The Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials attracts thousands of spectators – it is known as one of the largest sporting events in the UK. Come rain or shine they turn up every year.
So what is it exactly that brings them to this small Gloucestershire village, not only from all corners of the UK but increasingly from abroad as well?
Extraordinarily a short and admittedly unscientific exercise for The Derby House Post has revealed one single reason. Most of those asked had been coming for years and all cited the term ‘tradition’ or ‘habit.’
Not one of those polled would even dream of not coming – if you want ‘brand loyalty’ clearly this event has it in bucket loads – and it is passed down from generation to generation. Maybe it should do corporate training exercises in the field?
Sarah and Jo from Monmouth have been coming together every year since they were 14 – they now have teenage daughters. What brings them each year? “The shopping, the horses, Mary King,” says Jo (in that order) as they pondered where to stop for lunch.
“We used to bring the children on cross country day but we now prefer to come on our own on dressage Friday and we do a bit of everything. It’s always a good day out and we’ve never had a bad day whatever the weather.”
Local visitor Abigail from Wickwar has been every year for the last 30 years. She first came as an eight-year-old with her parents who also come as well.
“It’s a family tradition,” said Abigail. “We all come for three days, whatever the weather. And it’s all lovely and just brilliant.”
Long-time friends Denise and Clare, one from Monmouth and one from Maidenhead, began their Badminton visit on Wednesday and are here for the full five days – sometimes camping as well.
“We wouldn’t miss it,” says Denise who first came as a 12-year-old.
Gina and Sarah from East Sussex not only wouldn’t miss it but have already booked their B&B in Malmesbury for next year. They too come together every year for three days and this year the event has a bonus in that two of their friends daughters – Gemma Tattersall and Emily Llewellyn – are riding in the event.
“It’s a Mum’s weekend away,” says Gina, as the pair left to venture on a shopping break from dressage. In common with the other visitors polled part of the attraction is the familiarity and ritual of the event.
“We shop, do dressage and tomorrow will walk the cross country and watch two riders at every fence,” says Gina who enjoys the ambience of the site. “Everyone is so friendly and the event as whole is so well run.”
So there you have it. If you want to create a successful event there are seemingly few rules: stick to the same timetable, make it family friendly and employ friendly staff with good organisational ability.