Tourism, Events & The City of Derry.

MAR 31 2016 | TOM STEWART | B00296257 | POLITICS and POLICY | MARK 11025

This blog aims to illustrate how the mixed economy of a large event can be central to a city and regional destination management and tourism strategy that powers positive and lasting change and the essential role of key stakeholders.

Derry~Londonderry UK City of Culture 2013. A city that needed change and regeneration with a goal to create a strong economic base that acts as a magnet for young talented people and removes the deprivation and inequalities that co-exist with economic malaise and social deprivation.



Defined as a mega-event (Hall, 1992), major cultural or sporting events that have “assumed a key role in urban and regional tourism marketing and promotion” and tourism strategies, UK City of Culture was born out of the success of the Glasgow 1990 European City of Culture  (Van den Borg, 1994) that recognised cultural activity as a catalyst for regeneration. Gaining tourism related visitors through increased marketing  to promote a favourable image (Ritchie & Beliveau, 1974) is a key role of hosting mega events in parallel with enhancement of the place. This generates increased “visitor expenditures; publicity, leading to heightened awareness and a more positive tourism image; related infrastructural and organizational developments which substantially increase the destination’s tourist capacity and attractiveness.” (Getz, D. 1998)

The Derry City of Culture Bid was part of a wider Destination Tourism strategy that encompassed a new regeneration plan including construction of the ‘Peace Bridge’, transformation of 2 major former military sites along with key items of inclusion, equality, ambition and sustainibility with heritage and culture at its core. The mission was to grow the tourism economy annually not only to benefit Derry but the Governments tourist revenue growth targets for the region. There was also a promise of legacy project funding to continue the publicity and marketing needs of the area. However the Culture Minister confirmed that National Government funding would cease in March 2015 leaving the City to a more recognisable neoliberalism mode.

Neoliberalism :The rhetoric is that neoliberalism means less state intervention. The reality is that it represents a reorganised management or changed understanding of Government systems and state economy relations with engagement with all interested parties to produce and promote, for example, events and marketing of a place. (Peck and Tickell, 2007: 33). “Neoliberalism promotes market-led economic and social restructuring” and offers “passive support for market solutions” (Jessop, B. 2002).  Responsibilities have shifted to overlap with the free market or private sector but more often large amounts from the public purse are required to prime the process which can be seen as hegemonic (Harvey, 2005). The City of Culture process is almost entirely promoted, funded, developed and guided by the public sector in the initial stages to the point of delivery of the event. It is Government sponsored. Inward investment as a result of the event bid is where the free market starts to make an impact and this can be seen where the private sector is investing and building Hotels in Derry and demand is seen to develop the local airport, for example. So the process is very much one of partnership and cooperation with the private sector willing to invest for the long term provided they are convinced of the success of the outcomes.   Urban entrepreneuraliasm will prevail under ideal conditions of intensity brought about by a successful bid process that recognises the connection by citizens to consumers (Lowes, 2004)


Stakeholders : defined as “persons or groups with legitimate interests in procedural and/or substantive aspects of corporate activity” (Donaldson and Preston, 1995). City of Culture is promoted by  the national development agency for the arts and culture sponsored by the UK Government Department for Culture, Media and Sport. The event is therefore promoted by Central Government as a competition and Cities enter a bidding process with the winning Local Government or City team hosting and funding the event. The City Council then engaged over a period of time with its own community of stakeholders including other government regional and local agencies such as Northern Ireland Tourist Board, private sector, external professional advisers, local cultural forum and others. A Tourism Development Strategy was developed for 2009-2012 which clearly sets out the intent for heritage and culture to lead the way to a better economy and the objectives and stepping stones to achieving this.

The process can fail as evidenced to a greater or lesser degree by non-successful bidding cities whom have expended great amounts of public money with little return. Even in Derry the culture company that ran the City of Culture year had problems with a shortfall of a pledge from Derry City Council who paid only £4 million of £14 million promised.

References :

Derry City Council. (2009)  Cracking the Culture Code-Derry~Londonderry UK City of Culture 2013 PDF Bid Document.

Hall, C.M. (1992) Hallmark tourist Events: Impacts, Management and Planning. London: Belhaven Press.

