|Marketing Leisure Facilities -- some
provision of leisure and tourism is big business generating millions of
pounds in revenue each year.
There are three sectors of business; public, private and
voluntary; although there is a penumbra between each allowing for a
degree of overlapping across sectors.
In all cases the requirement for attracting visitors and their
revenue is paramount, however not all facilities are profit making but
are supported through subsidy or sponsorship.
is concerned with providing the right products and services and then
forging the best relationships between customers and products and
have examined the marketing of local facilities using; place, price,
product and promotion; collectively named the ‘marketing mix’ (Torkildsen
1993). Creating an
effective marketing mix is very important and there is a marked
difference between the sectors. By analysing these individual
characteristics it is possible to assess the effectiveness of the
package on offer and identify the challenges which face the management.
The three facilities I have analysed are served by city of
Plymouth with a population of approx. 250,000.
The three are:
National Marine Aquarium.
Museum and Art Gallery.
city is not predominately a tourist resort but does see many tourists
stopping off on their way into Cornwall.
The city therefore should provide an adequate mix of locals as
well as visitors, enabling a variety of marketing strategies to be
National Marine Aquarium (NMA)
organisation is a registered charity and is advised by a board of
trustees and an advisory panel, with some famous names.
The one that stands out for obvious reasons is Sir David
the business is wholly owned by the NMA Operations Limited. At the
opening in May 98 the Chief executive said:
can now start to realise our unique mission in terms of conservation,
education and research.”
costing of this attraction is a example of concessionaire pricing with
educational groups being favoured for discount :
a charity this ‘commercial approach’ to the pricing is odd, even
compared to a cinema ticket of £4.50 for an adult it is very high.
Although I imagine that the high price is used as part of the
‘come on,’ suggesting to the potential consumer that there is
something worth seeing that warrants such a high price.
The consumer is also buying into the idea of conservation, that
their money is regenerated back in to the very nature they have come to
see. However such a
high price will restrict the number of repeat visitors but this will not
affect the tourist
/excursionist as much as it will the locals.
The NMA can be seen to be dealing with this problem by offering a
membership scheme which is approximately four times the daily fee for a
years member ship. This
suggests that concessions are being made for repeat visitors which is
due to the perishability of the product and will probably turn out to
benefit the locals more than the tourists.
bundle of consumer satisfactions is on offer in this purpose built
setting. Apart from
the Aquarium itself which houses an art gallery and a shop, there is the
cafe situated in juxtaposition called the Cafe on the quay.
The experience of the aquarium is intangible and it is the
ambience, journey and the feeling that your money is helping in some way
that is on offer. You
are also given the choice of tangible product as with buying paintings
from the gallery, eating food from the cafe or purchasing gifts from the
shop. There is a definite feeling of journey in a visit here culminating
with a well orchestrated finale at the shop, where on this particular
day there were more staff here
than the rest of the aquarium itself.
Aquarium is in a picturesque location, however access is not the best.
For instance there is no formal bus route and the consumer will
have to walk from town across the barbican, fine during summer but
dreadful in the winter months.
The motorist is also faced with minor problems as the route is
not well signposted and having arrived they are asked to pay at a
council car park. Having
negotiated all this the consumer is filtered along a semi-prepared
route, which at the time of the visit was overgrown and untidy.
Taking all of this into account it does appear as if this
facility is not yet fully finished or there is a distinct lack of
attention to detail both of which will be detrimental to the consumers
advertising of the aquarium has been especially good utilising local TV
and radio, as well as adverts on billboards around the city and on the
sides of the cities public transport.
The NMA has used the internet and has its own website which has
all the usual details and is presented to a high standard.
There are leaflets of an equally high standard opening up into a
poster for the children. The
only flaw is the lack of timings for when things are happening during
the day which is off putting to the consumer.
The product in itself is rather short and waiting around for
things to happen became tiresome.
challenge to the management is
to ensure customer loyalty through repeat visits which it has tried to
encourage through its membership scheme.
This is also governed by product development as this product;
unless made more heterogeneous; will have a short life-cycle, for the
local populous at least.
and Art Gallery
Museum and Art Gallery is the cities principle centre of culture,
although there are other cites such as; Merchants House, Elizabethan
House and Buckland Abbey. These
other cites are not in competition with the Museum but rather offered in
conjunction with the Museum. Although
primarily funded by the city council, there is also funding from central
government due to the Cottonian collection.
This has been designated as a museum with an outstanding
collection meaning the collection is unique to the city of Plymouth.
examination of the product gives a clear indication of the objectives of
the Museum. The
cultural and educational theme is the most prominent throughout the
museum and art gallery. However
the closet we get to a formal objective is the ‘National code of
practice for visitor attractions’, a standard service promoted by the
to this facility is free but is subsidised by the local authority which
can be considered a social service type of approach to pricing (Torkildsen
1993), however there is an opportunity to aid funding by contributing to
the ‘friends scheme.’ This
incentive offers lectures and special viewings for a regular
subscription and is an example of concessionaire pricing which will
benefit the repeat visitor and in turn is generating income for, and
loyalty too, the facility.
museum is potrayed as “One of the liveliest in the south west”
which is somewhat of a contradiction or a slur on its
competitors. Born of
the middle class image of rational recreation, little has changed.
The museum lived up to the traditional image of a dank and dreary
product being totally intangible needs something to drive the
imagination and stimulate the senses.
It is about understanding the history and learning about the
city’s past. Although
very traditional in its approach the museum did offer lectures, recitals
and special tours. There
is great emphasis on education through
school visits that can have sole access to certain parts of the
museum for their lessons. The staff were by contrast very enthusiastic,
helpful and abounding with information which at times was overpowering.
