The whole business of how the council manages tourism and events when viewed from the outside seems like one great disaster area.
I generally have to view it from as far away as Ramsgate and fight with the modern inventions of the telephone and internet, in order to find out what’s on locally.
Anyone who doubts what I mean evidently hasn’t tried ringing up the tourist information office in Margate during the last year and encountered the wonderful and presumably expensive automated switchboard machine, that having made you angry, always seems to send you to the same officer.
Anyone who still doubts this evidently hasn’t tried using the council’s tourist information online.
There are three council funded tourist websites, remember you are paying for this to a greater or lesser extent if you are a uk taxpayer.
Here is the first most recent council tourism website’s page for events this January http://www.warmingwords.org.uk/january.aspx
Here is another http://communityportal.thanet.gov.uk/home/
And last of all here is the one that they pay a private company to manage for them
Some ways of gauging there effectiveness would be the way the covered recent events on their website.
How for instance they covered the recent Broadstairs New Year fireworks fiasco, how the told us the event was on and how they told us the event had been cancelled.
How for instance the covered the recent Ramsgate new Year fireworks that did actually happen.
How for instance they covered the recent royal visit of Her Majesty the Queen to Margate.
The simple answer here is that none of their three tourism websites mentioned any of the above events.
With the recent change from Conservative to Labour leadership at the council cabinet portfolio responsibility for this has changed from Chris Wells to Iris Johnston. Well I had a long chat on the phone with Iris yesterday evening, which was supposed to be about the Broadstairs firework fiasco, not her fault as she came to the job too late.
I then found myself trying to explain to Iris what was wrong with the way the council manage their tourist websites, there were pros and cons here as iris doesn’t understand the internet from the point of view of someone publishing to it, but she does tell you what she thinks you said which is a considerable aid to this sort of communication.
Anyone who has ever played one of those games where everyone sits in a circle and you whisper something to the person next to you who then whispers it to the person next them, until what you said comes back to you as something completely different, will understand what I mean here.
With the royal visit coverage I went to the extent of making a formal complaint about the council’s internet publicity, I hardly ever do this as I am told that it wastes the council’s time when they could be doing something more useful.
Anyway here is the blog post with the complaint and responses for anyone who wants to read it http://thanetonline.blogspot.com/2011/12/thanet-district-council-her-majesty.html
Of these various council funded tourism websites, the one the council obviously sees as the most important feeds its events in a way that they appear on the council’s main website homepage.
At the moment it is the events listed below that appear on the council’s homepage i.e. the most important and expensive part of their whole internet operation.
Added to this is one of the strange TDCIT feed faults so the event vanishes the day before it is on.
I suppose in reflection it is as well that there isn’t anything else important happening in Thanet between now and The Thanet Gang Show in April.
Wait a sec, isn’t some little known artist exhibiting some of his local pictures in a little known gallery somewhere in Thanet.
Here is sketch of him from my sketchbook, of course you won’t recognise him as I can’t paint either.
This next picture is interesting and shows some interesting internet use by the council, you will see that their latest press release the one about the fireworks fiasco has appeared not at the top of the list as one would expect, but further down underneath the one they issued a couple of days ago on the 3rd.
This means that the press release doesn’t appear on the councils facebook wall at all, see http://www.facebook.com/pages/Thanet-District-Council/83700846372?sk=wall
While you ponder why the council would want to put the press release see http://thanetpress.blogspot.com/2012/01/broadstairs-new-years-eve-fireworks.html about the fireworks in the day before yesterday’s paper, you may wish to wonder what the council’s remit is when it comes to leisure.
Looking further into the way the council uses the internet I have been trying to use what I take to be their premier in house events site http://communityportal.thanet.gov.uk/home/
I base the premier on the fact that the events from it feed directly onto the council’s main website homepage and in house on the web address being an extension of the councils main web address.
This is where I think I am going to need some expert help ad I can only find six events listed on it, see http://communityportal.thanet.gov.uk/events/
According to the website the promotion of these six events is part funded by the EEC which sort of makes one wonder how expensive theis is and where the rest of the funding comes from.
I will ramble on about this issue as the day progresses.