One Year Later: Bryan Dygert on WestWorld of Scottsdale & Future of The Equestrian Industry

June 9, 2015

We sat down with Brian Dygert, General Manager of award-winning equestrian facility WestWorld of Scottsdale, to pick his brain about the evolution of the equestrian experience, the market and shaping the region for the better with the recent upgrades. Dygert is one of the most experienced managers of equestrian facilities in the nation and shared his wealth of knowledge about the industry and the keys to WestWorld’s success.

POPULOUS: What do people want in equestrian facilities? 

BRIAN DYGERT: Our guests expect a premier experience.  We host more than 90 events in 247 days at WestWorld of Scottsdale … and we strive to maintain our reputation as a nationally recognized facility with each and every one by focusing on well-maintained grounds that offer clean facilities for them and their horses, as well as secure parking to ensure their valuables are safe. In addition to making our facilities accommodating, visitors expect our staff to be knowledgeable, helpful and courteous. They visit for a short period of time and the interactions people have in our facilities and with our staff matter. They shape what people think of our facility and our city so we focused on creating a place people will want to be – as a spectator, competitor and a resident.

POPULOUS: What draws people to your facility?

BRIAN DYGERT: Not only do our facilities offer premier amenities, we also have the advantage of being located in an amazing destination. We have more than 386 acres of desert with great views of the McDowell Mountains and proximity to world-class shopping, dining, hotels and an art scene that has something for everyone.  But at the end of the day, what really draws people to WestWorld are the events. We have a talented and dedicated group of people who attract major events to our facilities like the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show.  This event and others have become nationally recognized and are some of our biggest draws to our facilities. Those events have also been the impetus for us to keep our facilities in tip top condition and continuously improve the experience.

POPULOUS: What impact do facilities have on your marketing efforts? What features help you sell the destination and experience?   

BRIAN DYGERT: The well-planned infrastructure and flexibility of our facilities allows us to attract a wide-variety of events while still offering competitive pricing.  We’re able to offer an expo hall with features that can accommodate equestrian and non-equestrian events.  The facility is connected to the arena creating a multi-use venue encompassing more than 280,000 square feet of continuous, climate-controlled event space capable of hosting nearly any event imaginable.  The facilities earned recognition from the Arizona Public Works Association as the 2014 Project of the Year in the $25-75 million category.

POPULOUS: How does the design of the Tony Nelssen Equestrian Center impact the experience? 
BRIAN DYGERT:During the hot summer days visitors are able to experience events in comfort thanks to the climate controlled environment.  Featuring dual climate control/natural ventilation system, the only of its kind in the country, the venue can circulate 100 percent fresh air to maximize air quality or mixed air depending on the type of even being held.  The comfort is also extended to places like the elevated party suites at each end and the new concessions.  Equestrians can also experience the new indoor warm-up/staging ring at the east end that is connected to the entire complex that was previously an open-air space.

POPULOUS: It’s been a year since the facility opened…talk about how the Tony Nelssen Equestrian Center impacts the community. 

BRIAN DYGERT: Since opening, the Tony Nelssen Equestrian Center has done great things for the community.  We have been able to attract more events to our facilities and that benefits the community.  People travel to Scottsdale to attend and participate in events.  Local residents have also found new interest in the horse show community because of the enhanced facilities. And it’s always great to get local residents involved in what’s going on in their community.  With hope, they will tell others, and as a result, interest in our events will continue to grow.

POPULOUS: What does the equestrian industry look like 10 years from now?     

BRIAN DYGERT: The 21st century horse show community has to change in the next 10 years.  Now what these changes looks like is still unclear, but my prediction is that the industry will be very different or will be much smaller.  Regardless, one thing is certain – the modern horse show industry must attract the next generation in order to remain relevant.  Currently, those involved in agriculture and family farms is shrinking.  We are seeing fewer participants from the next generation involved in livestock, therefore, they don’t ever become involved in the horse show industry. As the main market place of the industry, the horse show needs to reinvent itself to appeal to the next generation.  Without participation from the next generation, we can’t expect to grow the industry.

Read more about WestWorld of Scottsdale and the recently completed renovations by Populous by clicking here.


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