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The Talyllyn - Suggestions

Discussion in 'Narrow Gauge Railways' started by ellisteph12, Jan 15, 2013.

  1. ellisteph12

    ellisteph12 New Member

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    Hi,

    Having read through the comprehensive Talyllyn thread there are some really good suggestions and ideas that may get lost, which is a shame.

    If you have a thought, comment or suggestion regarding the Talyllyn, please share. I will do my best to then take them forward at Tywyn. Visitor numbers are a concern so its only right that suggestions from visitors are listened to, regular visitors and members to the TR may not be able to see first-hand what more the railway could offer or is missing so its really helpful to find out.

    Thanks,
     
  2. paulhitch

    paulhitch Part of the furniture

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    Apart from this issue of the matter which I have already sent an off post message to you about i.e. how expensive it has become to travel on the T.R. vis a vis the other "Great Little Trains of Wales" it might be instructive to look at the number of days services are operated. Also the number of days more than one rake is in use and the effect the Abergynolwyn stop has on stock utilisation.

    Paul H.
     
  3. hussra

    hussra New Member

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    Just a few based on our trip back in the autumn:

    * Drainage at Abergynolwyn playground, as already mentioned in the other thread!
    * What is the purpose of the walks leaflets - is it to make money, or to attract passengers? And if the latter, should the information on them be made more widely available, e.g. on the web site? I can sort of see the point of charging if people want a nicely printed paper copy.
    * Is it feasible at all to expedite lunchtime arrangements in the Wharf cafe? It works if people want the hot options from the counter, but sandwiches/paninis etc. were desperately slow.
     
  4. guard_jamie

    guard_jamie Part of the furniture

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    Communicate with the local Tourist Board, local councils, other local attractions, start selling Tywyn, Aberdovey, Machynlleth and surrounding area. Would WA funding be a possibility in this?
     
  5. ellisteph12

    ellisteph12 New Member

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    The area has suffered a small identity crisis in being able to advertise itself as an area to visit. That will soon change! With regard WA funding, there are lots of funding options out there but its about identifying what grants to go for based on the need at the TR. As you suggest, the first need seems to be advertising the area much clearer to visitors who may skip past going North or South.
     
  6. guard_jamie

    guard_jamie Part of the furniture

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    I was thinking especially regarding grants for that area advertising.
     
  7. mickpop

    mickpop Part of the furniture

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    I am not informed on what business basis the Talyllyn operates, ie is it a trust, charity or simple 'for profit' business? I do know that businesses in Gwynedd that are below a certain rateable [business rate] value are exempt from such taxes or operate on a much reduced tax basis due to small business grants from the WA. Would that allow certain aspects of the TR to be hived off as seperate businesses, ie the catering facilities, and their premises then qualifying for reduced business rates?
     
  8. lostlogin

    lostlogin Member

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    I agree to an extent. The cafe at Wharf appears to be trying to cater for everybodies tastes with the result that even when only two trains are running it seems to require several staff and service remains not that quick. Decide who and what you are catering for and stick to it and margins and service may improve. e.g. in the middle of summer they had on offer two or three hot meals but no kids menu! First off all I doubt the average family in the summer holidays is looking for a hot meal at lunch time but either way for a "family" attraction kids meals should be avaialble, even if only fish fingers or sausage and chips. Also ensure the quality of the latter is reasonable, do not go cheapest sausages which are little more than flavoured bread crumbs! As a parent keep the kids happy then I am happy!

    Could I suggest you look at the catering at Corris Craft centre. I expect they are catering for a similar market and what they offer seems to be more in line with what I would expect to be available.
     
  9. lostlogin

    lostlogin Member

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    Agree totally. Maybe it is also time to add a few additional items. The FR improved their play area greatly this year at Tan y Bwylch
     
  10. Chris86

    Chris86 Member

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    Play on the connection with the Corris Railway, whilst you are both to a greater or lesser extent playing for the same business, that could be an excellent marketing tool to palm business from each other following the 'well if you enjoyed today maybe you would like to visit........?'

    Having an out of ticket loco on display somewhere like the craft centre at corris or other similar locations with a display could work well?

    Chris
     
  11. ellisteph12

    ellisteph12 New Member

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    The TR currently has No.3 'Sir Haydn' on display at the Corris, agree it would be nice to show off the locos at other places.
     
  12. timmydunn

    timmydunn Member

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    I may be biased (being a marketing person in the travel/tourism world) but when numbers are falling, you need to improve your marketing. I've seen some attractions cut back on marketing and try to increase on-site spend: all this does is try to sell more to a decreasing pot of visitors.

    The TR needs to distinguish itself and make it worth that extra-long journey to the coast, and start doing it quickly. The branding for the TR that I've seen doesn't do quite do it justice. This is an ancient, friendly, trundly little railway, creaking and bumping its way up from the coast over waterfalls and through woods to the forests and old mines in the mountains.