This was probably due to the minimal amount of visitors this
visitors to the museum is not made easy especially for the tourist.
The museum is on the periphery of the city centre and no parking
is readily available. In
the museums defence, it has all major bus routes stopping outside and is
opposite Plymouth university.
This campus has provision for 20,000 students and therefore must
be some sort of basis for
generating interest. It
would seem to be ideal as part of a stop off on the way to town but this
does not appear to be the case, I have been many times over the years
and have not seen much in the way of trade for the museum.
for promotion, there is one major leaflet which serves the museum and
art gallery as well as many heritage attractions in the city of
Plymouth. Once in the
museum there are photocopied handouts which appear tacky and
unprofessional this is probably due to the justification required to
spend money within the local authority budget.
Television and newspapers are not utilised which again is
probably due to monetary constraints.
challenge to the management to
modernise the concept of going to the Museum.
Management must use their skills to breath new life into the
Museum which is quickly becoming a dinosaur.
Now they have a new competitor , the Aquarium which has a much
more modern approach. I
do understand that there are monetary constraints but this is where a
good management team needs to be employed.
It is not as if this opportunity is not there to develop the
existing concept. We
live in a mullet-sensory environment and are approaching the millennium
so how possibly can the needs of the people be interpreted like this.
facility was built in 1910 at St Stephens Down on farmland leased by the
Williams family of the nearby Warrington Park estate.
Although historically there have been options to by the site
outright the club has thus far refused.
The club is owned by the members and as such they have a voting
right on all decisions taken.
The club employs staff who work in the restaurant, bar, on the
course and a small administrative team.
The management team is rather a coalition between the committee,
club secretary and the head greenkeeper.
is an economic approach (Torkildsen 1993) to the pricing at the club in
terms of membership, whereby the amount charged goes back into the club
to benefit the members. A
years full membership is £220 plus a one off joining fee of £100,
relatively cheap compared to other competitors but with many members now
coming from Plymouth (a 40 min car journey) they will need to keep it
low. This also falls
into the category of incentive pricing as non-members are asked to
‘pay as they play’ which incurs a daily charge for use of the golf
this membership system the club is attempting to generate loyalty which
can be seen as an attempt to generate income for the future.
Concessionaire pricing can also be seen with the junior
membership at less than half the full price, again developing loyalty at
this stage could well guarantee full adult membership later.
main product on offer, that of playing golf on the course, is intangible
but there is also the usual accompanying intangible products in the form
of food, drink and the selling of golf equipment.
Although one is not forced to have refreshments afterwards it can
still be seen as part of the package when playing golf at this club.
As with most private golf clubs they are projecting an image and
Launceston GC is no different priding itself on etiquette.
Here however the target audience can be seen to be older than its
competitors, this is due to the age of the local residents and as such
there is a much more relaxed or sedentary pace to all proceedings.
Product development can be seen to be in action with the addition
of a new putting green later in the year, the reshaping of certain
holes, the planting of many new trees, the resurfacing of the car park
and the extension to the existing clubhouse.
It must be added that five years ago Launceston was just another
club but due to product development it has been transformed to one of
the best courses in the area.
placing of the club in what could be deemed a retirement town was
originally a good idea but the club now sees difficulty in attracting
juniors members. The
town is served by major road systems and the club is five minutes from
the A30 which finally leads to a picturesque valley with Bodmin Moor on
the horizon. This is
a well chosen location and due to the increase in popularity of the
sport, coupled with the lack of courses available in the Plymouth area,
bodes well for the future of the club.
is very limited with only a minimal effort in the form of adverts in
some golf magazines and the
golf professional displaying his name and club on the side of his car.
I think the club relies on reputation and word of mouth.
This can be seen using the analogy of looking for employment
where it is often said that the good jobs don’t need to advertise.
At the moment this is working well and in fact the club is
considering capping membership due to swelling numbers.
challenge to the management seems to be that of choice do they increase
and become a much larger organisation as the economics seem to
facilitate or do they remain a somewhat small operation and continue the
already excellent reputation.
Ultimately as with most golf clubs the final decision will remain
with the members themselves which could suggest a change of attitude
towards the running of the club may be necessary.
examined three different leisure facilities it is clear that marketing
plays more than a token part in the running of a business.
At first glance they appear very diverse but there are marketing
strategies that link many facilities together in their approach.
All three facilities seem to agree that the tourist and the host
are different in terms of pricing, with the tourist being hit with a
higher one off payment and the host receiving an incentive of cheaper
payment in return for consumer loyalty.
Product similarity can be observed for both the Aquarium and the
Museum. However the
aquarium goes to great lengths to market itself as a bundle of
satisfactions. It is the
marketing that is the difference and which sees the Aquarium as an
organisation that is far ahead of the Museum.
brings into question the ‘needs’ of the community.
The Museum was brought into being by the middle classes and now
appears to be rather a contradiction in terms of a ‘need.’
If local government feel we need this facility then surely they
have a duty to keep it up to date.
It is obvious to me that we do not need it because if we did then
people would be up in arms at just how far behind this institution has
city is going through a period of change with many new developments such
as the Aquarium, the Multiplex at Coxside, the Tradium and the
regeneration of the Barbican.
This could suggest with the example of the Museum that
traditional organisations will be left behind if they do not re-market
themselves in order to keep up.
The marketing approach ensures that when a product or service is made
available to the consumer, it has been planned, designed, packaged,
promoted and delivered in such a manner that the customer is not only
persuaded to buy, but to also repeat the experience as often as
marketing is the difference between successful organisations like the
Aquarium and Launceston GC and failing ones such as the Museum.
and Recreation Management.London.E&FN Spon.