That was the order of business at Byron United’s launch of its second Byron Naturally campaign on Tuesday evening.
It was the first of two important functions for destination-based businesses in the region to take place this week.
The second was an opportunity to meet members of the government’s Visitor Economy Taskforce at the Byron Bay Golf Club yesterday.
Tuesday’s unveiling of the 2012 campaign included an ambitious target to double the numbers of participants from 100 to 200.
The plan, elegantly presented by Utopia Creative’s Adrian Nelson, will include a TV and radio spend, a significant online offering and a smartphone app for travellers that will allow them to earn, store and reclaim loyalty points at members’ businesses.
Then came the hard sell from Byron United’s Sevegne Newton.
‘More than 40 businesses in Byron have closed this year’, she told the crowd bluntly, ‘none of which were part of Byron Naturally’.
‘Summer’s coming up, and that’s great. But three months doesn’t make a profitable year. In 2011 we just got out of the starting blocks – now we need to stay the distance.’
Russell Mills of Northern Rivers Tourism was less effusive about the effectiveness of the campaign.
‘We invested a significant $40,000 into Byron Naturally. BU did great job of rallying people around and it needed to be supported,’ he told Echonetdaily.
‘But I wouldn’t attribute [the turnaround we’ve seen] to one marketing campaign. I’m not saying it didn’t count. But hard leads need to be provided to businesses when people are investing.
‘I would like to see the stats they have linking their campaign to the amount of business it generated.’
He added that Northern Rivers Tourism is still waiting for a proposal from Byron United and would be hoping to see performance figures for last year’s campaign before it invested again.
Mills described the atmosphere of yesterday’s Task Force meeting as ‘robust’, saying there was ‘criticism about local and state government’s lack of support for regional events, a general lack of planning and of getting things done. The issue of CSG and its impact on the industry was also aired.’
‘Attendees also questioned whether NSW really has a brand compared to VIC and QLD.’
Image: Adrian Nelson director of Utopia Creative (producers of the Byron Naturally campaign), Sevegne Newton instigator of the campaign, Lisa-Mae Riley the Face of Byron, Paul Waters Byron United president, at Tuesday’s launch of the 2012 Byron naturally promotion. Photo Jeff ‘Au Naturel’ Dawson