So I attended the Sales Institute of Ireland Munster Seminar in the Clarion Cork this morning entitled ‘Selling Ourselves, Cork and Ireland’ and I AM BUZZING. For two reasons really;
– One and on a positive note, we have so much happening in Cork now and in the future.
– Two and on a not so positive note, we, the people of the good ole People’s Republic of Cork are not talking about it enough. Why? Because we don’t know half of the things that are happening in our city and county.
This morning we had 6 enthused speakers at the seminar, each with a common goal and theme but with no repetition – thank god (nothing worse!). A great setup actually of 15 minutes each to show us what they are doing for Cork and what the city and county’s unique selling points are.
Fiona Buckley, Head of Operations, Failte Ireland South West kicked off the seminar telling us that Failte Ireland and Tourism Ireland’s brief is to market Ireland with the message of Joyful Emmersion by developing all things around tourism and filling the empty gap of ‘what to do’ in Ireland.
Cork City Harbour and West Cork are on Failte Ireland’s tourist map and they are working with local businesses and organisations to expand on that by supporting them with workshops, helping with sales pitches, improving their web presence and providing mentors for these businesses in the various countries they are targeting such as the UK, Germany and the USA.
At the end of her presentation, Fiona was asked the question – what are Cork’s Unique Selling Points? The answer to this is key in my eyes and we need to starts SHOUTING about it as a community. Cork’s unique selling points are our food, maritime activities, culture and access and city breaks play a strong role in this.
Flowing on from Fiona’s presentation, Pat Ledwidge, Director of Services (Strategic Planning & Economic Development Directorate) Cork City Council, added that we need to ‘sell ourselves’ (as the theme of the seminar says) to the natives of Cork first and then outwards. In other words, no one is more passionate about Cork than the Corkonians/residents of Cork themselves – so get Corkonians to sell Cork. Word of mouth, word of mouse etc.
Pat continued to say that within a 150km radius of Cork we have some of the finest tourism spots in the world – come on guys this is so true – but what are we doing about it? Not enough in my humble opinion!
Another point from Pat was that 1/6 of Cork’s population is students – are you marketing your business to them? If not, how can you do so if they are a target audience for your offering?
Mercy Fenton, Chef/Food Columnist (with Cork’s Evening Echo) and Budding Food Entrepreneur took over from Pat and wowed us all with her enthusiasm for food. As Frankie Whelehan, Managing Director, Choice Hotel Group put it ‘Mercy’s presentation was as fresh as the produce she was talking about’. I couldn’t agree more.
Mercy’s nuggets were that it’s all about what produce is fresh on the day and the quality of that food. If the availability of fresh food changes, then her menu changes – quality doesn’t suffer. She elicited a roomful of smiles when she gloated that if there was a ‘Premiership of Food’, Cork would win! Brilliant! Being a team and working together is what it is all about. See the common theme here…..PEOPLE AS PROMOTERS of what we have to offer. Great presentation Mercy – looking forward to hearing you speak again soon.
Our friend Captain Michael McCarthy, Commercial Manager, Port of Cork impressed upon us the importance of The Port of Cork and that 97% of everything we import and export has come through ports in Ireland. Michael also showed the stats from 2007 where imports accounted for 6.7 billion and exports for over 17.8 billion.
‘Recovery is happening’ he told us and I, for one believe him, check out the cruise schedule for the Port of Cork for example (the only port in the state that has invested in the cruise sector). Over 40% of these passengers have not signed up to specific tours, so local businesses, pubs, clubs etc – why not get in there and market to them?
On a side note but an imperative one to take account of, the Port of Cork are applying for planning in September for Ringaskiddy because currently Tivoli can only cater for vessels up to 155m in length. If vessels longer than 155m are introduced they will not be able to turn at Tivoli so will not be able to get in to Port of Cork. Hence the Ringaskiddy planning proposal – if this isn’t approved businesses will suffer – hugely. Fingers crossed they get planning permission.
Lilibeth Horne, The Loop, Cork Airport shared further interesting statistics for our airport whereby there are on average 7,000 passengers daily with 43 destinations. There were 2.45 million passengers in 2011 with 315 flight movements weekly. This is traffic that is sustainable with our operational and tourism offering.
What was very intriguing was that for every 1,000 passengers a job is generated and there are currently 3,000 jobs ‘on campus’. Business, leisure and charter passengers together account for 250 million into the region. All of this should then have a knock on effect of 500 million & 5,500 jobs from Cork Airport. I’d love to see more statistics on that.
To sum up the morning, the delightful Frankie Whelehan, Managing Director, Choice Hotel Group and founder of the Daisy Chain Foundation shared his enterprising ways with us. He mentioned Choice Hotels’ purchasing services for hotels and other trade – First Choice Purchasing , and hotelsonline.
However, what really stuck with me was his call to action for the day – random acts of kindness – what can we do to broadly help Cork? Well this blog post I thought might be my broad way to help Cork. With approximately 3,000 personal connections on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter I am blogging and posting to the aforementioned networks in the hope that this will spread the word a little further – this is my random act of kindness which in turn can be (or be part of) your random act of kindness – by reposting! These opportunities are on our doorstep and are there for the taking so let’s spread the word and promote our offerings as far and as wide as we can.
Let’s promote Cork, together.
Until the next post! Happy Sunny Thursday & here’s a bit of cheese on toast in the spirit of promoting together.