    It's a long way to Tywyn. You need to make the whole railways experience more of a destination, because sad to say, Tywyn town isn't going to bring in the punters from mid-Wales and beyond. Get the branding right, tweak the product slightly to match the expectation and make it worth a trip, and get the word out in the right places to the right people. It needn't cost the earth, but you're going to need to make some changes that some old-timers probably aren't going to like.
     
  13. Stu in Torbay

    Stu in Torbay Part of the furniture

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    Very well put post from timmydunn. To continue the marketing angle, carry out an analysis of the complete operation. What are its strengths, weaknesses opportunities and threats? then you can use each of the positives to combat the negative. One thing I wondered, are there other attractions nearby which you could team up with and issue joint tickets? or discounted entry for the other? Whatever you do, run everything through the "does this satisfy customer need and represent value to them?" test If you find you are not sure what the customer need/value is, then it is time to do some research. look at other lines, what are they doing both promotionally and operationally which is helping them succeed? if you are different in any way to other lines, analyse the difference. is it a negative one, or a positive one. If the latter then declare it. One of the most common failures in any business is they they are themselves aware of their differentiation, but they don't declare it.
    Consider promotions. Discounts, deals, money off return visit, free food/drink when you buy x y z....selling a ticket at a discount is better than no selling the ticket at all.
     
  14. timmydunn

    timmydunn Member

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    Joint tix are a great way to sell two destinations and turn a half-day into a whole-day attraction. Providing you get the match right.

    If I was marketing the TR (my god I wish I were, but I'm not, yet since you asked for ideas...) I'd look at what motivates your market. Who are your customers, where were your customers, and where's the untapped market? Who aren't you appealing to but should be? Then find out what they look for in a day out.

    Careful with the free return ticket thing. I don't know your median/av repeat rate per annum - you may cannibalise incremental bookings by giving away a second visit free.
    Give away stuff in return for engagement - some refer-a-friend mechanics, checkins on Facebook (is there a signal at the Wharf?) etc, complete a quiz to get a free drink etc etc.

    How can you start packaging up a family visit on the railway in a very specific way? Be innovative. There's more to a trip on the TR than sitting on a train and coming back. Make sure the passengers realise that and extend their visit by guiding them around the other things. Taking it to its extreme, the Treasure Train in the Forest of Dean turned a train ride into a complete themed experience with hunts and so on. You don't need to do Disneyland or OTT theming - you've got the real thing already - just make sure you're making the most of it and you're providing a complete experience and not just another train ride. Why should they visit the TR and not another line?
     
  15. Talyllyn07

    Talyllyn07 Member

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    thankyou Timmy!

    this is some good advice which we could definitely use and pass on to our Marketing volunteers who are trying their best with the TR!

    AT
     
  16. timmydunn

    timmydunn Member

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    Also - I'm not knocking what the team are doing already. They've got their work cut out already, and the visitor numbers show that they're doing a lot of things right already. I'm not saying what they *should* be doing because that's all too easy to sit here at home and say "blah blah, you don't wanna do X, you wanna do Y" etc. There are also many better marketing minds out there than I, and I'm sure many of them are already involved at the TR. I wish you all the best.

    My cab ride up the valley aboard No.1 a couple of yrs back, organised by a couple of friends who frequent these boards, was a fantastic day out and it cured my back-ache. Perhaps there's a health marketing angle there for you ;) (No, don't do that. Srsly.)
     
  17. 8-10 Brass Cleaner

    8-10 Brass Cleaner Member

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    Buy/Lease the Corbett Arms Hotel.

    Refurbish, use as a springboard to actively chase the coach trip market, offer combined accomodation/driver training packages. That sort of thing.

    Sell beer, etc etc, may even make a proffit to plough into the railway as well as bringing in buisiness via the above.
     
  18. Talyllyn07

    Talyllyn07 Member

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    I agree that Tywyn and the TR needs the Corbett Arms but its a tad beyond the TR's means at the moment to dive into such a operation as nothing has been done to the decor etc since the 80's? maybe longer ago? also some of the rooms have just storage heaters in the rooms? etc etc it would take alot of capital investment to even get it near acceptable for coach tour operators I fear. That said Brains Beer was interested in it a few years ago but the owners wouldn't sell. perhaps they need nudging to inquire about it again...

    as for selling beer etc, the bar that is now at Wharf sells many different ales throughout the year and are organising a beer festival this year. so the selling of beer is already well on its way :)

    cheers

    AT
     
  19. ellisteph12

    ellisteph12 New Member

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    And 'Fosters' for the real connoisseurs :)

    The TR buying the Corbett is one of those great round the bar conversations, it would be fantastic, but as AT said the amount of work that needs to be done could be mind boggling.
     
  20. michaelh

    michaelh Part of the furniture

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    I'm surprised it's not been converted into flats.
     

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