Amadeus and Stratford Racecourse

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Set in the heart of Shakespeare Country, Stratford Racecourse is considered one of the country’s leading independent small jumps racecourses. Events by Amadeus, part of the NEC Group, is proud to be the sole caterer for this vibrant venue and together, the partnership has delivered a series of winning results.

Stratford Racecourse has long had a winning reputation for its high standards of hospitality, so finding a caterer to continue and enhance this legacy was incredibly important to the team led by Racecourse Managing Director Ilona Barnett. The venue’s guests expect to enjoy high-quality hospitality during their visit, whether attending one of our 17 thrilling race meets throughout the year, experiencing corporate hospitality or outdoor events.  

With over 40 years of experience in event catering and more than 650 industry awards, Events by Amadeus brings an in-depth understanding of the complexities of operating at outdoor sporting events to the partnership. The team are well-versed in the art of superior conference and banqueting catering, with a proven ability to remain agile and continually innovate, allowing the team to offer tailored menus based on specific guest and delegate profiles.

Events by Amadeus had the recipe for success, thanks to the business’ experience of the complexities when operating at outdoor sporting events, which includes navigating fluctuating visitor numbers and unpredictable weather. They pride themselves on adapting its retail strategies to meet these challenges and upholding this prestigious venue’s status as the place to experience excellent hospitality on both race and non-race days.

With a limited time frame from the appointment and the offering going live in the venue, the team swiftly mobilised plans to transform the catering facilities, introduce well-known suppliers and improve return to the client.

With an immediate focus on enhancing in-venue customer experience, Events by Amadeus gave Stratford Racecourse’s catering facilities a distinct identity through exciting and modern branding. This transformation included the introduction of Amadeus’ own retail catering labelling and concepts.

Events by Amadeus further enhanced the food and beverage offer through new sponsorship partnerships, bringing on board well-known high-street brands and developing the premium product offering. The team have recently launched a premium Lanson’s Champagne bar for those wanting to add extra sparkle to their race day. Several inside bars were also fully invigorated from aspirational beverage providers such as Prava and Stowford Press to showcase the versatile offering available at the racecourse.

To improve customer experience and efficiency even further, the team changed the layout of bar area. They expertly modelled the retail principles on its own arena venues – Resorts World Arena and Utilita Arena Birmingham, part of the NEC Group – where expert staff regularly manage high visitor volumes and peaks in footfall. These changes included moving the bar units to the back of each space to support queue management, installing T bars for multi-tap dispensing and offering two-pint glasses to reduce the number of times customers visit the bar. Hawker trays, beer bugs and mobile bars units are rolled out for busy events, meaning customers spend less time queuing and more time watching the exciting sporting action.

Further improving the speed of service, Events by Amadeus activated 50% more tills and introduced integrated chip and pin devices. This solution reduced every customer transaction by approximately 20 seconds and ran parallel to the launch of a cashless campaign. Whilst card transactions have now immensely overtaken cash payments (80%-20%), the racecourse still accepts cash to provide ease and choice for racegoers.

Following a quicker speed of service and ‘Service that Sells’ initiatives, the financial results exemplify the service delivered by Events by Amadeus at the venue. The total income including gross concession takings has increased by 10.9% (£61k), while spend per transaction has increased by 17% to £12.15.

Each hospitality area was redecorated and refreshed with new furniture to ensure the environment reflects a premium look and feel. In addition, guests can now quickly locate their preferred hospitality area thanks to efficient new wayfinding and signage. Events by Amadeus and Stratford Racecourse equally invested capital when the contract began to ensure all the above improvements were made before the start of the 2018 season.

As well as providing guests with new hospitality areas and improved service, the team’s focus has remained on delivering a wide choice of high-quality catering options across the entire course, from buffets, afternoon team and seated fine dining at the Gallery Restaurant and Paddock Pavilion.

In addition, the team operates the numerous tempting food outlets located around the racecourse. With a focus on sustainability, local sourcing is also a vital part of Event by Amadeus’ ethos and 80% of food and beverage suppliers are within a 30-mile radius of the racecourse. This ensures that the food crafted by its team of experts is fresh and environmentally friendly, with reduced food miles, emissions, and carbon footprint.

The measures and innovations introduced are projected to deliver over 300% return on investment over the contract, while the team has seen takings double (+49%) year on year. The wider industry has also celebrated the partnership, with Events by Amadeus winning the ‘Best New Catering Concept’ award at the 2019 National Racecourse Catering Awards.

The LiveTourism Racecourse Visit Report (July 2022), marked ‘catering’ highly at a score of 76%, with ‘queue management’ and ‘service - courtesy and friendliness’ scoring 4 and 4.5 out of 5 respectively.  

Events by Amadeus and Stratford Racecourse has also achieved the Racehorses Owners Association (ROA) accreditation for the Owners & Trainers Lounge. The accreditation independently reviews and assess’ the owner’s race day experience against a defined set of criteria, working with AA Hospitality Services to provide a fair and independent assessment.

With 60 courses across the UK currently participating in the scheme, Stratford Racecourse was ranked 12th, achieving the ‘ROA Gold Standard’ in 2022.

Ilona Barnett, Stratford Racecourse Managing Director said: “We are continually impressed by Events by Amadeus’ innovative menus and retail concepts which take our food and beverage offering to the next level for our customers and is widely recognised, awarded and accredited in our industry.”

As a result of the close working relationship, the team has secured a continued commitment and investment from Stratford Racecourse to provide high-quality catering options across the whole racecourse until 2028.