Sligo businesses get in tune with the Fleadh
The All-Ireland Fleadh Cheoil will be bigger that people's wildest expectations. That's the message from Fleadh chairman Bartley Gavin to the business people of Sligo.
And those people are now certainly 'Getting in Tune With the Fleadh'.
That's the name of a new campaign, to be driven largely by social media. Its message: Sligo is ready and waiting to welcome visitors.
The campaign is a collaborative effort involving Team Sligo, Failte Ireland, Sligo Chamber, Sligo County Council, Fleadh organisers and the business community of Sligo.
Those participating in the campaign are signing up to a charter promising quality, value and top class service to visitors.
Michael O'Hehir, of O'Hehir's Bakery, told The Sligo Champion: "It's signing up to good customer service, about giving information about what's going on in Sligo and giving an assurance of top service, not only for the Fleadh but for the years to come."
The ultimate objective is to ensure all visitors enjoy a wonderful, welcoming experience in Sligo.
More than 400,000 people are expected to throng the town for the Fleadh. It's estimated €40m will be generated during the event.
Each business signing up to the charter will receive a sticker and poster to be placed in their premises.
Special 'In Tune With the Fleadh' t-shirts are available from Jako.
Businesses are also being encouraged to dress their windows with Fleadh related materials.
A prize of €333 is on offer in three categories, pubs, restaurants and retail.
The 'In Tune With the Fleadh' has its own marketing campaign.
This will include its own brand, social media channels and digital advertising.
It is encouraging Sligo businesses to sign up to the charter and share pictures of their staff and business premises highlighting their commitment to visitors.
Sligo Chamber CEO Paul Keyes said: "This campaign has received a great response from business owners already.
"The campaign is centred on ensuring the visitor experience in Sligo is positive and welcoming."
He also urged all businesses to support the Fleadh financially so that Sligo could maximise what he described as "a wonderful opportunity" the voluntary committee of the Fleadh had provided.
He continued: "Research shows visitors come and enjoy the 'event' and come back if they enjoy the 'experience'.
"And the 'experience' will depend on how we interact with the visitor.
"It's public and private sectors working together for Sligo to make Sligo grow.
"The importance of this is the legacy.
"After the Fleadh and when the dust settles, we will be stronger and more cohesive."
County Council Chief Executive Ciaran Hayes spoke of the array of attributes Sligo had to attract visitors.
And the Fleadh, he said, was "the jewel in the crown."
He continued: "We have the opportunity this year and next year to achieve something.
"If we all pull together, we can achieve the top-tier tourist status that Sligo should have had years ago.
"If visitors have a good experience, Sligo will benefit from that experience."
Fleadh Chairman Bartley Gavin said the Fleadh essentially was a community endeavour.
He added: "It's key to us to have every sector of the community with us."
He said perhaps none was as important as the business community because it was they who would provide the visitor experience.
Businesses were also contributors to the Fleadh.
"No matter how wild your expectations, it will be bigger than that," Mr Gavin said.
Kevin Quinn, of Team Sligo, said there were two things he wished to get across in his message.
One was that Sligo businesses were 100% behind the Fleadh for 2014 and 2015.
Second was for Sligo to use the Fleadh as "an opportunity to upsell Sligo."
He said: "It gives us two unmissable opportunities showcase what Sligo has to offer nationally and internationally.
"Sligo has never been more ready to seize the opportunity. There is a sea-change in Sligo. There is a positive attitude.
"It's our responsibility to ensure everyone has a fantastic experience and a very positive experience of Sligo town.
"It's a huge, huge opportunity."
Denise Rushe, of Starling Digital, outlined details of the social media effort that's part of the "Get In Tune With the Fleadh" campaign.
She said: "This campaign is about highlighting that Sligo's business community is working together to offer a world-class experience"
She urged people to use the hash-tag 'sligointune' when using social media.
She also asked people to share pictures and positive stories about Sligo, it's people, and their workplaces.
Brian Quinn, of Failte Ireland, spoke about the importance of the Wild Atlantic Way in promoting Sligo.
He said: "It's a very big project for us. We need something that resonates with visitors.
"It's not about the route. It's about the experience people will have as they engage with people along the way."
"This is a fantastic opportunity for Sligo. This is your opportunity to engage with this."