opinion, not only the fans but some promotions as well tell everybody that Speedway is a struggling, dying sport.

6. There are too many meetings in a too long season. Double edged sword as need the meetings to cover the track rent in most cases but even football is generally a bi-weekly event for most fans. Effectively doubles the cost for many supporters or leads to them picking the best meetings and not being bothered if they miss a few when the weather is dodgy. The season used to be Good Friday until the world final in mid September. Much better chance of decent weather and less weather ruined meetings.

 

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refreshing to read what IOW are doing to encourage people to watch .. my Mrs is from the IOW and has family there so would be a regular visitor, but ferry fares are what put us off :/

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How refreshing to see a Promoter take time to come on here and make comments.

I've watched IOW from afar and have always been impressed with their commitment and ethos.

It just goes to show, you can follow your team, have a great night out, feel part of the club and involved, without it being the 'top riders' in the sport.

I'd be happy to follow such a team and set up if it were local to me.

We've lost our focus and direction...it's not all about having the 'GP type' riders at your club and all the costs and problems that brings.

Great...he's got fast bikes and expensive gear...and can go 4 seconds faster around the track...big deal. I and many other fans would rather watch four riders of equal ability on lesser equipment, racing week in week out...and if they have other jobs like the rest of us to get by...so be it. Fantastic...we can relate.

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30 minutes ago, stevehone said:

refreshing to read what IOW are doing to encourage people to watch .. my Mrs is from the IOW and has family there so would be a regular visitor, but ferry fares are what put us off :/

There is actually a discount code available for fans to come over for about 20%, plus we operate a free taxi service from Ryde Pier to the stadium and back again. If you are bringing a car book early to avoid higher costs (in the event of a rain off or some other reason you cannot travel the ticket can be moved to a later date).

I will meet with Wightlink soon and will pass on your feedback... I guess the question is what would be a price, that would be reasonable to pay to use the ferry to come to the stadium just for speedway?

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32 minutes ago, Gresham said:

How refreshing to see a Promoter take time to come on here and make comments.

I've watched IOW from afar and have always been impressed with their commitment and ethos.

It just goes to show, you can follow your team, have a great night out, feel part of the club and involved, without it being the 'top riders' in the sport.

I'd be happy to follow such a team and set up if it were local to me.

We've lost our focus and direction...it's not all about having the 'GP type' riders at your club and all the costs and problems that brings.

Great...he's got fast bikes and expensive gear...and can go 4 seconds faster around the track...big deal. I and many other fans would rather watch four riders of equal ability on lesser equipment, racing week in week out...and if they have other jobs like the rest of us to get by...so be it. Fantastic...we can relate.

exactly right, speed is relative to the others in the race. Close racing, with incident, strong characters, fan interaction and kids involvement is what we strive for.

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3 hours ago, barrybishop said:

exactly right, speed is relative to the others in the race. Close racing, with incident, strong characters, fan interaction and kids involvement is what we strive for.

its what the whole sport in this country should strive for - big names do not necessarily equal good racing in fact the opposite is often the case

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7 minutes ago, ch958 said:

its what the whole sport in this country should strive for - big names do not necessarily equal good racing in fact the opposite is often the case

 

i agree, but so many bang on about the standards dropping, they can't see that we need 4 riders on track that will create the excitement more than anything else

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Great posts Barry,

Looks like you tick a lot of boxes when it comes to customer care and knowing what they want..

About, what seems, 100 years ago now I got a degree in tourism marketing,  focusing on the Leisure industry, ie hotels, museums, musicals, shows, gardens, stately homes, fun parks, water parks etc etc,.

A highly competitive area where each fight against each other for the 'entertainment doller' of their customers..

I was very fortunate in that the lecturer I had had retired at 45, a very wealthy man who had spent his adult life working successfully within, and then advising many major 'Leisure' oriented businesses on how to be successful and used his lecturing as an opportunity to share his knowledge for, as he described it, "his beer money"...

He always made a point of differentiating between price and value for money as the key determinant of what people purchase. With price often the short term reason and value for money the long term reason for repeat purchases..

