Thursday, May 24, 2007

Some Bus Tours are less fun…

Well, Beau’s grand opening has come and gone, and it felt like a good time to do a little reflection on the weekend’s events. Three things went very well:

1) Retail shop. We handed out samples in tiny cups after learning from the bus tours last weekend that big cups make for poor attention spans during tours. We had our swag laid out relatively well, although a bit more tweaking will make it more obvious people can buy stuff, and encourage them to do so. The bar-style atmosphere was quite nice and inviting, and the two large windows drew people to stare at the big tanks.

2) Ribbon cutting. We got a front-page article in one local newspaper, inside article in another, a ½ hour radio interview on one of the Ottawa radio stations, and column mentions in both big Ottawa newspapers. The dignitaries showed up on time, and we had a manageable crowd — not so big it became a zoo, but enough so it didn’t look pathetic.

3) Hay wagon rides. I estimate that we brought an additional 300 people to our retail shop by having the hay wagon, and it made for a real nice conversation piece to have 15 people show up on a wagon being pulled by a shiny red 1957 Massey Ferguson tractor.

Two things went “sort-of” well:

1) Pork Roast. The Farmers’ Market made a modest profit on this, although if the weather had held out for the Sunday, it could have been much better.

2) Beer Tents. The beer tent by the brewery did relatively well, considering the poor Sunday weather. By having a pig roast and sound system outside it stayed vibrant and was fun. On the other hand, the beer tent on main street was tucked away in a corner with no entertainment, and had the feel of being ostracized from the event. As a result it was not really worth the effort.

One thing did NOT go well:

Bus Tours. I’ve realized that we tried to make the bus tours too complicated by running the same bus back and forth to Ottawa, doing a morning trip and an evening trip, on both Sat and Sun, and picking up from two locations (one in centre town, one just to the west of Ottawa). Holy crap, was it ever a logistical nightmare. Add to this the fact that the day before the tours, the bus company called to say they were going to double the quoted rate. On top of that, the buses were in poor shape — one actually had to take a busload of my guests back to the depot because of mechanical problems, they showed up late, there was no bathroom on the bus and so on. And of course, it was Beau’s that looked bad for the bus company’s many screw-ups. To do it again, I would book with a more reputable bus company instead of trying to save a few bucks (which I ended up not saving due to their dirty tricks), from only one location on only one day, and would have put more effort into advertising them.

Overall, I think the grand opening was definitely a success, but there were a few things that I’d do differently a second time. The general rule would be: where we kept it simple, it worked.


Anonymous said...

I thought the tour and friendly atmosphere were just great! This is the beginning of something else that will become a traditional "start of summer" event. Congratulations on a great beginning!

Steve said...

Thanks! I'm glad you had a good time anonymous (nice name, by the way). Yeah, we got lucky that it was such a good group on the bus and I did enjoy seeing everyone.

Colette said...

I know something you are learning the hard way, (losing $$) but keep at it. Your ideas are really good and with a little fine tuning will certainly be future hits!

keep up the good work
Colette (yes, the one in Paris)

steve said...

Its my marbles I'm worried about losing!