Norfolk’s international horse trials ‘could be a major opportunity for businesses’
Businesses are being urged to use two upcoming Norfolk events to tap into the growing power of sport as a networking tool.
The Burnham Market International Horse Trials, between April 13 and 15, will be followed by the Houghton International Horse Trials, running from May 25 to 28.
And organisers are reporting growing interest in businesses keen to use the event as a way to promote their brands, entertain clients and get a taste of elite international sport.
Alec Lochore, event director at west Norfolk-based Musketeer Event Management, which is organising the two meetings, said corporate interest in sport as a business tool had grown steadily since the advent of National Lottery funding.
“The success since the Sydney Olympics in 2000, the first after Lottery funding was introduced, has elevated sport and the profile of sportsmen and women across the country,” he said.
“And the opportunity to engage with athletes who are not from football, rugby or cricket is a big appeal. It has built up since we started out in 1999 – people now know Ellie Simmonds, they know Sir Bradley Wiggins, they know William Fox-Pitt.”
Around 10,000 people are expected to attend the Houghton horse trials, with 8,000 at Burnham Market this weekend, with dozens of trade stands also on show – a package Mr Lochore said had an economic impact “well into the hundreds of thousands of pounds”.
At least 19 of the horses that competed at the Rio Olympics last summer have been entered for this weekend’s event, along with many more tipped to be competing at the next games in Tokyo in 2020.
Highlighting the business potential of such events, Mr Lochore pointed to an equivalent event in the Netherlands which doubles as the biggest B2B event in the Benelux countries.
“Internationally, Great Britain is at the forefront of this sport, and Burnham Market and Houghton are both at the forefront of the sport in this country,” said Mr Lochore.
“There are good networking and hospitality opportunities compared to somewhere like Wimbledon or Twickenham.
“There, you have your ticket but you don’t take the dog or the children, but with these events there’s the opportunity to do proper networking in a much more casual environment.”