Pegasus takes off

In last month’s newsletter we heard about Kempton Park and the role it is playing in Pegasus, the new venues collective.

Pegasus unites 13 of Britain’s premier racecourses and like other venue groupings such as The Stadium Experience and The Westminster Collection, it is aiming to provide a better overall service for its existing and potential clients.

Pegasus complements the direct local contact that event organisers have with the individual venues by co-ordinating the booking of all 13 courses and offering them a streamlined one-stop shop at the national level. It also provides a fascinating overview of exactly who is using its venues.

Racing is Britain’s second most popular live spectator sport after football and the Pegasus venues host, to name but a few, The Grand National, The Epsom Derby and The Cheltenham Gold Cup. Despite all this, they attract even more people to non-racing events than to race meetings.

In total, nearly 5.4 million people visited one of the Pegasus venues last year, a figure that amounts to more than the entire population of Scotland. Racegoers make up 35 per cent of the total figure with 65 per cent of visitors attending conferences, concerts, trade fairs, exhibitions, banquets, outdoor festivals or other events that usually have little or nothing to do with racing.

Although the creation of Pegasus has highlighted the expertise that its venues now have at hosting anything from a small meeting to a four-day music festival for 20,000, that is not its main purpose.

“Pegasus is all about making life easier for people to host events at our racecourses,” says Jo Watts, the marketing manager of Pegasus Venues. “Our dedicated team of event specialists provide a central point of contact. With just one call our clients can find out which of our racecourses might be available or be the most suitable for a particular event. We can also provide integrated planning for multi-venue events on a national level.”

In some ways it is not surprising that Pegasus attracts so many non-racing visitors, since most of its venues stage racing for 10 per cent of the year, while they can host other events for 100 per cent of the time. Their racecourses have some of the most beautiful settings of any venues in the country, and an atmosphere that is steeped in the heritage and romance of racing certainly adds an extra ingredient to conferences, team building events, award ceremonies and product launches. They also have acres and acres of space, great road and rail access and virtually unlimited parking.

“We are currently investing more than £100million in improving our venues and a great deal of that money will have a direct effect on the standard of facilities we are able to offer event organisers and agents,” says Watts. “At the moment we are spending £31 million building two new grandstands at Aintree which will be finished in spring 2007, just in time for next year’s Grand National. We already have some great venues with state-of-the-art technology, but we certainly aren’t standing still, Pegasus has only just begun.”

As already stated there is already a number of organisations like Pegasus that are uniting venues under a common umbrella and it is hard to believe that there won’t be many more very soon. It could maybe get a little confusing in the fullness of time, especially if some venues belonged to more than one of these but, in the meantime, the busy events organiser should welcome their introduction.

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