I have been on the Havelock North Business Association Committee for a few years now, but we are on a major mission and there is some really exciting stuff about to happen.

Havelock North is a ‘town’ within Hastings City so all the Association funding comes from the District Council (thanks HDC). We don’t have a lot of money, and we don’t have staff, but we have a bunch of passionate volunteers who work tirelessly for the members – and for our Village.

The one thing we all know is that people – locals and visitors – LOVE the Village. And we think that’s something worth preserving.

In August we formed a Marketing Committee that was given a mandate to produce a strategic plan to grow visitor numbers and increase the profile of our Village.

A lot has been said about the dreaded “decision by committee” – but get the right people in the room, with the same passion and enthusiasm, and magical things can happen.

The Marketing Committee immediately identified the key need to build a strong brand for The Village, and we knew we had to galvanise the Havelock North business community.

We quickly decided on our key objectives:

  1. Become “the greatest little village in the world”
  2. Fill the accommodation every weekend
  3. Get locals to shop local
  4. Drive supplementary revenue through online

How do you become “the greatest little village in the world”?

Well, we had to start somewhere, so here are a few of things we felt were critical to the success of our strategy:

  1. One consistent voice for marketing
  2. One consistent brand look and feel
  3. Drive members to get involved, to make The Village great together
  4. Put on three events a year that *we* would want to go to ourselves

How are we doing so far?

We have assigned a ‘marketing voice’ – Mac Macpherson from Advintage, and a ‘creative’ – George Williams from Black Dog Design. Both these guys are super-smart, and super-talented. So watch this space!

And the following initiatives are underway:

EVENT No. 1:
On the 16th October we are having a Summer Cocktail Party! Not just any party, but the most important HNBA event held in years.

It’s a fabulous cocktail party designed to deliver a bold new message for The Village, and to briefly outline our plans to the members. And it is critical that all attend.

We think that if they are interested in working in a cooler, more vibrant Village – then of course they will want to come along!!

The Association recently purchased the www.havelocknorthnz.com website and domain name, and we were already running www.havelocknorth.co.nz. Both of these websites are out of date and not optimised for mobile viewing. So the decision was made to spend some funds on redesigning and developing ‘the best destination site in the world”.

So what are visitors looking for? And how do we structure the new website to deliver on their expectations and our objectives?

We simply broke it down into these obvious categories:

  • Events – so people know what is happening in The Village
  • Stay – to make it easy for people to book accommodation (remember we want to fill the accommodation every weekend)
  • Eat & Drink – we are in Hawke’s Bay after all 🙂
  • Do – these are the cool things you can do in and around The Village
  • Shop – who doesn’t like going shopping when they’re away for the weekend??
  • Live – because we want visitors to *want* to live here
  • Work – we have a buzzing little community of service businesses, and they are also part of what makes Havelock North great

The site will offer tiered listings for members and key tourism operators outside the HNBA jurisdiction. Only those businesses who are willing to pay for listings will be showcased, and all revenue from the website will continue to directly fund the promotion of The Village. We are also in the process of developing other online revenue generation strategies.

Finally – we will track and measure all activity and feed back the results to the members on a monthly basis.

We will run a ‘Shop Local’ campaign in November to encourage locals to spend within the Village boundaries. The benefits for local businesses are obvious, but we hope to evoke a sense of duty among the community to support our local businesses.

We know it’s unrealistic to expect that everyone will shop 100% local, but one small change made by every person in The Village, will make one very big difference to the businesses of Havelock North.

Yep, it’s a work in progress, but by crikey I am sure we are on the right track.

Part Two in two weeks…