From a marketing point of view it was very well done because in order to participate you had to stay in the hotel.
Loreto took the Friday off of work and we left Dublin at lunchtime. We stopped in Carrick-on-Shannon for a coffee and arrived in Rosses point around 4. The hotel has a leisure centre with a pool, so I went for a swim. For my 60th birthday, Ciara, my daughter, gave me a birthday present of a years membership of Coolmine Pool. I got the hint. Tone up and lose the belly. So I started back swimming after about 15 or 20 years and gave myself a goal. I tell everyone to give themselves goals, so I decided to follow my own advice. I wanted to swim a mile. That’s 64 lengths of a 25m pool. It took me four weeks, but I did it. Don’t even think on commenting that 4 weeks to swim 64 lengths is a long time. The next goal was to reduce the time from 53 minutes to 45 minutes. I did it. And on that Friday afternoon, I brought it down to 40 minutes. I felt really proud of myself. Burning off a few calories before the eating and drinking of the night.
On the Saturday afternoon, I hit the pool again. This pool is only 20m long, so I had to do 80 lengths. I hit 80 and felt OK so I decided to go for the 100. I got as far as 96 and 2 women got into the lane and started bouncing off me. I was furious because I was knackered and four lengths away from my target. Besides, I thought to myself, why didn’t they get into the other lane where there was a guy just messing about? I ‘politely’ asked them to leave me alone for four more lengths. They did and I apologised for biting at them. But, I hit my target of 2 km in 50 minutes. More calorie burning before the night!
It transpired that the FallGuys is run by a 70 year old retired school head teacher and his wife, who is also a retired school head teacher. From a business perspective, I think that is brilliant. It shows that age should not get in the way of running a business.
Entertainment was from a guy on a guitar. Boy, could he make that talk. He was brilliant. On talking to him afterwards, it seems that he does not want to progress himself as an artist because he feels that the music scene in rural Ireland is tied up by a few agents. But, there is always a way. I have written more than 60 music biographies on www.DPNLIVE.com and taken the business angle.
Saturday night was fancy dress and every table at the MM event had to do a party piece on the Saturday night. My table had no singers or so I thought and I sing like a crow. It transpired that one lady ‘was volunteered’ to sing. She was brilliant. It seems that she is a wedding singer. She started doing it for her son, because he plays the guitar and keyboards and she wanted to introduce him to the business. But she doesn’t want to bring it any further. Also, many people didn't know about the fancy dress on the Saturday and had to improvise, like us. Because The FallGuys is an acting company, I assume they have a selection of costumes. They could have rented out costumes for a fiver or tenner on the night.
On the way home on Sunday, we wanted to stop for lunch somewhere. We hit Carrick-on-Shannon around 1.30 and decided that it was too soon after a humungous breakfast. So we decided to keep going. We passed through Jamestown, Dromod, Roosky and Newtown Forbes. Nothing. So we decided to keep going to Longford. In Longford, there was a football match, but that didn’t delay us and we continued into the town. We found a Chinese restaurant called Sunshine. It was €8.90 for Sunday lunch – all you can eat. We decided that was for us. We went in, and to our surprise, we were the only ones in the restaurant. That made us feel a little uneasy, but we stayed anyway. The waitress could not have done more for us. We got a starter and main course. And during the main course, two more people came in. The food was great, the service was great, value was great, décor was great, so why were there not more people there? My business head began thinking. They should promote themselves better and they didn’t have a website. Then, we left and walked around the town. It was as dead as a door nail. We decided we wanted a coffee, so we went to a sign for a coffee shop. The cafe was closed.
I know that rural Ireland is suffering at the moment, but if they don’t open their shops and make it encouraging for people to visit them, they won’t get any business. Sunshine was open, but they were suffering because everyone else was closed. Why don’t the businesses get themselves together and draw up a plan to encourage more vibrancy and get people into town? Complacency is not the answer.
During the weekend, I saw business and marketing in action. Yeats Country Hotel filled their hotel during a poor season. But they also decided that from that Sunday, they were closing the hotel during mid week. Only opening at the weekends until Spring. The FallGuys showed that age is not a restriction in running a business and they set the bar very high for the next MM weekend we go to. Rural Ireland was dead on the way home. Longford should have been alive, but it wasn’t. Sunshine Chinese Restaurant was showing the way by being open and offering superb value for money. But, they should promote themselves better. The brilliant guitarist felt locked out by the music agents in rural Ireland and our wedding singer, who is good enough to be a professional, also doesn’t want to progress her singing career.