SYDNEY: The Australian Turf Club found huge success with Sydney millennials by modernising their customer experience and social media strategy.

"We were facing declining crowds," Tony Partridge, chief operating officer of the Australian Turf Club (ATC) told the Mumbrella Sports Marketing Summit. "We needed to do something."

With an average membership age of 52, the Australian Turf Club (ATC) – which runs several iconic racing events – depended on bringing in a younger audience to secure the future of the industry. But with an old-school brand, serious upgrades were needed to engage young punters in a crowded lifestyle market. (For more, read Warc's exclusive report: How the Australian Turf Club used Instagram, influencers and CX to attract millennials.)

The club discovered a wealth of insights that could lure young people to the races, such as their preference for experiences over products, a love of dressing up and the opportunity to create social media-worthy moments.

"If you can't post the experience it's probably not worth going," said Partridge.

"For us, Instagram was the tool," he added. "That was where they wanted to play. If you look at Twitter, it's full of racing industry talk, but not a lot of images of young customers having a good time."

The social media focus was underpinned by a commitment to a modernised customer experience which included making card payment facilities available at events as millennials were less likely to carry cash. ATC's venues were previously cash only, with card transactions unavailable.

"What we knew about millennials is that they bring their own technology and they just expect it all to work," said Partridge.

ATC saw an almost immediate return on investment. With 48% of all purchases at the race venue now made via card, the wealth of data means the organisation can see exactly who its customers are, even more so than if it was relying on ticket sales alone.

"We're now seeing young high-income singles delivering 40% of retail value, and making up 37% of the crowd," Partridge reported.

Data sourced from Warc