S3 Ep1 Norfolk & Suffolk Tourist Attractions - Peter Williamson, DMO Vice Chair

Tourism Business Chat

07-07-2021 • 1 hr 6 mins

We are back for series three with a bang! There are not many with more experience or passion for the tourism sector than Peter Williamson, former Chair, now Vice Chair of the Destination Marketing Organisation (DMO), Norfolk & Suffolk Tourist Attractions.

Peter is the former owner of the hugely popular Merrivale Model Village, but when he sold the village in 2017 retirement didn’t suit him, so he returned to work by launching The Old Penny Arcade. This attraction allowed him to pursue his passion of refurbishing vintage fairground and amusement arcade machines, where families can revel in exchanging their modern money for big old pennies! His love for the leisure sector and the promotion of tourism in East Anglia is infectious, and his insights into the future recovery of businesses in this region make for a must listen.

Peter chats to Chris about how attractions need to invest in order to improve the customer experience, and how that’s not just about plumbing in new toilets! They discuss how investment needs to be made in new experiences, because this is the key to ongoing survival (past the initial excitement of the post-pandemic freedoms).

They chat about the changes COVID-19 brought and sped up, and how they will probably continue into the future. They discuss why businesses should embrace these changes, particularly with remote bookings, and how this will help with day-to-day planning, and potentially make expenditure savings in areas such as staffing.

Peter believes that customers and their expectations have changed and whilst businesses need to meet those expectations, they also need to consider revamping how they provide their service to customers moving forwards e.g. just because you CAN open 7 days a week, doesn’t mean you should.

A theme running through this chat is reinvention, with Peter discussing the need for businesses to look at how they can ‘bring families together’, and how social media will be key for reputations. He reminisces about a time that he managed to turn a complaint at the model village into global PR gold, proving the old adage of ‘sex sells’ really works! This episode is worth a listen for this anecdote alone and is a fantastic example of how to turn a negative into a positive, and the power media can have over your business.

Peter believes that businesses need to embrace the inevitable changes that will come from life after lockdown but harnessing the themes of tradition and nostalgia might still be good for business in the ‘new normal’ tech era, particularly for seaside town attractions.

You can check out the work of Norfolk & Suffolk Tourist Attractions here

Find out more about The Old Penny Arcade here.

We would love to hear from you, get in touch with us on podcasts@larking-gowen.co.uk or tourism@larking-gowen.co.uk.

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