Borg, J. Van Den (1994) Demand for city tourism in Europe: Tour operators’ catalogues. Tourism Management 15 (1), 66-9.

Ritchie, J.R.B. & Beliveau, D. (1974) Hallmark events: an evaluation of a strategic response to seasonality in the travel market. Journal of Travel Research 14 (Fall): 14-20.

Getz, D. (1998) The impacts of mega events on tourism: Strategies and research issues for destinations.Conference Paper, Australian Tourism and Hospitality research Conference. Canberra A.C.T.417-439.

Peck, J. and Tickell, A. (2007) Conceptualizing neoliberalism, thinking Thatcherism, In Leitner, Contesting Neoliberilism: Urban frontiers. New York: The Guilford Press.

Jessop, B. (2002) Liberalism, neoliberalism and urban governance: A state-theoretical perspective. Antipode 34: 452-472.

Harvey, D. (2005) A Brief History of Neoliberalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Lowes, M. (2004) Neoliberal power politics and the controversial siting of the Australian Grand Prix Motorsport event in an urban park. Society and leisure 27 (1): 69-88.

Donaldson, T. and Preston, L.E. (1995) The stakeholder theory of the corporation: Concepts, evidence and implications. Academy of Management Review, 20: 65-91.

Derry City Council.(2009) Focus on the Future-Tourism Development Strategy 2009-2012 Derry~Londonderry. PDF Document.

British Grand Prix


Power and Decision Making.

The Power and  decision making surrounding major international sport sets  an intriguing background to delivering the event(s) and shaping the outcome. The definition of power has many sources; Niccolo Machiavelli described it as ‘He who wishes to be obeyed must know how to command‘ and Francis Bacon simply said ‘Knowledge is power’. The purpose of the first part of this post is to illustrate the power surrounding Formula One (F1) and in particular the British Grand Prix as an event, how power is defined in context and its influence on the decision making processes surrounding the event. Finally, the post will comment on how F1 links between power and finance are intertwined and together they finalise the outcome of the event’s business decisions.

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Bernie Eccleston F1 supremo on the grid at Silverstone.

F1 is a complicated sport with many participants each with their own agenda trying to maximise their financial investments in a very competitive, compelling  and  volatile sporting industry. The F1 world championship is governed and owned by the International Automobile Federation, or FIA. The commercial rights to F1 (Including television) are leased to Bernie Eccleston. The sport’s main player’s as it relates to the British GP are as follows:-

  • Bernie Eccleston, The 85 year old Formula One president and CEO.
  • The FIA.(Rulebook)
  • The BRDC, the British Racing Drivers Club (850 members and event owners)
  • Politics,Numerous National Governments.
  • The teams and drivers. Mercedes, Ferrari, McLaren, Red Bull, etc.
  • Engine and tyre suppliers.
  • The Fans and consumers.
  • TV and media.
  • The Sponsors.

All of the above are compelled to interact with one another to produce a sporting spectacle that will prove irrestible to the consumers, media and sponsors. This is a huge exercise in social capital, not all of it positive. Not surprisingly the drivers and main personalities attract glamour and together display a lot of  aesthetic labour which the consumers in particular relate to.The sport has a world wide following because it is exciting, glamorous and dangerous. The resultant consumers or fans bring money and from this the industry flows.


The successful Mercedes team on track.

The British Grand Prix at Silverstone is the home of motor racing and in recent years has been at the centre of a power struggle between the owners of the circuit, BRDC and Bernie Eccleston regarding the future of the British GP. One of the oldest circuits, Silverstone is managed in a very traditional and conservative style which has resulted in a lack of investment, and measured against the new circuits is looking like a poor cousin. The venue has hit the classic problem of a static income combined with insufficient capital to reinvest in the necessary infrastructure to satisfy the circus that is F1.

Access to the circuit by road or public transport is challenging and the onsite facilities lacking in the modern day facilities demanded by the public. This combined with the spiralling costs of hosting the event and ever rising entry costs had put the circuit owners in a precarious position.

There are an infinite number of power struggles in F1 but the British GP has at its centre Bernie Eccleston demanding a better venue for his F1 circus, to a lesser extent supported in this by the international racing establishment always demanding better facilities but loving racing at the track, and Silverstone fighting for its existence and disadvantaged financially but supported by the British racing establishment and its historic importance.

To add to the power struggle new emerging economic powerhouses have emerged with seemingly endless amounts of finance to capture this blue ribbon event in their own countries, promising spectacular new racing tracks in exotic places and more income for F1 as evidenced by the new Government financed circuit in Abu Dhabi costing $250 million. Bernie Eccleston is using the new opportunities to try and leverage more investment in Silverstone by BRDC which will inevitably result in more income to his Formula One organisation. He has threatened to pull out of Silverstone and the British GP citing lack of circuit facilities and planned investment. Also, whilst other national governments around the world engage in geopolitical messaging and have been prepared to pour in the necessary millions of investment to retain or acquire F1, the UK government has been remarkably quiet on the subject. This is surprising as it is estimated that the possible loss to the economy of the Silverstone British GP is estimated to be as much as $1 billion . The BRDC have been less successful in mobilising support although their membership consists of many famous drivers, they have seemed  more interested in their own organisation and are playing a game of brinkmanship with F1 and in great danger of losing. The resistance they display to possibly being dropped as a venue, using social capital in looking to the general public by focusing on the history of motor racing in the UK is not effective. This alone in todays volatile economy will not be enough to retain the event in the UK. They need to restructure to make the event and venue financially significant in the field, and convince Government to invest along with other large institutions.


Two of the big brands in action at Silverstone, Ferrari and Red Bull.

The Three-Dimensional view of Power as described by Lukes and articulated by Lorenzi (2006) as ”The power to prevent the formation of grievances by shaping perceptions, cognitions, and preferences in such a way as to ensure the acceptance of a certain role in the existing order.’ most appropriately describes the process acted out over the last 8 years between F1 and the BRDC. The BRDC have demonstrated their disagreement with F1 by not fulfilling the demands set out fully but accepted their offer of contract extensions as the only way forward. F1 on their part remain unrepentant. The conflict for BRDC is that they have an almost break even race economy of huge proportions (Much greater than their net worth) and rely heavily year on year to host the race and to do that have to pay the huge fees demanded by F1. They are in an almost unbreakable financial cycle and this combined with their deep seated ‘need’ to keep  BRDC and ownership of Silverstone at the same time as hosting the British GP leaves them utterly exposed. They are selling the family silver just to remain in existence. Most certainly there is not a ‘willing compliance to domination‘ as described by Plaw (2007), but rather an acceptance that there was no alternative.

In this case it is clear that the greater economic strengths are more bound together and attracted to one another. Eccleston’ s apparent power domination over BRDC  has everything to do with his experience and dominance in the Sport, his financial muscle and his own social capital built up over 40 years as a major player. This dominance is given additional dimension because of his relationship with the media whom he has under contract to his organisation. He is totally dominant.The social capital at the decision making level seems to be more one dimensional. It does not seem to seek to help the British GP and Silverstone ( a weak partner) with investment for example, but only seeks to harden its stance over the annual fee due of £16 million with little leeway other than allowing a little credit. As the race teams or manufacturers are insistent through their own contracts with F1 that they do not want to see any more events on the calendar they are helping to channel F1 away from circuits like Silverstone. One reason is simply that F1 has its own huge banking debts and needs to drive increased income streams every year.

Lukes writing as articulated by Plaw (2007) if ‘the victims’ real interests are complex and conflicting, it will be unclear when those interests are manipulated or altered to their disadvantage by third parties’.  It is true that much of the subject matter is discussed behind closed doors  and not in the public domain. However the major points  of the interactions are known and it should be reasonable to assume that indeed the domination by F1 over the British GP and BRDC is necessary for F1 to continue to be sustainable and that there will sometimes be victims. How the victim responds will ultimately decide their own outcome.

There is no doubt that the reason a sea fisherman’s son rose to become one of the most influential individuals in the world of sporting events amassing a fortune of $4.5 billion dollars along the way was his ability to understand power and how to use it to his best advantage. His level of power enables him to take on national governments (Germany) on alleged financial irregularities over race hosting and be able to drive a deal which cost him $100 million to settle and keep out of court. Money talks, Eccleston has a net worth of $4.2 billion and BRDC, owners of Silverstone are valued at around $34 million.

Power in F1 is  complex and varied and depending on your perspective will prove to be effective (F1) or ineffective (BRDC). As Lukes (2005) described, it is ‘essentially contested’.

Rationalisation and McDonaldization

The aim of the second part of this post is to illustrate the role that Rationalisation plays in the  multi-million pound Sport of Formula 1 and its relationship to the British GP. Society consumes products using their senses and in motor racing all senses are utilised in the process.

http://www.cpp.Edu’s guide illustrates how Max Weber (1864-1920) described Rationalisation as the ‘process of replacing traditional and emotional thought with reason and efficiency’. With this came a division of labour, rules and regulations, impersonality and a concern for technical competence all imposing structure. Ritzer (1993) took this theory and developed the McDonaldization idea and described it as ‘the process by which the principles of the fast food restaurant are coming to dominate more and more sectors’ of society, a metaphor for over rationalisation of society. The theory is delivered within four dominant themes:-

  • Predictability; structured environment, event delivered per knowledge.
  • Calculability; product delivered in similar manner in other countries.
  • Efficiency; division of labour, staff each with their own roles to complete.
  • Control; pre-determined packaging of event, technology used to maximise control.

Anonymous consumption is seen in ticket purchasing, and other sold services such as parking and camping at the event. Fans turn up and are simply pointed efficiently in the direction required. Fast food outlets abound and externalisation of labour is evident everywhere on the consumer side of the fence.

silverstone_2270959b queue


The teams and car design are strictly controlled within a hierarchy and this set of controls travels to all of the circuits in the same manner. The only thing that changes is the Country and circuit design and even then many of the circuits seem similar especially when viewed on TV and digital media, the other form of consumption of the sport. The TV coverage is consistently the same, presenters, practice, qualifying and the race and interviews, all over 3 days.

The car technology rules are designed to offer a predictable safe experience and the teams are also ordered within a structured hierarchy. The car design is very strictly controlled with dimensions, weight, aerodynamics, engine, fuel and tyres all specified. Branding and sponsorship exist on the ‘uniforms’ of the teams to portray the sense of  excitement of a Roman amphitheatre.


Even the drivers roles are strictly controlled, automatic gears, predetermined tyre changes, fuel allowance, race marshals’ flags and severe penalties if not adhered to. Function replaced by technology and external control.

The British GP and F1 is  challenged with having  to try and retain interest from consumers by constantly changing the rules to attempt to even competition and provide opportunity for different teams and drivers to win  making the championship a more exciting spectacle. Extreme control is exerted upon the teams and the design of the cars and the entire process of racing. In simple terms the intention is that they should all be similar in design and performance.


Cars on the grid displaying their uniformity.

Although McDonaldization  is attributed to have many benefits and advantages including reducing costs, creating a safer environment and a predictable sense of excitement and spectacle,  there is a strong  argument that these rational systems may  produce negative results to those expected or desired. Ritzer (1994) described this ‘Most specifically, irrationality means that rational systems are unreasonable systems. By that I mean that they deny the basic humanity, the human reason, of the people who work within or are served by them.’

The ‘irrationality of rationality’  is illustrated by this process in that rules are handed down through the hierarchy to exert controlled changes but the teams that have the biggest budgets generally adapt to new rules better and quicker and can afford to, whereas the smaller teams with limited budgets are put under increased financial challenges and through lack of performance do not command the same financial backing. The cars may look the same due to the rigorous regulations and control but the performance ability tends to match the budgets of the more successful teams, therefore a two tier system exists resulting in consumers becoming less engaged. The critics who comment on events becoming too uniform and ordinary have justification due to the results being too predictable. The fan experience also has shortcomings, long queues and once inside they are in a controlled atmosphere with restricted consumer choice in a very expensive arena.



Sylt,C. and Reid, C. (01 Nov 2009) ‘Loss of British GP could cost economy…’ The Telegraph Newspaper.(Finance/economics)

Sylt, C. (05 Oct 2015) ‘British GP needs $23 Million Lifeline..‘ Forbes

Willett, M. (Aug 06,2014) ‘The Fabulous Life of…‘ Business Insider.

Lorenzi, M. (2006), ‘Power: A Radical View’ a critique. Universita di Firenze.

Plaw, A. (2007), ‘Lukes’s Three-Dimensional Model of Power Redux: Is it Still Compelling ?‘ Review Essay. Florida State University.

Lukes, S. (2005), ‘Power: A Radical View’. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan.

web:,Gaventa, Jonathan. (2003) ‘An overview of theories of power since Lukes and their application to development’.


Wills, D. ‘Basic Ideas of McDonaldization’ Course Reading. USA, Cal Poly Pomona.

Ritzer, G. (1993), ‘The McDonaldization of Society’. London. Pine Forge.

Ritzer, G. (1994), ‘Sociological Beginnings: On the Origins of Key Ideas in Sociology’. McGraw-Hill.



BIDS Annual Conference Event


”Prosperity requires not just investment in economic capital, but investment in Social Capital,” Mark Carney, Bank of England Governor, 2014.

Simply defined by the OECD as ‘networks together with shared norms, values and understandings that facilitate co-operation within or among groups’ meaning an individual’s inclusion  that allows them to develop and gain this capital.


Headlining the Conference will be Deputy First Minister John Swinney and John Lambeth, President and CEO of CIVITAS, USA. The aims are to focus on the further development of the BIDS model in Scotland and how this can help transform local communities, grow the local economy and improve quality of life.

The aim of this post is to illustrate how the annual National Business Improvement Districts Conference operates Social Capital to leverage a shared knowledge economy across all sectors for the benefit of all. The conference acts as a focus point for BIDS districts, Members of Parliament and Civil Servants, Local Councillors, Local Authorities, Third Sector organisations, advisory bodies in the regeneration sector, academics, contractors, consultants and practitioners, community activists and many others to come together and share best practice, ideas and knowledge to enable economic benefit to be leveraged for all. Finally the post will comment upon the apparent pitfalls of social capital in instances where ‘sharing’ in certain ways can be damaging.

Business Improvement Districts (BIDS) are by their very nature mechanisms of social capital that have at their very core the ideology of pooling resources from all levels and sectors for the betterment of the areas within which they work. They come to existence partly by voluntary means and partly by a democratic process. The projects they carry out aim to provide further targeted investment as decided by the community for the benefit of business, residents, public sector and the ‘third’ sector volunteer and charity sectors. The aim is to provide improved prosperity to BIDS areas and therefore create better economic and social conditions for all to work, study, live, visit and volunteer. The BIDS ‘industry’ is an ideal example of Social Capital being leveraged and used for betterment.

Engagement or networking happens all of the time but this annual event helps to concentrate the mind and push people together who might not otherwise meet. The idea is to share new ideas, critically analyse current thinking and exchange contacts all to foster continued improvement. Therefore, an annual event like this has less problems with duplication of thinking and ideas and will not suffer overkill and indeed serves to support innovation. The event is truly a once a year opportunity to join around 200 senior civil servants, practitioners and professionals with direct influence and responsibility for delivering BIDS, key stakeholders and policy makers, and representative bodies such as Scotland’s Towns Partnership the Governments go to body for all things regeneration.

So the stage is set at the event to embrace the three main categories of Social Capital:-

  • Bonds: Links to people based on a sense of common identity; family, close friends, and those who share common culture.
  • Bridges: Links that go beyond shared identity; acquaintances’, colleagues etc.
  • Linkages; Links to people or groups that exist higher or lower down the social ladder.

In an environment with common aims such as BIDS these networks and understandings result in the creation of an environment of trust and therefore enable people to work together. The BID manager may at the same meeting be able to engage with the Government Minister equally and as easily with contractors offering their wares, so the event is designed to ‘facilitate co-operation, exchange and Innovation’ as described in The New Economy: Beyond the Hype, OECD insights.(2015)

Creating trusting relationships with people from other social networks to build social capital is the aim of the BIDS Conference and the contacts, knowledge and advice given is the reward. This is facilitated through a full day of participation where interaction is key and delivered via the following means:-

  • Presentations from practitioners and experts on best practice, new ideas and experiences.
  • Presentations from other BID organisations (Over 40 in Scotland) to share their knowledge,successes and failures for the benefit of others.
  • Workshop and Q&A panel sessions again discussing all manner of industry solutions and knowledge.
  • Exchange of information with Civil Servants and Politicians.
  • Trade stands from contractors and consultants indicating services and products.
  • All day networking.
bids perth.jpg


The International Downtown Association (USA) Sharing Information at the BIDS Conference in Perth. 2015.

To conclude, knowledge gained through ‘access to information and influence through social networks also confers private benefits on individuals and in some cases can be used by individuals or groups to exclude others and reinforce dominance or privilege’ as outlined by ‘The Well-Being of Nations, OECD. This will also factor in society but events like these will help to minimise this negative aspect of social capital as the audience is an interdependent group of individuals and organisations that definitely work better together and the BID model is designed to enhance this.

Finally, for consumption to be continually cultured this annual conference event must by its very nature produce new solutions and new ideas every year but not seek to conduct a hard sell to its audience but to attract it by innovation in the solutions provided. Finally to prevent atomisation the event must be irrestible to attend and be able to convince attendees beyond doubt to make it. Putnam’s (2000) assertion that social engagement is eroding as described well in ‘Bowling Alone’ cannot be ignored as the digital world accelerates and facilitates almost any engagement from sitting at your desk. A reminder that events organisers need to be operating at their very best in this challenging age. Helping to solve problems together is social capital.



Web: (2015)

Misener, L. (2013) ‘Events and Social Capital’. In McGillvary,D. and MacPherson,G. ‘Research Themes on Events’. Oxford:CABI Publishing.


Putnam, R. (2000), ‘Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community’, New York: Simon and Schuster.


The Rallye Monte Carlo Historique

JAN 04, 2016 | TOM STEWART |B00296257 | CRITICAL EVENT STUDIES |TOUR11005         The Rallye Monte Carlo Historique will leave from Paisley Abbey on 27 Jan 2016 for the third time. This is an annual event ran by the Caledonian Classic and Historic Motorsport Club and hosted by Renfrewshire Council. The purpose of this post is to illustrate how a Staged Experience as described by Pine and Gilmore (2011) serves to act as a catalyst for regeneration in that the event will result in enhanced national and international positive multi media coverage and at the same time underpin community pride and well-being as a result of the memetic experience providing a source of escape and entertainment.

Finally, the post will investigate how the event should be managed to prevent and avoid commoditization, the feeling of been there, done that ! Cohen (1988) describes commoditization as ‘a process by which things (and activities) come to be evaluated primarily in terms of their exchange value, in a context of trade, thereby becoming goods (and services)‘ which would result in this case in a possible loss of intrinsic meaning and value and less significance and enthusiasm by the target audience for the event and therefore undermining the benefits of having a busier town with a significantly higher perception.

Monte-Carlo-Rally-Paisley ph and LPRally legend Paddy Hopkirk  and Paisley Provost Ann Hall wave Historic Rally cars off the start line in Paisley. The Hillman Imp was manufactured in Linwood 3 miles away and was a successful rally car in its day.

The event target audience is made up from the media, members of the community and the car owners and drivers. The media and members of the community access the event for free. The cars and drivers pay a small entry fee along with their own expenses and take part as a result of their enthusiasm for the sport. The event is designed to Put the Town on the map, to bring positive perception to observers and to reposition the Towns media output in a positive way. As Pine and Gilmour describe (2011) ‘consumers unquestionably desire experiences’ and this also refers to staging experiences to enhance products and services to encourage the audience to visit or ‘buy’, in this case Paisley and its businesses. Again, Pine and Gilmour (2011) confirm that ‘an experience is not an amorphous construct, it is as real an offering as any service, goods or commodity’. The wrapping of products and services in a staged experience to enhance the ability to sell is now  established in the economy and this is demonstrated when visitors are engaged in a personal and memorable way with a heightened ambience or sense of theatre.

Authenticity is key when constructing a staged event. This is not a ‘real’ car rally but a historic event celebrating the original Monte Carlo rally of 1926, one of the most famous in the world. The cars are a mixture of non-rally prepared but nevertheless original vintage cars alongside real vintage rally cars all manufactured between 1940 and 1981.

abbey monte crowds

The event is hosted within the grounds of the 12c Paisley Abbey arranged around a ‘paddock’ area restricted to the fans although they are close to the cars. The start which is the only UK venue, mimics an actual rally with a raised floodlight platform and well known rally celebrities waving the cars off on their journey to Monaco. The noise, smell of oil and petrol leave you in no doubt that you are experiencing a ‘real’ and authentic car rally start within a magnificent setting. This process is in effect broadcasting to the world that Paisley is important, has magnificent architecture, can host world class events and is ready to host visitors.

Essentially, this event has been delivered without saying we are authentic ! This is very important in hosting events that need to be seen as real. The use of the Monte Carlo logo/badge/car number is recognised world wide. The organisation by  the motorsport club of the rally car entrants in the paddock and when leaving is professional and as real as you would witness at any actual competitive car rally.

monte tweet

Tweet underlining international interest and authenticity of event

The organisation of the audience surrounding the event is  carried out in a professional manner with marked and badged stewards and security staff and security barriers between crowds and the cars. The difference between the event and a real competitive motor rally start is almost impossible to determine. In addition there is further wrapping of the car event with street food and entertainment and a fireworks show all to heighten the experience, excitement and entertainment for all.

Understanding the Experience Realms as described by Pine and Gilmore (1998) for this event gives an insight into the effective delivery and success attained. They say ‘we find that the richest experiences-such as going to Disney World or gambling in a Las Vegas casino-encompass aspects of all four realms, forming a ”sweet spot” around the area where the spectra meet.

experience realms

Whether you were a car enthusiast or had just been dragged along to the event you would certainly have enjoyed some if not all of the spectra but many would have encountered all and therefore had a truly engaged experience. You were able to see, hear, smell and in some cases touch all aspects of rally cars. Whether you are a car fan or not this event and its setting and surrounding attractions had something for everyone.

To Conclude, this event has been successful in the outcomes required at inception 3 years ago. With approximately 10,000 attending the event annually, therefore also potential additional consumers to town centre businesses, it is serving its initial purpose. In addition, the media coverage of the event is widespread and positive for the town with many news reports referencing the areas motor car heritage and also the famous Paisley Pattern and history and heritage of the Town. As the event matures however the organisers should take note that the biggest danger is that the event becomes commoditized through being repeated in a similar manner and is therefore rendered inauthentic and suffers dropping attendance and increasing costs as a result.

Consideration should be given to charge entry for certain parts of the event such as the paddock  and start ramp areas where you are up close to the cars and drivers. Consumption of events and the experience economy can result in the event attracting the support required to charge an entry fee reaching beyond the original aims to ensure the event is not viewed as having stagnated and in fact becoming more interesting, engaging and exclusive. If this entry fee was combined with appropriate merchandising in the form of  a ‘goodie bag’ more could be made of selling Paisley to the audience. Creative staged experiences will become an essential tool not just for products and services but for our Towns and Cities to survive. We must however become progressive and clever with the management and staging of these events to benefit both the targeted audience and the organisations within our centres to benefit.


web :

Cohen, E. (1988), ‘Authenticity and Commoditization in Tourism’, Pergamon Press plc

Pine, B. Joseph and Gilmore, James H.(August, 1998), ‘Welcome to the Experience Economy‘ in Harvard Business Review.

web :

Quinn, B. (2009), ‘Festivals Events and Tourism’, in The Sage Handbook of Tourism Studies, London.

Pine, B. Joseph and Gilmore, James H., (2011), ‘The Experience Economy’, Harvard Business Review Press, Boston. pp34-89.


Paisley 2021

For the avoidance of doubt Ashtree House Hotel and Cluny Properties are 100% behind this !
Ambitious plans to transform Paisley’s future revealed. Paisley could be in line for a multi-million pound transformation after an ambitious and far-reaching masterplan for the town’s future was unveiled.Councillors will next week discuss the contents of a detailed strategy aimed at using the town’s considerable heritage assets to maximise its tourist potential in the years ahead.
The report describes Paisley’s heritage offerings – including more than 100 listed buildings, rare books and paintings, and the finest Paisley Shawl collection in the world – as being of ‘international interest and significance’.
It is estimated the proposed developments could increase Paisley’s tourist economy performance by £45m a year, and create around 800 new jobs for the area.
If delivered, Paisley would then be in a position to bid for UK City of Culture status in 2021.
The Paisley Town Center Heritage Strategy was written after the council commissioned a team of experts to consider how the town’s rich history could be used to drive its long-term regeneration.
Key recommendations in the strategy include:
– a mufti-million-pound revamp of Paisley Museum to create a nationally recognized Museum of Textiles, Fashion, Costume and Design;
– a study into possible new theater space in the town, as well as further development at key tourist sites including Paisley Town Hall and the Coats Observatory;
– the creation of a Paisley Fashion and Design Center, amid other improvements to the town center to improve the visitor experience;
– work to investigate whether Paisley’s industrial legacy could be recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The report also recommends work to ‘tell the story’ of Paisley to visitors and develop a programme of cultural activity around existing assets, which takes in a thriving arts and cultural scene, including the UK’s largest youth theater.
That would include further use of the town center as a host venue for events – such as the Monte Carlo Classic Car Rally, due to take place this Thursday (23 January).
Initial estimates put the scale of investment suggested by the report at £90m.
Should the town bid for UK City of Culture status – which is open to large towns and urban areas –Paisley would be attempting to follow in the footsteps of Derry,Londonderry, Hull and Dundee, all of which have successfully pursued heritage-led regeneration strategies in recent years.
Members of the Economy and Jobs Policy Board are due to consider several recommendations relating to the report.
If approved, council officers will start work on a series of business cases to determine the costs and feasibility of the recommendations, and identify possible routes for external funding.
Renfrewshire Council Leader Mark Macmillan said: “This report is the culmination of months of work to determine how Paisley could best use its rich heritage to build a better future for the area.
“It was written after extensive consultation with a wide range of groups, locally and elsewhere.
“It shows that Paisley offers a tremendous range of valuable and unique cultural attractions and suggests how – with the right investment – we could use that to transform our future.
“We already have lots of good work going on – such as last year’s £2.4m revamp of Paisley Town Hall, the £2m secured to transform the Russell Institute and development starting on the Arnotts site in the town center, as well the continued success of our growing events portfolio – but we don’t want to stop there.
“These plans are a bold statement of where we want to be, and we shouldn’t be afraid to think big.
“I want the area’s future to be one where it reaches its full potential and we should explore all options to make that happen.
“Of course, the benefits would not be restricted to Paisley – the study’s findings show that investment in Paisley’s existing assets would bring a significant economic boost to all of Renfrewshire.
“As it stands, things are at a very early stage. Should this initial approach be approved, detailed proposals will be developed for Councillors to consider at a later date.”
The Board will meet to discuss the plans on Wednesday 29 January.
Renfrewshire District Council Jan 2014.

Meeting space with wi-fi near Glasgow Airport /Paisley

2DNeed a temporary space to meet/work near Glasgow Airport or Paisley ?
Why not try Ashtree House Hotel’s public areas. We have 2 beautiful drawing rooms in which to sit and enjoy free Wi-Fi with a wonderful ambience and with printing and other office back up services available. Exclusive use meeting rooms are also available just call 0141 848 6411 or e-mail the Hotel to book. You can enjoy free parking in our exclusive courtyard car park or even utilise our airport transport.
To take advantage of our facilities all you have to do is get here and buy coffee. Other goodies are available.

Hotel near Glasgow Airport

Tom Stewart

Looking for a Hotel near Glasgow International Airport but want something a little different ?

Ashtree House Hotel is a lovely 14 bedroom ’boutique style’ property within a pair of 1795 Georgian Regency Town or Merchants houses located within secluded walled gardens right in the middle of Paisley but only minutes walk from the Abbey, Museum and University. Also within the vicinity there are numerous little pubs, restaurants and shops so there is a lot of interest on the doorstep.

Importantly, Ashtree House Hotel is only 10 minutes drive from the Airport. Glasgow City centre is also only 10 minutes away by frequent train services.

So, you will experience almost 1000 years of history and be in the middle of an ancient townscape that attracts film crews and tourists alike to the town. Surely this is better than being stuck in a modern Hotel with very little to see and…

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