Tuesday 25 February 2020

Slapton Line Business Forum

Slapton Line Business Forum

The Slapton Line Business forum meets regularly in order to support businesses in the area. The latest meeting at the end of January reviewed work carried out in providing marketing support and how to take forward making the area a more attractive visitor attraction: 

Slapton Line Business Forum, 26th Jan, Slapton Village Hall

"Creating A Sustainable Vision"- Workshop

1. Background to the Meeting As part of the ‘adaptation plan’ to cope with long term road closure, a business forum was started last year. Attendees to this recommended additional marketing support and a workshop was commissioned by the Slapton Line Partnership from marketing expert Su Beswick who has followed this with 15 individual (confidential) advisory sessions with businesses.

This event was set up in order to :

  • share the information emerging from the workshop and advisory sessions
  • respond to the issues raised with what’s happening now and develop some ideas of how to go forward
  • plan the next steps in order to progress the emerging ideas

2. Feedback from Business Advice Sessions – Su Beswick

General Findings : Businesses found visits most useful providing help with future marketing planning Key concerns now - beating the recession; achieving returns on capital investment, capacity issues for growth: resources, people, finance & lifestyle; raising finance for planned developments

Action discussed included the following points: Marketing issues : Ongoing website development, sales enquiries, automated bookings & reservations, orders online, search engine optimisation, market segmentation – on and offline, developing customer relationships, improved communications, securing repeat business, customer feedback, E-marketing- keeping in touch with customers, using testimonials, improving marketing & business systems, setting forward business goals, keeping ahead of the competition, getting in the news, use of photography, greening the business, furthering local sales, entering awards, cultivating visiting family, friends & relatives, third party endorsers,

Adaptation challenges : Delivery & supply logistics, selling direct locally - a growth area for producers, potential increase in costs, inconvenience, local infrastructure

Some Opportunities : World class destination – unique natural arena for recreation & fun, circular walks & cycle trails – linking villages & businesses open to public, "Green" transport links – villages to coast, imposing art sculptures, joint funding opportunities – SDCLAG (Local Action Group) 

Business to business, ideas arising: Trading together, Reciprocal weblinks, Taking advantage of Buy & Think Local campaigns, Local memberships e.g. Food & Drink Devon , Working with green businesses, Developing alliances, Sponsoring green transport links, A network of interpretative hubs, Sales enquiries, Different stories - inter related themes, Generic design, Supporting local festivals & events, Group distribution scheme

3. Response on some issues– Alan Denbigh and Liz Davey, Slapton Line Partnership Some existing activities included :Infrastucture : Fold-down signage was in place between Kingsbridge & Dartmouth to advise of road closures; There are alternative inland routes- with advisory one way sections; Passing bays are being improved and these routes are to be reviewed for other potential improvements: Shingle bastions are being maintained to protect vulnerable sections of the road.

Help with Marketing materials: We have some budget to support production of tourism publicity materials; Also have a library of good quality photographs. **Businesses to make contact if photos required.

Proposed workshops: E marketing (improving search optimisation); Greening the business and capitalising on this; Effective sales;

Interpretation Boards: New interpretation boards making more of the various stories associated with the area are to be in place before shortly at Strete gate; Middle car Park; Torcross; Torcross cliff viewpoint. An updated version for the tank is being developed together with Dean Small of the Tank Company. It will be in place for 60th Anniversary in April which is expected to attract interest from American TV networks.Info Points: We have plans to do more interpretation boards in response to businesses wishing to tell local stories – for example Discovery Centre; Britannia Shellfish – possibly building up a trail between each. ** Other businesses who may wish to be involved in Info Points at their business to contact Liz Davey. A larger scale interpretation centre has been discussed at a local meeting.

4. Field Centre Activities to Improve Visitor Experience – Andy Pratt

An interpretation study has recommended a number of improvements including: Information provision at fishing hut (Sands Rd), bird hide (Torcross) also have plans to start a mobile information centre in middle car park all to take place before this summer. Also additional events on beach & nature reserve. Drop in activities at SLFSC e.g. Celebrate Start Bay. More trails e.g. birds and butterflies. Andy welcomed business input.

5. Bus Transport Proposal - Don McIntosh, Tally Ho

If road closes, First group may not continue running 93 bus service. Tally Ho runs local subsidised bus routes & community buses. Planning for increased sales and increased growth. 60 + concessions drawing more people onto buses. Tally Ho are preparing a bid to Local Action Group fund (SDCLAG) to run bus/walks/guided tours possibly using young people as tour guides.

6. Michael Smith – Collaborative Working

Put the area on the map from a business proposition. Start bay: stunning coastline, unique natural resource, beach, food/drink and local products & services, outdoor recreation, watersports etc

An opportunity: Start Bay proposition- unique destination, Dartmouth & Kingsbridge also benefit. Tourist information centres can help promote. Benefits to local villages. Common ingredient: Enjoy a fabulous experience. Start Bay has it all. Make more of the natural resources.

Business group could help develop a common vision with associated themes & develop products to fit. Plan to succeed. Identify required infrastructure. Define own business benefits. Easy to sell to customers and other businesses. Fits within Tourism (ATP & DMO) structures. Start Bay destination at the forefront.

Food & Drink Devon experience shows collaborative working does work with positive benefits to those involved. Also distribution trial experience which may have value to Slapton area. Michael Smith wishes to be involved.

7. Working Groups: Destination Start Bay


Scenery (coast/beaches, nature reserve, green lanes, warmest place in UK, starry sky); Hospitality; Food & Drink; Traditional – villages, history, natural beauty, gardens, appeal to wider audience; Tourism, suppliers and education; buses and walks ferry; packages

Brand: area a magnet; quality & continuity; marketing support umbrella; Build awareness; Interactive diary; co-ordinate special events; focal point; one website with business links and to other tourism destination sites; better information on boards. Broad brand eg Start Bay

First priority

Brand development; links to businesses; audit of skills; beauty on a human scale (sustainability); website; walks; business mentoring; tell people about it.


Business buy in; industry voice; collaborative working; businesses – lots of different flavours; small groups on a sector basis; feeding into South Devon; proactive at the cutting edge.

Next steps

Pick up ideas; Possible bid – feasibility & market identity; share ideas; define brand.

Business group volunteers to work with this :Michael Edwards, Kate Gill, Andy Pratt, Mike Rogers, Michael Smith, Christine Yates

  • Publish Date: Monday 19th January 2009