Don’t dilute gourmet event
Philip Kotler, regarded as the founder of modern advertising, said “the art of marketing is the art of brand building”.
Modern tourism branding is about creating a brand visitors will accept, become close to, and one which is familiar and based on distinctive visitor experiences.
The State Government’s decision to dilute the Margaret River Gourmet Escape raises serious questions about the value of rebranding a distinctive, internationally recognised event; one that has grown over the past seven years from a local food and wine festival to a major tourism brand, recognised globally.
Opportunities for expansion of Swan Valley and Perth Hills tourism are, like Margaret River or the Kimberley, unique to their geographical location.
To ask gourmet travellers to effectively choose between this destination and Margaret River in the hope of increasing visitor overnight stays is short-sighted.
The MRGE has a global reach of over 115 million people, mostly through social media, which translates into $6.5 million in global brand awareness, not only for the Margaret River region, but for WA as well. On a local level, MRGE brings in over 23,000 room nights, and $7.8 million in expenditure over four days.
Expanding to 10 days on successive weekends in the South West and Swan Valley will at best dilute numbers and visitor spend.
There is great potential to establish another distinctive event, or build on the existing gourmet Entwined in the Valley.
It’s also important to note that $7 million of the events funding in last year’s State Budget was unspent. We should be spending every cent of this budget to develop separate events.