Melbourne Cup Day. The race that stops the nation. Workplaces stop, pubs pause and televisions across the country are tuned to the broadcast. All except for the televisions at the Brisbane Race Club.
For the first Tuesday in November, someone forgot to order the backup generator, then a power fault plunged Eagle Farm into darkness just moments before the running of Flemington’s Race 7, so no one saw the Cup. Without power for more than an hour, patrons were forced to watch the main race on their phones, while some abandoned the course for the nearby local bowls club to see how their bets fared.
The power outage stopped all racing on the site, took out the catering and betting systems, preventing some punters from placing bets on the main and following races – the overall estimated cost to the Brisbane Racing Club – around $300K. An ongoing investigation into the incident has already resulted in one resignation, and highlights the importance of ensuring that the event contingencies, which have been planned for, are actually in place.
A backup generator is part of the standard event plans for the Brisbane Racing Club, but was not in place for the Cup, arguably when the ability show the broadcast is the most important part of the overall event.
Event specific contingencies, tailored to the most important part of the event or given an order of priority, must also be considered, this particular critical business function has proven a high profile reputational risk, which then requires a plan to address the failure, followed by a crisis management plan for the effect on the brand.
Just FYI for our Brisbane Racing Club punters, Almandin won the race by a neck.