Monday, March 31, 2014

“It’s not so much destination marketing we need but destination improvement!”

Gurnites can see the Highland Council press release that was published in advance of today’s ward forum here. Liz is quoted:  “This is an open invitation for all to attend the Tourism Forum. As we look at the success of Inverness and Loch Ness Tourism businesses voting to create the first Tourism Business Improvement District (T BID) in the UK – this is an exciting opportunity for people in Nairn to have their say on how we can improve our future tourism economy.”

This observer had heard grumbles beforehand that having a ward forum meeting at 3 in the afternoon instead of the traditional evening event  would exclude many people who would be working. One shopkeeper even told the meeting that she had had to pay someone else to look after her shop so she could attend. This observer arrived late so missed most of a Council powerpoint presentation and one from Rosemary Young too but arrived just as she delivered her punch line: “It’s not so much  destination marketing we need but destination improvement!” She attributed that phrase to Visit webmaster Iain Fairweather. Rosemary concluded:

“We don’t really want a pot of gold to get this right, we need perseverance and dedication and just keep doing what we are doing because we are actually doing quite a good job.”

There followed a powerpoint presentation by the high heid yin of the Cairngorm Partnership which gave a good explanation of how they market their tourist product; the way customers access information on line these days featured – could the days of the conventional desktop webpage  be numbered as more and more people turn to phones and tablets to research their holidays? It was fascinating stuff but Alan Rankin, Chief Executive of the Cairngorm Business Partnership, pointed to uncertainties on the funding horizon that would affect his organisation soon. 

There was then a lengthy conversation with contributions from the public benches. Some wished to air grievances gently, others were more forceful. 

Michael Green was a proponent of the BID option at the meeting but there were dire warnings from Sheena Baker of how a similar set up in Elgin was faring , although she admitted that the Inverness one was doing very well.  There were questions of how the mechanics of a BID would work and how businesses would pay and how much. It was quite complicated stuff at times and there was resistance in the air to a possible BID attempt. What could be done instead to galvanise the tourism and business community to effectively market Nairn was left hanging really despite a Council mannie having given a list of options earlier. 

The meeting seemed to be ending in genteel disarray. Liz had mentioned the possibility of restarting the Nairnshire Partnership and trying to get marketing funding via that mechanism. If it was to be the outcome it didn’t seem to be clear as some of those present started to leave. It was left to River CC’s Stephanie Whittaker to articulate what was probably the essence of the room's communal ether, she said:

 “We need to take something forward away from this meeting otherwise we have wasted 2 hours sitting here.”

Liz referred to a Nairnshire Partnership meeting again. There were calls for a more general meeting and Stephanie Whitaker asked Michael Green if he would take on setting up a meeting and he replied positively. Could it be that this meeting had parallel outcomes? It will be interesting to see the official minutes. 


Anonymous said...

We're paying some people highly to move hot air around at these meetings and once again to look at business models you'd expect a positive outcome from such events, and not just an agreement to hold further meetings.
A lot of people attending today had business experience and ideas that go along with that. It just needed the chair to coordinate and steer those present so that we had an actual outcome and didn't come away feeling that once again we'd been at a talking shop
I've paid for consultants and got results. My business rates and council tax go towards ward forums, why did most of us come away with the feeling Nairn will get nothing from this as yet. Maybe the next meeting or the one after, is this really the best that can be done for Nairn?

meetandgreet said...

meetings about meetings about meetings

Anonymous said...

Maybe we could have a few more highly paid officials through for another powerpoint presentation?

Anonymous said...

Anon @6.41, Yaaaayh, let's have another powerpoint presentation! It's such a shame that most of the modern 'professionals' don't know how to do a presentation, instead of keeping it brief and to the point, too many people just like to hear the sound of their own voices. Death by powerpoint, snoozzzzzzzzzz.