New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) operates three of the largest thoroughbred horse-racing tracks in the U.S., including the Saratoga Race Course in Sarasota Springs, New York. Considered one of the oldest sporting venues in the United States, the Saratoga Race Course can accommodate 50,000 guests, many of them accessing the free guest Wi-Fi network to place online bets, access schedules, etc.
Reliable Free Wi-Fi is Essential to the Fan Experience
While it’s still the action that brings the fans out to an event like horse racing, it has become the status quo for attendees to access Wi-Fi without any hassles. The Wi-Fi network at Saratoga Race Course typically supports 10,000-15,000 devices at each event, creating an extremely challenging wireless environment. In the past when the system was taxed, it could lead to unhappy guests and lost revenue. It was essential that NYRA deliver the best guest Wi-Fi experience possible within a highly-dense environment without sacrificing performance.
We spoke with Bob Hughes, Chief Information & Technology Officer for NYRA about the challenges and opportunities he faced: “We’re extremely proud of our history and traditions, but we were eager to bring the best technology-enabled experiences to our race track. No matter how meticulously every aspect of our venue has been planned to provide an amazing fan experience, the guest Wi-Fi network needed to deliver. It was important for us to update our existing network to provide our guests with a seamless Wi-Fi experience. We also needed to provide user engagement results to help increase our revenue.”
New Wireless Solution Unlocks Further Revenue Opportunities
To meet the growing Wi-Fi demand, NYRA deployed 250 of Ruckus’ Access Points (APs) at Saratoga Race Course. The Wi-Fi network, managed by Deep Blue Communications, an organization that engineers, installs and manages commercial Wi-Fi networks, includes the CaptiveXS Cloud Solution by RaGaPa, a unified cloud management Wi-Fi platform designed to better engage and market to guests of the Saratoga Race Course. Leveraging NYRA’s existing guest Wi-Fi, the RaGaPa solution provides a captive portal with social login, content insertion and user management along with sophisticated user analytics.
As Gagandeep Singh, Chief Executive Officer for RaGaPa, Inc., told us: “NYRA has now a full suite of guest Wi-Fi marketing features available to them through our CaptiveXS Cloud solution – from Captive Portal with social login to our proprietary content insertion solution. With the analytics that NYRA now collects, they have insights into their user base via the solution’s cloud dashboard. They can keep attendees happier and more engaged and grow their revenues with optimized Wi-Fi.”
NYRA’s guest Wi-Fi now provides a more personalized experience, such as assisting customers with schedules and racing alerts. They can target attendees in real-time with personalized promotions, including giveaways at the event, as well as targeted marketing for season passes, loyalty programs and NYRA’s mobile applications, such as NYRA Bets. It also provides the opportunity for NYRA to acquire customer insights, including footfall traffic, consumption trends such as food and beverages, horse betting, etc. Ruckus’ APs support all these applications with lower latency and real-time connectivity.
“NYRA needed a smart, fast and reliable guest Wi-Fi network solution that would provide fans with the best experience and access to all the customer services that Saratoga Race Course provides. It gives them a way to increase customer engagement and maximize revenue opportunities,” according to a conversation we had with Ryan Donnelly, Chief Operating Officer, Deep Blue Communications. “Through our partnership with Ruckus and RaGaPa, we provided a solution that intimately engages with guests and delivers superior access and monetization.”
With their advanced guest Wi-Fi capabilities, NYRA can continue to carry on its tradition of meeting the high standards of its guests in a forward-looking manner, and Ruckus can help them get there.