A large number of tourism related businesses from Laois and surrounding areas met on the 12th June in the Midlands Park Hotel for a speed networking event.
The novel concept enables businesses to network with related or complementary businesses and make new connections.
Speed was the name of the game with each set of businesses meeting for 2 minutes each.
Both businesses had a 30 second pitch and one minute to chat and swap cards and brochures.
The main aim of the evening was to make as many connections as possible and get a deeper understanding of what other tourism initiatives are happening in Laois.
The event was organised by Laois Tourism as part of their ongoing commitment to market and promote Laois.
Speaking about how the event came about Jackie Carroll said,
“We have been out and about meeting a large number of businesses in Laois and it is clear that there are a lot of people working hard to grow their businesses and a lot of interest in developing new tourism products and experiences.
“There is energy and excitement in the county at the moment as people realise the huge potential that Laois has in terms of location, beautiful built and natural heritage, food and things to do.
“The number of small tourism businesses is growing and we want to support them in their development. Our speed networking event is our first event to enable businesses to interact and engage.”
- The benefits of the evening included:
- Making new connections
- Meeting people in similar situations
- Finding new ways to do business
- Getting referrals
On the night almost every sector within the tourism space was represented from hotels, festivals, food, beverages, equestrian, gardens, retail, activity providers and business groups.
Businesses ranged from the very established to just emerging.
Sarah O’Dwyer from Failte Ireland and Ann Shields from Laois Partnership were both available on the night to provide expert help.
Sarah detailed the role of Ireland’s Ancient East marketing initiative and how Laois businesses could be listed on their site.
Ann Shields explained the funding options that may be available to businesses through the LEADER programme. We are fortunate in Laois to have such great collaboration with government agencies.
Philip Crean of Barrowline Cruises said “It was great for our businesses Barrowline Cruises and Barrow Way Bike Hire.
“We thought we knew everyone but we met so many tourism businesses based in Laois. Looking forward to the industry working together to promote all we have to offer”.
Donal Brennan, Director of Services at Laois County Council and a member of Laois Tourism board said,
“I was delighted to see so many businesses and tourist interests at the recent 'speed networking' event organised by the Laois Tourism Board at the Midland Park hotel.
“The event was the latest step in delivering on the Tourism Strategy and building a collaborative tourism industry within the county.
“I was particularly delighted to welcome Sarah O’Dwyer from Failte Ireland to the event and to witness the interactions of the various businesses between themselves and with the Failte Ireland representative.”
Liz McPherson of BakedbyLiz a new confectionary business based in Donaghmore said,
“This was the first time I attended an event like this and was worried if I'd be able to talk to strangers about what I do but everyone there was so friendly and I ended up thinking the time (two minutes) wasn't long enough .
“I made loads of connections and hope to keep in touch with everyone into the future and hopefully be able to help each other out business-wise.
Many established businesses were present and Ladonna McCartan of Nook and Cranny, The Pantry and Rose and Alice said ‘An event of this kind was a really novel way to bring together a variety of people in business around the County.
“For me, its benefits were twofold;
1. It allowed us all to make brief two-way introductions to quickly learn more about what’s available on our doorstop and
2; it had us each question whether an opportunity exists to work more closely in a co-operative manner going forward.
“I felt the event flipped a kind of ‘we’re-in-this-together’ switch and there was tremendous positivity and energy in the room which no doubt the guys from Laois Tourism will have harnessed for the next part of their plan. It’s an exciting time for tourism in Laois.‘
The second part of the meeting examined the development of a new brand for Laois Tourism that could capture the special essence of Laois.
There was a general concensus that Laois has a beautiful and lush natural environment that is almost completely unspoilt, that Laois people were exceptionally warm and friendly and we have a unique offering to tourism.
In short there was a feeling that we had a truly wonderful raw material and experiences to work with.
In summary the event was a great success. There is lots of good things happening in Laois and by working together we can realise the potential quicker and more effectively.
The next event will take place in September.