Saturday, April 22, 2006

Easter Weekend Holiday Trade a Disaster?

A local night club owner in the town has started an e-mail lead debate with councillors about the poor trading conditions over the Easter weekend.

To this point, because I'm so closely involved, I’ve stayed conspicuously silent on the debate despite the Liberals trying to drag me in to it. It's a difficult issue, essentially the complaint being made is that the Council's Tourism and Leisure department has not been pitching our advertising at the correct market.

I have some sympathy with what he is saying. Business was very poor for the night time sector over the Easter weekend. But then, Easter is never a great weekend for us, you tend to get your normal summer holiday weekend trade but spread over four nights rather then two or three.

Business hasn’t been great since last autumn though. This has much more to do with the state of the economy as a whole than with the marketing of the town in my opinion.

That said, for me the town’s marketing is very narrowly focussed and should be the subject of some debate and scrutiny by the Strengthening our Economy Scrutiny and Review Panel. There are many groups that do not seem to be captured by our marketing. Not least amongst these are the residents of the conurbation itself, who are in general reluctant to enter the town centre in the evening because of the perception of it being full of rowdy hen and stag parties.

We heard updates on some excellent initiatives for the evening economy in the town centre at the SRP last Thursday. In the light of these changes there are huge opportunities to alter the towns marketing to attract a much broader range of visitors on one level, and to target market individual communities (not least our own) on another.

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