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The September Mingle saw around 70 MRBTA members enjoying an evening of conversation, great wine and an incredible grazing platter at Flametree Wines.

Charlotte Dowden and the team at Flametree put together a delightful evening for MRBTA members to get together.  The grazing platter was a visual and veritable feast put together with predominantly local produce that visitors can purchase to create their own platter to enjoy on the deck or lawn.

Jasmin Rouw, MRBTA Membership Manager, officially welcomed all new and renewing members to the 2019-20 Membership Year.  Thank you to all members that have renewed, we are looking forward to working with you over the next year.

Steve Harrison, MRBTA Joint-CEO, reflected on the current business environment in particular with some insights on patterns that have emerged in relation to our business survey amongst members.

We are seeing a consistent 1/3 of members reporting significant improvements than the same period the previous year, and 1/3 significantly worse. This is not a pattern that we would have seen or expected even just a couple of years ago. Normally we would expect the majority to be close to previous years with smaller percentages at the plus and minus ends of the range. The flattening of that normal response curve is very likely indicative of supply outstripping demand in some sectors of the industry.

Demand (visitation) has been rising but supply, especially in sectors such as accommodation and tours, has been rising faster.  This creates a situation of increased competition and customer choice. This in turn creates additional stresses for businesses with larger overheads & expenditure demands, less established customer databases & loyalty, weaker presentation / marketing, and less integration & exposure in trade supply networks.

In addition to the increased level of competition, there has been a tightening of visitors’ discretionary spending. This also impacts on some sectors more than others. As a generalisation, sectors such as retail fare worse than many food & beverage businesses. A third inter-related factor is the changing expectations of visitors, which include methods of booking, time constraints, and desire to engage with the people & places of a region and to feel that they have a better understanding of the place they have visited, especially if they have travelled a long way to one of the most distant parts of the world.

As well as collecting and feeding data back to the regional tourism businesses, MRBTA has identified an increasing need to assist businesses to survive and prosper in challenging times. During 19/20 we are putting additional resources into opportunities for information, education, training and mentoring. This will have to be responsive to individual needs and circumstances. To assist with this work, we are delighted that Pip Close will be available to bring her unparalleled knowledge and expertise to assist MRBTA members over the next 6 months.


A huge thank you to the friendly team at Flametree for a wonderful evening.