It’s the race that stops a nation… and brings most TAB queues to a grinding halt.
Often the focus in venues leading up to ‘cup day’ is on booking numbers, food and beverage offers, sweeps, raffles, fashions on the field, RSA plans, staffing numbers and kitchen cold storage constraints.
With so many things to focus on prior to the day, one major factor can be overlooked – most people in your venue on the day will be betting on the gallops for their first and only time this year. While everyone seems to be a horseracing expert on the first Tuesday in November, almost none of them are experts at filling in a betting slip, resulting in potentially long queues and frustrated punters.
Overall betting on the Melbourne Cup Carnival is forecast to reach $806 million (IBISWorld), and an experienced punter waiting in line behind dozens of novices will feel like they’re waiting for all of those $806 million to be staked before they can get to the terminal.
And while this year, IBISWorld anticipates that 35% of Melbourne Cup Carnival betting will occur over the internet or on smartphones, many of the punters in your venue will be chasing the authentic TAB experience.
Here are some simple tips to keep the queue moving in your venue:
- Roster plenty of staff – seems obvious on cup day but often venues appear to have an army of staff for the function and are just scraping through in the TAB. Have all terminals staffed, plus plenty of bar tenders. Consider stationing a duty manager exclusively inside the sports bar to control operations, monitor RSA and ensure that TAB turnover and bar sales are maximised.
- Get an extra terminal – if this is a new idea to you, you may have missed the boat for 2014 but certainly consider it for next year. There will be some data cabling required and a request to TAB. And it may be advisable to locate this extra terminal in the F&B areas to keep some separation between the ‘once a year crowd’ and the serious punters.
- Offer a ‘next race only’ terminal – set up some cattle rails and station an assertive staff member at the entry point corralling those with $3 mystery bets and $1 each way bets on the cup to the long queue while keeping the way clear for serious betters to get their bets in on time at the ‘next race only’ terminal.
- Check novice punters’ tickets before they get to the TAB – set up a station between your main F&B function and the TAB where punters can have their tickets checked prior to approaching the terminal. This can be a great PR activity to talk to betters who are unsure and put them at ease, you can use it as an opportunity to ‘upsell’ and show novices how to complete more exotic bet types, and you can ensure that every punter who arrives at the terminal has their tickets completed correctly and correct money ready for a speedy transaction.
And while you may read this and feel that it’s adding unnecessary labour costs to what should be a profitable day, consider that cup day is a marquee day for your venue and the opportunity to put on a first class show for your patrons. Those who are enjoying a good all round experience will be more likely to stay at the venue after the race and spend a few bucks than those who’ve spent interminably long periods waiting to ‘get on’.