He mentioned often how important effective communication was in relation to customers and how repeat visits were key to the continued growth of any business, but particularly in the Leisure/Entertainment sector. He advised all his clients to have a database of their customers, which in those days  amounted to telephone numbers and addresses as a basic, and birthdays, anniversaries, kids names and their birthdays in particular, as an add on 'to make the difference'.

He even used to make notes on each family who attended his hotel, ie if they ever mentioned any 'memorable occasions coming up' he wrote it down on their booking forms so when they returned the following year one of the first things he asked was for example 'how did little Johnny do when he went for his 'tying a knot badge' at cubs?" A very, very powerful tool in winning the emotional loyalty of your customers, all within seconds of them visiting your establishment..

He also sent out through the year Xmas cards, Anniversary cards, Birthday cards (with small gifts for the kids) as one of his key messages was 'always make sure they remember you even through the off season'.. 

Now meeting and greeting every fan at Speedway would be unrealistic but targeting the kids as so few attend at many tracks would be possible. As would, in this modern age, getting email,  and mobile phone data of every adult in attendance to target market them through the season and off season.

Eg How many clubs push their mechandise at Xmas to their fanbase? Maybe an odd 10% off voucher sent electronically would get them interested?

How many clubs know who has actually attended the match every week? In this digital age it wouldn't be difficult to know and then target anyone missing a few weeks with direct marketing..

His final two bits of advice was 'never be afraid to know the truth' and by that he encouraged all his businesses to 'pro-actively' seek feedback, as what you think you may be providing is sometimes very differently perceived by your customers, and always make sure customers went away with either a positive memory or a tangible souvenir (preferably both!) to remind them of their visit..

First and last impressions are so very, very important....

As someone who was a 1970's follower of the Sport so saw the 'great days' of Collins, Mauger, Olsen et al, I have to say that today's racing is, in the main, often of a not too dissimilar standard to what I witnessed back then (and at the NSS I see some of the best racing I have ever seen in over 40 years of watching the Sport ).  

So from a racing perspective I would suggest that the 'core product' is more than acceptable. The biggest difference is nowadays you often watch 'contrived meetings' full of Guests, in three quarters empty stadia rather than packed in on the terraces watching 'your team' like we did, in the main, during the Sports 'halcyon' days...

A BIG crowd can certainly make an 'ordinary' meeting 'special' and vice versa, a poor crowd can make a 'great' meeting appear no more than 'ordinary'...

It seems on the Isle Of White at least you are trying to bring that BIG crowd in to deliver that virtuous circle Speedway so desperately needs of..

Big crowd = More Atmosphere.  More Atmosphere = More Customer Satisfaction. More Customer Satisfaction = Bigger Crowds...

And delivering it too through some clear, modern thinking, pro active marketing allied to a customer focused operating model,...

So more power to your elbow Barry and Team down there. .!

Hope it continues to be a success, and maybe a Blueprint for others...?

Edited by mikebv
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For me, personally, the period it started going wrong was in the 90s. I remember being passionate about speedway even then, although there were times I started questioning how loyal the sport was to me, the average fan. It was about 1994, a run-of-the-mill Four Team round at Kirky Lane that had to be delayed while riders were held up dashing back from Swedish commitments the night before. I had turned up, like the other thousand or so that night, in sufficient time before start in case I missed something... and yet the full cast wasn't there as scheduled. To me, at that time. I was merely part of a crowd that was supplementing another paynight for the riders who were en-route, and I questioned their true one-club loyalty. Riders had other irons in the fire - not on the individual front, but for other teams, other countries.That the Polish and Swedish leagues were now importing what had been primarily British-based riders didn't seem right to me. How could riders be team mates in another country and yet opposition over here! That wasn't the rivalry  I grew up thinking speedway was about... from now on it was simply riders earning a crust, whenever and wherever, getting the best out of being self-employed (as Scott Nicholls described himself recently). They were putting too many fingers in too many pies. Then over here we had the ludicrous doubling up and down, here, there and everywhere rule, which further took away my belief in team speedway. Even when SKY began doing live matches in 1999, I still adored the sport. My adoration continued being smacked about though. The Golden Double, in which riders purposely slowed down to allow a team mate through and so to earn the double points, the World Cup in which Pedersen and Crump tried to stage-manage their race position so that one country couldn't operate the Joker in the next heat. The last 10-15 years have made me realise that speedway and its ethics have placed a huge cloud over my belief in the sport. Riders spreading themselves too thinly have taken away the true value of a team sport. Thankfully the double points rule has been confined to the sport's tried-but-failed old-rules shelf. albeit 15 years too late.

