Recently thumbing through a 2015 Gulfstream Park program, I came across a list of the company’s officers and operating officials.  The job titles vividly provide an example of why horse racing is in so much trouble at the retail level.

Listed under “Gulfstream Park Racing Association Inc. Officers” were the following five positions:  CEO; President; VP, Operations; Secretary; and Director, Finance.

Note the glaring omission—nobody mentioned for sales and marketing.

Listed under “Operating Officials” were President and staff positions, such as track handicapper, director of human resources, and track superintendent.  Three vice presidents were identified:  Vice President, Racing & General Manager; Vice President, Administration; and Vice President, Communications/Media.

Again, the glaring omissions:  sales is not included at all and there is no one in marketing at the rank of vice president.

Nowhere in the entire enumeration of personnel titles did the word “sales” appear.  The only reference to marketing was “Director, Marketing.”

Implausibly, the person in charge of communications and media holds the title of vice president but the chief marketing executive does not.  One can make a strong case that, in fact, communications and media should report to marketing because advertising is a key marketing function for a consumer-products company.

The slight of sales and marketing demonstrate how–at a premier racetrack company–the business functions responsible for bringing in customers are either not deemed important enough to be mentioned at all (sales) or are relegated to a subordinate role (marketing) below the rank of vice president.

This is more than semantics.  Position titles indicate the importance that a company attaches to business activities.

In an industry in which revenues (pari-mutuel handle) have been in a long-term secular decline, sales and marketing should be front and center and be staffed with the most capable people possible.  A company can’t “administrate” or “manage” or “engineer” itself out of a deteriorating commercial situation.  The only way out is via skillful marketing (such as product development) and savvy/aggressive sales efforts to get customers.

Little wonder that racing’s customer base and pari-mutuel handle are shrinking.

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