Events - 05.06.2017 - 00:00 

Knowledge Café in St.Gallen: “CSIO is for high heels and rubber boots.”

What is behind the CSIO St.Gallen international equestrian sporting event? Titus Guldimann, Vice President of the St.Gallen Pedagogical College, speaks with guests as part of the Knowledge Café at the Textile Museum about the importance of the event and possible future developments.

6 June 2017. “With around 450 media mentions per year, the CSIO is broadcast far beyond Switzerland’s borders”, says Dr Titus Guldimann in his introduction to the panel discussion. The guests include former show jumper Martin Fuchs, CSIO President Nayla Stössel and the Head of Location Promotion for the city of St.Gallen, Isabel Schorer. To open the that talk, Guldimann addresses the importance of the event – who benefits? “The CSIO benefits all of Eastern Switzerland”, says Isabel Schorer. From a marketing point of view, an event like this helps to address many stakeholder groups at once and generate significant media presence.

President Stössel, who holds a volunteer position, stresses the many resources that are required: “I truly enjoy the CSIO. But there’s a lot of hard work that goes into it. Without sponsors and our citizen-politician system with its numerous volunteers, it would be impossible. For Markus Fuchs, one of Switzerland’s most successful pro riders, the CSIO also has a personal meaning: “Performing in front of audiences in my homeland has always been something special. And besides that, it’s one of the best 5-star tournaments in the world.”

For fans and family – not enough young people

What makes the local CSIO different from others? President Stössel highlights two things: “One aspect is that we benefit from the historical background. Another is that there’s almost a family atmosphere at the CSIO.” She says that it is a certain sense of commitment that keeps many people coming back. “And it's an event for everyone – for high heels and rubber boots”, says Stössel. The typical CSIO guests are equestrian sport fans, entrepreneurs and people who come by spontaneously in their free time.

“There aren’t enough 18- to 30-year-olds”, says Moderator Guldimann. From a marketing point of view, Isabel Schorer questions whether it is even advisable to try to draw this group, because they do not spend very much money. In addition, the level of competition from the many other events is very high. “It’s the mixture of elite and everyday that makes the CSIO so unique.” Stössel agrees, but adds that she is open to proposals for how to draw young people to the CSIO. “So far, we haven’t taken any intentional measures toward that end.” Titus Guldimann is on board, and floats the idea of creating an additional venue to present young local riders. Markus Fuchs likes the idea, but he does not want to overload the programme. Nayla Stössel says, “There are possibilities. Initial discussions are already underway.” However, she could not provide more specific information at this point.

Sponsoring is a challenge

One of the evening’s important themes was financing for the CSIO. Moderator Guldimann suggests that it will become increasingly difficult to find sponsorship money. “It's true”, says Isabel Schorer, “that things have changed a lot in recent years. Many people are anxious about the future, so they’re saving their money.” And one of the first places they cut back is sponsoring. CSIO President Stössel agrees that it is a challenge to find sponsoring money: “The ticket prices alone are not enough to break even, so we have to find additional funds.”

Raising the prices is not an option, as it would create a danger of becoming too elite. Guldimann wonders why there is only one sponsor from the textiles industry on the list when St.Gallen is a renowned textiles location. Missed opportunity? “We've had many points of contact with textiles companies”, says Stössel, “but they were more about decoration or entertainment.” One reason for a lack of financial sponsoring from this industry is that while companies have their historical roots here, their target groups are often in other countries.

The organizers of the Knowledge Café are the University of St.Gallen, the University of Applied Sciences St.Gallen and the St.Gallen Pedagogical College in cooperation with Foundation Science et Cité.

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