Thursday, August 5, 2010

What Will Our WEG Legacy Be?

I have the feeling that some of you think that I want the WEG to fail. Nothing could be further from the truth. I want the WEG to do well. I want help the WEG to do real well, but I cannot. I cannot attend even though it is in my back yard, so to speak. I have been priced out of the events just like I have been priced out of UK basketball season tickets. The basketball tickets are proven popular item while the WEG tickets are, so far, showing some lackluster sales. I just question the whys of this inability to attend this supposed “world class”, “once in a lifetime” future changer for Lexington.

While it can be alleged that there have been mistakes made by the local WEG staff, and that remains to be seen, there are others in this field of equestrian shows who have anticipated great things and fell a little short. A case in point is this pair of reports from England.
Royal Festival of the Horse organisers admit 'we got it wrong'

Organisers of the inaugural Royal Festival of the Horse have admitted they "got it wrong" after spectators spurned costly entrance tickets, but have vowed to learn from their mistakes.

They admit ticket sales were "disappointing", with only 20,152 visitors passing through the gates over the three days (9-11 July), despite hoping for around 50,000.

Spectators were "appalled" by the high cost of the event — tickets were £20 for entry, plus a further £20 for grandstand seating.

Sandra Curtis from Hull was disappointed by the costs: "The price of admission is scandalous and then to ask people to pay again for a seat is outrageous. I saw people going away from the gate when they found out how much it was to get in."
And many were unaware there would be no free viewing for the main arena.

But the Royal Agricultural Society of England (RASE) has promised to learn from the feedback.

Spokesman Alice Bell told H&H: "We made a mistake. We were overly ambitious with the pricing. Moving on, we will have lower ticket prices, make it clearer how the ticketing works and take a different approach to marketing."

She also admitted the show made a "considerable loss" leaving a "sizeable black hole" in RASE finances. But dates have already been set for next year. "We believe the show could be a great success, but we will need to invest in that. We will improve and listen — we're not the old, arrogant RASE we used to be," she added.

Tradestands suffered from poor attendance. Alan Cousins from Cousins of Cheltenham, who has been at the Royal Show for the past 25 years, was "appalled" by the lack of publicity.

"They've shot themselves in the foot — I won't be coming back. I thought they were amateurs five years ago — and they still are. They've got it completely wrong — again. We paid £3,500 to come here and we'll be lucky to take £2,000."

Showing competitors had niggles too, mainly regarding the ground and high entry prices.
This article was first published in Horse & Hound (15 July, '10)

If you were to substitute the Alltech/FEI Games for the Royal Festival folks and realize that this is our ONLY shot and they won’t be coming back, this story could be running in the Herald-Leader some time in mid to late October. We have already seen the articles about the weak ticket sales and the less than anticipated number of vendors, which the British call tradestands. The latest stories are about the lodging opportunities for the Games.

The second British article reiterates most of the first but continues to show the point of trades people being angry enough to ask for rebates.
Tradestand holders at Royal Festival of the Horse demand refunds

Tradestand holders at the controversial Royal Festival of the Horse (9-11 July) are demanding compensation after many made substantial losses.

Less than half the anticipated 50,000 visitors turned up for the inaugural three-day festival.

The show was run jointly by the Royal Agricultural Society of England (RASE) and Express Events (EE), who have since asked all stallholders and exhibitors for feedback.

Photographer Simon Palmer sent in a lengthy complaint. "The concept is brilliant, but everyone is left feeling very let down," he said.

Attendance overstated

Among their gripes was low visitor attendance. Although organisers told H&H two weeks ago that 20,152 visitors passed through the gates, they have now admitted this was a "total attendance" figure that included exhibitors, competitors and staff.
Assistant director of RASE events Alice Bell told H&H: "We never intended to mislead people. The total visitor figure will be released after a board meeting later this week."

Ema Odlin from The Horse Bits Shop said she was "disgusted" with the way the festival was organised and feels "ripped off".

"The stand space cost was on a par with the likes of Burghley and Badminton," she wrote in a letter to organisers.

'Totally mismanaged'

Niall McGuiness from Equine Care travelled from Dublin to take a stall but took only £50 over the three days, making a loss of £2,000.

"This event was totally mismanaged from the very top," he said. "Are the problems the Festival of the Horse faced the same as those that led to the Royal Show ceasing to exist?"

But RASE's Alice Bell hit back at his claims, saying: "The management team is 100% different to that of the Royal Show, so personally I think it's unfair to draw similarities."

She said the board is due to meet this week, to consider all feedback and whether the show will go ahead next year.

This article was first published in Horse & Hound (29 July, '10)
Had the local WEG committee held the prices low enough for the general population to enjoy this “once in a lifetime” event, just think how great it would be to really show the world that we ARE the “Horse Capital of the World”. I would be there and I would talk about in glowing terms.

Now, I fear that we will talk about our failure to impress when we showed our less than best side during the Games.

No comments: