Airlie Beach has to become a ‘home’ town if it doesn’t
want to become a ’clone’ town and die.
This was the message, loud and clear, from retail
branding guru John Stanley at the Queensland Small Business Week Business
Breakfast held last Thursday (May 30).
The audience of around 30 business
people also heard how the town needs to embrace the millennials, be a bit
“weird”, and “own our territory” at the inspiring event, held at Mantra Club
Organised by Whitsunday Coast Chamber of Commerce, in
conjunction with Whitsunday Regional Council, the special regional branding
event was part of the Queensland Small Business Week celebrations.
Chamber President Allan Milostic said the Chamber was
very fortunate to have secured an international expert such as John.
“We were lucky
to have an International expert presenting such invaluable concepts and advice
at a time when we really need to take some drastic action to pick up tourism
numbers and business in the region,” he said.
we have received about this event from members has been fantastic, which is
very encouraging and affirms our belief that good speakers will draw the
forward to holding more great business events and would encourage both members
and non-members to attend future events and take advantage of this opportunity
to hear experts in their field at a minimal cost (free for members).”
Mayor Andrew Willcox took the opportunity to announce
the local results of council’s business start-up grants program targeting small
business growth opportunities across the Whitsunday Region.
The funding recipients, from Airlie Beach and
Cannonvale, also received a complimentary 12-month Chamber membership.
Mr Stanley, an internationally acclaimed speaker and
retail branding expert, explained to the audience how there are only three
retailing economies – price, driven by eg. Aldi and Walmart, convenience,
driven by eg. Amazon, and experience - and this was where Airlie Beach needed
“Provide an experience or get out of the way,” said Mr
Stanley, who is also a producer of chestnut-fed pork, in Western Australia.
He then went on to say that there were three kinds of
towns – ghost towns, who have given up, clone towns, who all look alike because
the corporates have taken over, and home towns, which have soul and purpose.
“Home towns are the future,” he said, adding that some
regions who had become clone towns had seen a 20 per cent drop in tourism
“Home towns attract people. We need to embrace the
millennials, because they are the future, promote fresh, local food – one of
the biggest drivers in tourism worldwide – grasp the technology available to
us, and promote and support entrepreneurs. It’s not about money, it’s about
creativity and ideas.”
Mr Stanley then provided the room with a list of
pointers on how to be a home town, including holding regular festivals, which
the Whitsundays is doing very well.
Other pointers included businesses working together
with common goals and values, farmers markets and craft fairs, a “vibrant”
coffee culture, and encouraging and promoting more “day makers” – people on the
front line who make a customer’s day, rather than making them feel like they’re
“Own your territory, be unique, be weird! What is the
ultimate Airlie Beach experience? You want customers to talk about you, rave
about you, and post about their experience on Facebook!"
L-R: President Allan Milostic, John Stanley, Vice President Judy Porter and Treasurer Nick Haratsis.