By Michael Giles
THE Bass Coast Shire Council tells us that the cost of hosting Stage Three of the Herald-Sun Tour last Saturday, including the thrilling finish at Inverloch, was $10,000.
Of course that doesn’t include the additional expense the shire went to promoting the event and making the route through the shire safe for riders and spectators.
But if that’s true, then it is possibly the best $10,000 the shire has ever spent.
With beautiful weather, a huge crowd, the reigning Tour de France champion in town and blanket publicity in the press, radio and TV; the initiative was a huge success and will, without doubt, have on-going benefits for the shire as a whole and Inverloch in particular.
But the fact is, we could have done, and should have done a lot better.
Much criticism is levelled at the Bass Coast Shire Council, especially during this present debate about challenging the rate cap, on how much the shire spends on consultancies.
The criticism is justified.
We already pay a highly skilled CEO, four extensively credentialed general managers and 12 hand-picked department managers handsome, six-figure sums to plan and make the right calls on most of the issues of the day.
They shouldn’t be employing outside experts as a way of abrogating responsibility for doing their own job.
The money being wasted on a new environmental study for the Surf Parade pathway is a case in point. This work should have stayed in-house.
But there are times when expert advice is needed and such was the case with hosting a stage of the Herald-Sun Tour.
Good marketing people will tell you that events like this should never be promoted in isolation. They should be part of an overall strategy that runs up to the event and continues long afterwards, with Chris Froome’s image and others being used to capitalise on the publicity hit to promote cycling holidays in Bass Coast, the benefits of the Bass Coast lifestyle, healthy living locally and also to leverage bids for government grants.
All this should have been in place, ready to roll out this week and for the next few months.
There should for example, have been a finished project prepared for the government to fund a 40km cycle training course around the route from Inverloch to Wattlebank, Wonthaggi, Cape Paterson and back to Inverloch.
Unlike the ‘Path to Nowhere’ it’s a route that’s already very popular with riders but one which features dangerously narrow pavement in places and several blind spots.
It’s an opportunity lost.
The shire also failed to include the community in its planning for the event until very late in the piece.
The Inverloch Tourism Association, for example, tells us that they weren’t contacted until little more than a week before the riders were to arrive in town.
Accommodation venues weren’t advised directly at all.
On the day, several community groups did turn out; the Lions for a sausage sizzle, the Bass Coast Barracudas for a promotion, 3MFM with an outside broadcast and one or two others.
But it’s Mickey Mouse stuff.
Hopefully the shire will learn its lesson here and take some advice on using its centrepiece events to leverage an overall strategy and they could start by including the community in the conversation – goodness knows they might even come up with a good idea.