The odds in our favour: understanding the motivation to visit New Zealand thoroughbred horse racetrack events during the low-season among 20-30 year-olds
Lee, Michael Anthony
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The New Zealand thoroughbred horse racing industry faces a number of event attendance issues. On the one hand, thousands of visitors reportedly favour thoroughbred horse racing events that feature throughout the November to March summer high-season, so the industry has relied on the economic advantages of concentrating entire marketing campaigns, funds and social activities across this period to maximise yearly revenue. On the other hand, the typical behaviour of a large number of young visitors suggests they do not regard the gambling or sporting features of thoroughbred horse racing highly. Consequently, racetracks focus on the kind of social activity design structures preferred by the majority of young visitors during the high-season. Yet, young visitors continue to visit these racetracks throughout the May to October low-season months. This study therefore identifies and evaluates the specific behaviours among these young low-season visitors, since they are evolving without a pathway that would otherwise encourage them to visit. Young low-season visitors are defined in this study as any male or female between the ages of twenty (20) and thirty (30), since they are usually the largest target of high-season marketing. A post-positivist, mixed-method approach was adopted to evaluate how closely young low-season visitor behaviour aligned with industry survey data and perceptions of typical high-season thoroughbred horse racing visitor interests. To create a background on the thoroughbred horse racing industry, a survey data set on the spending habits of over 12,000 racetrack visitors during the 2008/2009 high-season, a Visitor Survey data set on the various behaviours of over 3,000 visitors during the high-season and two (2) primary, qualitative in-depth interviews with industry members working at a national level were utilised. Once the image of high-season behaviour among young visitors had been portrayed, a nationwide closed-ended survey on young visitor motives, preferences, expectations and choices was conducted at six popular racetrack locations throughout the New Zealand thoroughbred horse racing low-season (May-July) to a sample size of 90 racetrack visitors between the age of 20 and 30. The low-season survey results determined the existence of an alternative behaviour. Most importantly, as much as 50% of the total sample visited primarily to gamble, while 59% of the total sample gambled on almost every race of the day. Moreover, as much as 49% of the total sample prefers gambling as a racetrack activity.