Recently we asked our business members to tell us more about themselves and how our service stacks up, as a way to bring them more business, and how they'd like to get more involved in the work of the Association.
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Here is a summary of what we found out:
Over 55% of our membership responded to the survey, a great response rate indeed! We are very lucky to have an engaged community of businesses to work with.
- Nearly 90% of 'Sleep' members have under 15 beds with over 50% having under 5
- This is turned on its head for 'Eat' members where over 50% have 25 covers or more and only 2% have under 10
- In the 'Do' category, the most diverse membership type, over 50% expect to receive 101-1000 visitors every year, 32% over 1000
- Businesses see a large range of customers types who visit the south west coast with the largest group being long distance walkers (75%) closely followed by weekenders. 70% see custom from international visitors with over 60% seeing a significant number of over 55's
- Over 70% of those responding told us that we provide a good or excellent service for them overall. With over 90% of members feeling we provide OK, good or excellent value for money
- We offer a number of membership benefits to our members. It came as no surprise that the ones that they ranked as most important were the listings they receive on our website and in the annual Complete Guide to the South West Coast Path. It was heartening to hear that being able to contribute to Coast Path improvements came a close third
- Over 70% would like to help us to promote the Coast Path to visitors with 30% offering to recruit new members for the Association
- 60% were neutral on whether we change the pricing structure of membership with 30% disagreeing with any changes
More details follow for an in depth read
Who are our members?
In each category of membership we offer, ‘Sleep’, ‘Eat’ and ‘Do’, we have a diverse number and types of business that benefit from being a member.
Over half of those who are accommodation providers have under 5 beds, over a third between 5-15 beds with under 10% of our members having over 15 beds to offer. Our accomodation providers range from family run B&B's with one or two bedrooms, self catering cottages, campsites, glamping pitches and hostels to large luxury Hotels.
Those providing somewhere to eat and drink are also represented across the size range around the coast. Only 2% provide under 10 covers, 44% between 11-25 and 54% over 25 covers. From a pop-up mobile van in an out of the way spot to walkers cafes, welcoming pubs and high end eateries serving local food and beverages to hungry and thirsty walkers!
And lastly those greeting visitors to ‘Do’ things in the area. 18% expect under 100 customers a year, 50% from 101-1000 customers and 32% over 1000. These is the most diverse group, ranging from taxi and ferry companies, Tourist Information Centres, nordic walking experiences and walking holiday companies to well known south west tourist attractions.
The south west coast caters for a diverse range of visitors and our business members told us who their main customer types are:
Other customer types include those visiting family in the area, school and walking groups, beach lovers and surfers, those working away from home and wedding guests.
How are we doing?
We want to offer a really good product to our members. This is what they told us about their overall experience of our service and how they feel we do in providing different areas of our membership scheme.
We are very happy to see that in the main our customer service is good or excellent. Members feel on average that we could represent them better than we currently do and we are looking at ways to do this through our lobbying and partnership work with tourism bodies and government representatives. And we are always looking to promote our business members better to those who visit the Path every year through social media, direct mailing and through our partnerships. Over 90% of members feel we provide OK, good or excellent value for money.
We provide our members with a number of benefits for their annual fees. We asked members how they ranked the importance of these to their business. Coming out nearly joint top were the listings they receive on our website walks at www.southwestcoastpath.org.uk and in the annual Complete Guide to the South West Coast Path. Next importance was given to how their membership contributes to Coast Path improvements, which is very good to hear. Nearly on a par was the level of social media exposure. Least importance was given to their individual membership of the Association, quarterly e-news and other options to directly market to our individual members and taking part in Association events and projects with their staff.
We asked members if they would like to see us offer other benefits to improve their membership offer. We had lots of responses, as well as the ranking of current benefits, that we will take on board as we continue to develop the product. Some of these included letting members know about route changes and diversions pro-actively, having business listings as a more prominent feature on the website, as seen on other booking services sites, better search functions to find their business, create a business forum and business support programme and from others we heard that they'd like us to focus more on the value of membership to aid the protection of the Path rather than on the advertising benefits received.
As a charitable organisation we are able to offer a ‘different’ type of business membership to others scheme providers. We work very closely with our thousands of passionate individual members, millions of visitors who benefit from and enjoy their time on the Path, as well as our partners on the Path like the National Trust, local authority teams and other landowners. As a result, we are able to offer our business members different ways to get involved in our work. We asked them how they might like to do this.
As some of the category titles have been shortened above they are outlined in full below:
- Attending business support events
- Receive digital support materials
- Take part in Association events to raise your profile
- Help to promote the Coast Path to visitors
- Provide stories and content for use in our publications and communication with other members
- Help recruit new members that stay at, eat and drink with and visit you
As you can see over 70% would like to help us to promote the Coast Path to visitors with 30% offering to recruit new members for the Association. We are very pleased to hear this and will be contacting those members offering their help in this way over the coming months. We will also take on board the suggestions of members who want to get involved in different ways.
We currently have a pricing structure based on turnover, at three levels small (£0-£21,000), medium (£21,000-£80,000) and large (£81,000 and over). We asked members for their views on whether we should change this or not. Nearly 60% neither agreed or disagreed and as such are the largest group of those that responded neutrally about us making any changes. 10% agreed that we should change the structure and base it on the amount of benefits given to a business or increase the number of bands we have, with just over 30% disagreeing that we should change the structure at all. We will be doing more in depth research from those that gave an opinion and provided additional feedback to this question to decide on a way forward but for the next few months we don't expect to see a change to the pricing structure, however we will be increasing prices for each current size of membership from 1st January 2019. New fees to be announced in December this year.
We really appreciate all our members for completing the survey. We will now go about using this data to improve our membership scheme for them.
If you would like to receive any more details about this survey please get in touch with Sarah Gunn at [email protected] or call us on 01752 896 237.
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