by Christy Lamagna, CMP, CMM, CTSM
• Events, casinos, and raceways: the ultimate trifecta
• Race ahead for unforgettable events
• Teambuilders to horse around about
Smart planners know that holding an event at a casino has a host of built-in benefits, ranging from multiple dining outlets to a myriad of entertainment both on and off the gaming floor. Strategic planners, however, know that booking a raceway casino for their events raises the bar considerably higher.
While you may not be familiar with horse racing, it doesn’t take long to understand why it’s so popular. The experience has a sound and tempo unto itself making it one of the greatest bangs for the adrenaline buck. The race is lightning-quick, the action intense and the ‘rules’ fairly simple, making it a game many can enjoy. The initial shot is fired, the gates open and the room is full of people yelling out names of horses that are almost as interesting as the race itself. The fervor pitch reaching a crescendo in the final moments of the race is such a cacophony of shouts and cheers that it seems the entire audience may have a simultaneous heart attack.
Throughout the race, jumping up and down, which is normally reserved for people under the age of nine or ten is suddenly en vogue. The crowd leans in as the horses fly by, urging on their favorite, as if the sheer force of their bellowing cheers alone can propel their horse forward by a nose. At the end of a race, people spontaneously hug, whoops of glee fill the stadium, tickets are thrown into the air and a collective exhale is released.
Think about how fantastic it would be to bring that kind of energy and shared excitement into your next meeting. If you’re wondering how to supercharge your attendees, it’s as easy as booking a hybrid event space. Choosing a casino/racetrack facility will bring you the aforementioned excitement and pair it with all the other offerings casinos deal out to their guests.
Look no further than twenty minutes from downtown Minneapolis for one such venue. Running Aces Casino and Racetrack’s Director of Marketing, Aaron Bedessum, spoke to Midwest Meetings about the advantages of adding a racetrack to a program of any size or type. “Races are perfect for class reunions or company parties. They provide a backdrop and mutual experience as great conversation starters,” Bedessum said.
If the idea of adding a raceway to your event repertoire intrigues you but a lack of knowledge of the sport intimidates you, have no fear. Running Aces offers guests a ‘Wagering 101’ tutorial prior to the start of the race. Suddenly ‘Win/Place or Show’ has meaning and ‘Superfecta,’ an exciting significance to matters at hand. Bedessum shared, “Many people come and enjoy the races, but we want to get more people involved in wagering because it adds to the excitement when you are cheering for your horse to win.”
For groups of 24 or less, consider a SkyBox for a VIP experience. Food, drinks, and a great view in a private setting are a winning combination. For added ‘umph,’ add to that a race named after your group and you have a surefire hit on your hands.
Depending on budget and availability, tours of the stables and a meeting with the trainer can be arranged. Teambuilding both formal and informal can be easily tied into the racing theme making it not just an activity but a useful tool to achieve potential meeting goals.
For a more up close and personal view of the action, Bedessum recommends taking a ride for yourself. During these relatively short harness races, horses run around the track one and a half times pulling a two wheeled cart called a ‘sulky’ behind them. Running Aces often allows guests to ride around the track in between races or you could sit in the back of the starter car, guests get a one-of-a-kind view with the horses racing after them.
After the excitement, guests can head back to the never ending action going on inside the casino. The built in options of live entertainment, traditional slots, poker, table games, and an assortment of restaurants offer something for everyone.
Many venues have concerts or other large scale, live entertainment offerings on the raceways in the evenings, adding even more options. After the racing season, which runs from May through September, many venues open the betting floor for functions, allowing for additional event space.
When looking for value, variety, and fun, strategic planners know that hybrid event spaces win by a mile.
Take our quiz to see what names are real and which are us just horsing around.
2. Tabasco Cat
4. Thunder Gulch
5. Roo Baby
6. Curse Reversed
7. Hoof Harted
When Christy joined the meetings industry 25 years ago, event planning was more of a concept than a recognized profession. In the ensuing two and a half decades, she proudly participated in its evolution. Christy has earned multiple certifications, writes thought-provoking articles and teaches strategic planning at the University level. Christy’s latest mission is to bring the industry and the talented professionals who share her passion for strategic planning the respect they deserve.