Racegoers have never had it so good with 34 tracks rated excellent
Racegoers' experience was the best it has ever been in 2017, according to independent assessors, with a record 34 British tracks awarded a rating of 'excellent' by VisitEngland and VisitScotland as part of the annual Quality Assured Racecourse Scheme.
The assessment, which encompasses all aspects of a raceday, from pre-meeting phone calls and social media audits to the racecourse itself and the quality and cleanliness of facilities, also involves an experienced assessor conducting a 'mystery shop' visit, with every British track reaching the 60 per cent pass mark, which equates to 'good'.
In 2016 27 courses achieved an 'excellent' – effectively a score of 80 per cent or higher – and that number increased by 26 per cent last year.
And it is not just at the top end that a day out at the races is improving; the lowest mark achieved of 68 per cent is the highest basement score since the scheme was introduced in 2012.
This year the top 12 tracks were: Aintree, Ascot, Bangor, Beverley, Cheltenham, Chester, Haydock, Newbury, Newmarket July, Ripon, Uttoxeter and York. In Scotland, Ayr and Musselburgh were awarded 5* ratings from VisitScotland.
Number of racecourses with a score of 80% or higher by year
Paul Swain, RCA brand and experience manager, said: "It's fantastic to see the racecourse experience continue to improve across the board at all racecourses in 2017.
"It's testament to the level of investment racecourses have made in facilities and staff training that we're seeing higher levels of quality in terms of customer experience than ever before.
"Racecourses have sustained this drive for improvement and we’re committed to supporting them to continue to raise the bar."
Gordon Smith, national strategic partnerships manager at VisitScotland, said: "I'm delighted to hear quality standards across these racecourses have continued to improve. However, it's about more than just the stars on the sign – it's about the entire visitor experience and driving improvement in that experience throughout the country.
"Consumers want quality and value for money. Star gradings help visitors make informed decisions and select businesses that meet, and exceed, these expectations."
There were also excellence accolades for various courses, with Musselburgh – in turmoil over ownership and governance issues – featuring heavily. Their toilets, along with York, received special mention, as did their information and signage, and the quality of the Cafe 1816.
Aintree, Ascot, Chepstow, Chester, Huntingdon, Newbury, Windsor and Uttoxeter were also commended in the information and signage category, while Ripon's Club Dining Room and York's Knavesmire Court featured in the quality cafe/restaurant and fast-food outlet sections respectively.
Aintree, Bangor, Beverley, Chelmsford, Cheltenham, Newbury and York were highly praised for customer service.
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