Taking your clients horseracing could be the key to winning and influencing business, reveals a new ‘suit-watching’ study: Corporate Bonding at the Races, published today (8 February) by social anthropologist, Kate Fox of the Oxford based Social Issues Research Centre. Sponsored by The British Horseracing Board (BHB) and Compass Group specialist caterers Letheby & Christopher, the report finds that:
* Racing is blessed with a natural ‘corporate-friendly’ culture. The social climate of the racecourse creates ideal conditions for developing friendly relations between business contacts.
* Unlike other sports, racing has a tradition of embracing spectators who attend for social reasons, as well as enthusiasts.
* Racing is easy to understand and enjoyable for complete novices.
* Socialising at the races does not involve ‘ missing the action’
* The traditional customs of racing encourage corporate bonding. The rituals of the half-hour between races ensure that guests always have something to talk about. But none of these activities is compulsory, so guests do not feel coerced or controlled.
* Racing’s female-friendly culture is a main reason for corporate racegoers choosing it.
Field research for the Corporate Bonding at the Races study was carried out over 11 months at 16 UK racecourses using the ‘participant-observation’ methods usually employed for studying tribal societies.
More than half a million guests, or one in ten racegoers, are entertained each year at the races. Corporate hospitality generates an average of 10 per cent of racecourse turnover.
In a foreword to the report, Terry Barwick, Director of Corporate Affairs at Vodafone Group plc, sponsors of the Vodafone Derby, writes:
“”What this study clearly demonstrates is that there is no better sport than horseracing for getting to know clients … the environment for corporate bonding could not be more ideal than at the races – from sharing a meal or a tip, to celebrating a win , racing is all about togetherness and building strong relationships.””
The study’s co-sponsors, Letheby & Christopher, say organisations are being more selective about their corporate entertainment spend. “”Companies used to choose their corporate entertainment based on either traditional past practice or personal sporting preferences,”” explains Tony Roestenburg, Chief Executive of Compass UK Leisure, of which Letheby & Christopher is an operating company. “”Today they are looking for a cost-effective event that will meet their business objectives and clearly demonstrate the benefit of their corporate hospitality programme – something they can now do with the assistance of this report.””
Welcoming the finding of the study, the BHB’s Communications Director, Peter Bell, said: “”One of the great selling points for racing is that it’s fun for experts and novices alike. It is both a wonderful entertainment in its own right and a great way to socialise. We’re delighted that, looking at it from the point of view of a social scientist, Kate Fox has reached the same conclusion. Her report can only encourage businesses to invest more in corporate entertainment at Britain’s racecourses.””