Edited by moxey63
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We tend to believe that the future of speedway lies with the young. But simply because you are 25-65 doesn't stop so-called promoters trying to educate this age group what the sport is all about. Indeed, they'll be more inclined to stick with it.

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7 minutes ago, moxey63 said:

We tend to believe that the future of speedway lies with the young. But simply because you are 25-65 doesn't stop so-called promoters trying to educate this age group what the sport is all about. Indeed, they'll be more inclined to stick with it.

It's an interesting point. Given that the majority of speedway's current fan base are over 40, I am puzzled as to why people think the future lies with attracting youngsters. It is very rare that a product appeals to all age groups and when this does happen it is often high-end or aspirational brands such as Ferrari, Rolex, Gucci etc. There are very few mid-market brands which have widespread appeal.

Therefore it does seem strange that speedway doesn't try to appeal to the market that makes up the majority of its current base - the 40-65+ age group.

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This is really interesting to read.... strange we do give away bits for example free sweets every week for kids and we will extend this to include fruit this year too. We "give away" used tearoffs and the kids love it... riders sign them of course.

I take note of your digital communication and we all to often use social media as the "main tool" but now when texts are mainly free there could be an opportunity to increase our communication flow to those who have mobiles but do not use social media.

Atmosphere is really important to us and this does increase the crowd interaction. Something we continue to work on and improve.

Thanks for inspiring the grey matter and the advice, appreciate it.

Barry

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6 hours ago, barrybishop said:

actually not entirely true... on the island kids 16 and under are free and we have a young adult pricing for ages 17 - 20 .When we announced this last year one club, I think Kings Lynn, did the same.

Mick Horton tried something similar at Coventry last season to encourage more families to attend. Senior Citizen's lower admission price was removed so they had to pay the full adult price and it was cheaper for students and children.  Result ~ they lost lots of OAP's who refused to pay another £2 because they had always paid less.  Sad isn't it? Who would be a promoter.

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The big plus of targeting kids is simply their parents take them and pay to get in..

Kiddie pressure to go somewhere they like is something I and millions of others know only too well to our (literally) cost......!!

There is only so much disposable income a family has for 'entertainment' so very often 'the kids' will dictate the place to visit...

Obviously you would want to target all demographics to attend the Sport but targeting kids would I would suggest bring the biggest and fastest return on your investment...

Look at Mcdonald's and Burger King, they have two very different customer profiles and advertise themselves accordingly. McDonald's target the kids through parties as well as advertising (at great length and cost),  how '100% natural chicken breast' their nuggets are, and Burger King target the adult market through pushing 'taste' , 'quality',  and 'size' of Burgers (eg flame grilled Whopper etc)...

Now look at the huge disparate success of each business....

I would suggest Mcdonald's know which demographic makes them the most money and targets them accordingly...

What Speedway does miss for me is the huge opportunities that treating EVERY meeting as an EVENT would bring. For many tracks 500 more punters a night would see them in profit...

To do that you don't need the same 500,  any random 500 each week will do...

If some stay and become regulars then great, if not there is a huge catchment area of thousands around most tracks that have never even heard of the Sport on their doorstep..

Don't spend £3000 a match on a No1 who whether there or not hardly has any impact to the crowd level as the locals 'wouldnt know him from Adam', instead spend half that a week employing someone who can get the locals into the stadiums!!

 

Edited by mikebv
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