Expert offers hope
A LOCAL shoe store owner is looking at this year’s downturn from a new angle after hearing social capitalist Peter Kenyon reminding locals that “nothing is impossible”.
Despite the recent news of Bale closing down and small business and tour operators going bankrupt, the optimistic visiting expert shared some valuable advice in his presentation, “Getting the Tills Ringing in Times of Downturn”, held at Rydges Resort last week.
“The locals in Port Douglas have the enthusiasm and commitment to get off the ground,” Mr Kenyon said.
“After the presentation all I could say is that it was one of the most positive and interested audiences I have spoken to in a long time.
“They just need to together.”
In Port Shoes owner Toni McNamara was one of the 30 people who attended the presentation last Wednesday thanks to the Cairns Regional Council and Tourism
work Port Douglas Daintree encouraging locals to “think outside the box”.
Ms McNamara started the business in 1987 around the same time as Christopher Skase built the Sheraton Mirage and attended the meeting knowing Mr Kenyon would be a motivation.
“The opening of the Mirage was the beginning of tourism for Port Douglas, a lot of the people who lived here for then were living here for the lifestyle not for the tourism,” she said.
“The problem we are facing now is that tourists are actually saving money because people are so unsure of the future.
“Years ago people were spending money like drunken sailors.”
Getting the Tills Ringing in Tough Times focused on four case studies of failing tourism-based businesses that were able to reinvent themselves and then looked for the success common denominators - the basics.
He focused on the four critical elements of doing well in difficult times which include customer service, innovative marketing, motivation of staff and collaboration between businesses.
According to Mrs McNamara the presentation valuable to locals and agreed with the suggestions made - that the Douglas region needs to work collaboratively.
“I agreed with a lot Peter had to say and from retail point of view we do need to work together and I think we could do this a little bit better,” she said.
“A lot of retailers in Port Douglas are breaking the first rule of retailing which is repeating business.
“There are that many shops which sell tourism t-shirts, hats and products. A retailer really needs to look at selling new services to meet the needs of the locals, not just the tourists.”
Tourism Port Douglas Daintree Doug Ryan said Mr Kenyon inspired locals by telling successful stories about other rural communities who have bounced back after hard times.
“I think it was more a way of enlightening people on new ways of doing things,” he said.