Anne M. Eberhardt

Customer Needs Focus of Simulcast Conference

Conference notes all sports are competing to bring customers out of their homes.

The three-day International Simulcast Conference in Lexington will commence at 2 p.m. Monday, Oct. 7, with a series of sessions devoted to the urgent need to improve and enhance the customer experience at tracks and simulcast facilities.

The current buzzwords are transformative social experiences.

With all sports--even the NFL--concerned with competing with the comfort and convenience of high-definition, large-screen viewing at home, the afternoon's speakers will address facility amenities, customers' demands for superior video and information access, and the need to produce a heightened shared experience.

Emerging technology and its effect on sports and entertainment venue design and use will be addressed by Populous director of Equestrian Services Todd Gralla, Populous Activate director Brian Mirakian, and the New Meadowlands' CEO/general manager Jason Settlemoir.

Populous Activate uses the power of design to link fans, brands, and properties to enhance and extend the in-stadium experience through architecture and interiors, signage, graphics, interactive media, and exhibits. Mirakian and Gralla will explore innovations that are important to next-generation venue design, how to better connect with the future fan, and the integration of technology, particularly as it impacts fan engagement.

Settlemoir, whose management experience also includes Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs, will focus his comments on the New Meadowlands' grandstand building currently under construction, sharing renderings of the facility and how it has been designed to fulfill the hospitality goals and philosophy of Chairman Jeff Gural and his management team.

Recognizing the integral role communication plays in building a socially gratifying experience, Ryan Donnelly, the COO of the wireless design firm Deep Blue Communications, will provide an overview of the Wi-Fi ecosystem within the racing industry currently and in the future, describing the numerous and varied functions of wireless in a racetrack or wagering environment.

Monmouth Park's vice president of racing Bill Knauf will recount his track's use of the Deep Blue system installed this year and future plans for increased use.

The afternoon will conslude with specific advice on building a successful social media strategy by Rob Key, the CEO of Converseon, and Rick Liebling, a director for Young & Rubicam (Y&R) Advertising. Key has been engaged by the United States Trotting Association this year as Converseon uses its proprietary technology to help the harness racing industry build an "end-to-end" social media strategy.

Liebling is the Creative Culturalist at Y&R, working across multiple teams and disciplines to help clients understand the changing nature of consumer behavior and how brands and consumers create and interact with culture.

Other topics to be discussed during the Oct. 7-9 conference will include:
• An update of the TRPB Tote Security Initiative
• New wagering mixes
• State tax policies for ADWs
• Video production of races
• Impact of declining horse population and countermeasures