Horse Sport Ireland International Marketing Symposium – A sell out event
- 10 March 2017, 16:14
The inaugural Horse Sport Ireland International Marketing Symposium attracted a sell-out audience to the Hodson Bay Hotel in Athlone on Thursday (March 9th).
Proceedings began with an opening address by Horse Sport Ireland Director of International Marketing, Elaine Hatton, and she outlined the feedback she has received when travelling abroad, including on a recent trade mission to the Gulf States with The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, TD.
“The clear message from each country is that there is a demand for Irish horses that are produced, packaged and marketed correctly. Temperament followed by confirmation and riding standard where the three main criteria in buying a horse. There is a resounding desire for the Irish horse globally. Our International riders are brilliant ambassadors and other countries want to send their children and young riders here to learn from our professional HSI coaches.
Elaine Hatton also reminded everyone that herself and her team in the HSI marketing department are there to help.”Our team are available throughout the year. We are all approachable, attending many shows and events nationally, and we are here to help you do business.”
The opening panel discussion, chaired by RTE award winning journalist Suzanne Campbell (pictured left), was titled “Moving our industry forward through marketing” and concentrated on how riders, breeders and show organizers, can market themselves more effectively in a changing global marketplace..
Nina Barbour, President of Bolesworth and Liverpool International, had this advice to show and event organizers in Ireland,
“You have to look at the way the sport has changed in the last 10 years. We are losing a lot of mid-level riders to the foreign sunshine tours. To retain these riders at home, prizemoney is the driving force, footing has to be right – especially when you consider the value of these horses. We also need more international shows and tours at home. They are very important to increase the value of horses.”
Diarmuid Byrne, Managing Director of EquiRatings commented,
“We have huge opportunity in Eventing to use data to analyze performance. If you look at top level Rugby you will see teams of people on laptops analyzing stats during and after the game. The stats prove that the type of horse needed in Eventing has changed so much with increasing importance on dressage. To come from outside of top 10 after dressage is almost impossible.
Aisling Byrne, Managing Director or Journey Through Ireland and Amateur Show Jumper said, ” If you have positive reviews from people on the product or service you are offering make sure to use them on your website and social media. Take for example Trip Advisor, people like reading the reviews and they believe it.”
British International event rider Ben Hobday spoke about the importance of social media for riders to raise their profile and to make money.
“I initially started using social media for fun, but now I use social media to build my brand which I can then use to sell myself to sponsors. My facebook page has reached out to 10 million people in one year. I showed the stats to a potential sponsor and it helped pay for my new arena. Some events, even some the larger ones, need to treat owners better. If you are a wealthy person and you own an Event horse you are not doing it to make money. But if you are well looked after you will spend more. Events also need to improve on their internet access, its free marketing for the show to have people on social media during the event.
Senior Editor of Noelle Floyd.com, journalist and photographer Erin Gilmore, spoke about her impressions of Ireland as an American, “I am a big fan of the RDS. I go to a lot of five-star shows around the world and Dublin is one of the best. The smaller shows are now more on my radar when I see Irish riders coming up through the system. My advice to all shows is that they need to reach out and connect with the media and provide good info, on time, with good quality photos. My first impression of a place or event is from the photographs, they are so important. Facebook is the dominant force on social media followed by Instagrab and twitter. Social media is your proof that you are out-there and current – your most important tool and free marketing.
Nina Barbour agreed, “Facebook is replacing google. We spend a huge amount of our adverting budget on it,” she said.
Erin Gilmore offered this advice to people in the industry who are not online, “Pay someone to get you online.”
The second panel discussion, chaired by agent, producer and coach Barry O’Connor, was titled Reaching the Global Market Place, and gave a deeper insight into how breeders can improve what they breed, how to sell their stock and also the range of shared options to look into, such as two people sharing a mare and taking it in turns to breed from her, or by offering a share in a young horse to a rider in order to reduce training fees.
International Owner and Thoroughbred Racehorse Trainer Jim Bolger offered an insightful comparison between racing and the Sport Horse Industry and said, “Prize money is the lifeblood of racing. The Sport Horse Industry needs a minimum of €20 Million a year from Government. They have to deal with one organization, not several different groups, Horse Sport Ireland is the right model for this.”
When asked, what is a good mare? Bolger replied, “It has to breed good conformation, or small fault I can live with. The stallion covering the dam, the second dam and the third dam – if any of those stallions are a bad stallion to me, I wont buy the mare.
He also offered this advice “Unless you are an absolute genius you have to work your butt off”
Koen Terryn, CEO and founder of Hippomundo said, “Everything starts with a correct foal. For this you must start with blacktype mare, by that I mean you must have performance record at 1m45 or above not just in the mare but also back the lines.”
US-based Event Rider Tim Bourke added, “You have to look at the market and breed or buy for that market. The most important thing is temperament and I find the Irish temperament better. The cost of producing a horse is here in Ireland is far cheaper than the USA. To have a horse in training in US costs from 40 to 70 dollars per day.
International Show Jumper, Breeder, and former Olympian Marion Hughes said,
“You can’t be afraid of change, the sport is moving all the time, if we stay the same its not good. Get your young horses x-rays done before you show them to clients. If they have something like bone chips you can get them removed then to clear it up – take control of the situation yourself.”
Although Hughes told of how one failed vetting turned out to be a blessing with her world famous multiple winning grey mare Flo Jo, “I sold Flo Jo for 3500 pounds as a three year old but got her back because she didn’t pass the vet.” horses need to be brought along slowly. Don’t think about making a fast buck”
“People are crying out for good people to work in this industry”, Hughes added.
Galway-born Enda Carroll, Managing Director of Ashford Farm said, “We are just starting into our breeding programme. We buy about 10 foals a year and breed about 10. We have a guy in Germany who makes a really good living looking after foals for people. He charges €175 euro per month to look after a mare or foal all year round including transport to vets for scanning etc.”
Koen Terryn agreed, “I see an opportunity for people in Ireland to rear foals for people from Ireland and Europe”
Enda Carroll offered this advice when trying to sell your horse, “Don’t ever be frightened to phone a dealer or agent and tell them about your animal. Be positive, send them videos, if you can’t do video’s yourself, pay someone to do it.”
Barry O’Connor concluded, “We should focus more on the positives than negatives in the Sport Horse Industry.”