Horse racing is about as primitive a sport as you could imagine. A group of thoroughbreds is cut loose to run around a typically oval track. The fastest horse to complete the course wins. This format has worked unaltered for centuries.

So, why are horse racing venues so busy integrating the latest technology? The answer has everything to do with fan experience and engagement. The horse racing industry has traditionally fallen behind other sports in efforts to embrace stand-filling tech. That’s quickly changing; top racecourses nowadays are just as connected as other sports venues.

With Melbourne’s Spring Racing Carnival right around the corner, we decided to look at how three of the city’s major racecourses leverage technology to bring patrons through the gates.

Moonee Valley’s Widespread Social Media Presence 

Social media plays a big role in filling the stands at Moonee Valley Racecourse, six kilometers north of Melbourne’s central business district. Known affectionately to the locals as “The Valley,” the track’s media team maintains active Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts. Fans following The Valley on social media are greeted with posts promoting upcoming races and events and a range of exclusive content from inside the venue. The social media team often engages with followers who leave post comments, providing helpful information or entertaining dialog.

Social media is also perfect for showcasing The Valley’s posh amenities. Followers checking the venue’s social media channels for race information inevitably learn about the Octagonal Lounge and new Victorian Wine Bar. Word spreads among potential visitors that The Valley is more than a racecourse – t’s a hub of entertainment, dining, and socializing.

Through social media, Moonee Valley followers gain valuable familiarity with the venue. By the time patrons walk through the gate, even on a first trip to the course, there’s a sense of visiting an old friend.

Mobile App Offers Concierge Service at Flemington 

Flemington Racecourse, situated alongside Melbourne’s Maribyrnong River, has found a way to meld human attendants and a digital concierge service to provide patrons with a winning fan experience. With the Flemington Raceday Guide mobile app, visitors can obtain venue navigation maps, race schedules and fields, a wagering platform, streaming content, and other handy features.

Super Saturday at Flemington racecourse

The app bolsters concierge services already offered by human attendants at Flemington. This way, patrons have a choice of relying on the convenience of the app or the personal touch of a live employee for assistance. This approach makes sense, while concierges are at a low-risk of being automated out of existence, their job becomes easier when supplemented by technology.

The app also makes it easy for patrons to plan their day at Flemington. With the planner feature, app users can select venue events from Flemington’s daily calendar and add them to a personalized schedule. It’s a great way for groups to facilitate meet up times and places at points throughout the venue.

Flemington Raceday Guide is available for Android and iOS mobile devices.

Super Screen Delivers the Infotainment at Caulfield

Fan-engaging tech is very much on display at Caulfield Racecourse in Melbourne’s south-eastern suburbs. The venue, where Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival-goers weigh races like the Caulfield Cup and Caulfield Guineas, installed a giant 319 m² Mitsubishi display screen in 2015. Dubbed the “super screen,” this one-of-a-kind display is a $3.65 million investment in the ultimate optics experience.  The system’s infotainment capabilities include drone footage and GPS data captured from above Caulfield, giving fans a unique birds-eye perspective into race proceedings.

The Superscreen also delivers social media feeds, betting information, sponsor messaging, and other crowd engagement content. A split-screen mode broadcasts popular live sports events, such as cricket and Australian Football League contests. This allows spectators to simultaneously watch the horse races at Caulfield while keeping tabs on the day’s other sporting events.

Social media, Infotainment integration, and mobile concierge are just a few ways that Melbourne’s racecourses are winning over patrons. The experience at Moonee Valley, Flemington, and Caulfied is better than ever thanks to fan-friendly technology – great news as the Spring Racing Carnival strives to attract new generations of interested race watchers.