Newburyport is at a stage where we have proven ourselves recession resistant. (Even in the winter) Though much despised, the ‘Day Visitor’ has ended up becoming our greatest asset. With money tight, so many choose to come to our pleasant area and City rather than to drive or fly off to far away locations. Our high concentration of restaurants and unique shops make it doubly advantages. Even those restaurants and shops that are franchises are located in a pleasant atmosphere without the horrors of congestion and confiscatory parking fees of Boston and Cambridge.
The marinas are reporting record activity and the lowest amount of dry docked boats in nearly a decade. The slips are busy with activity. We are also receiving a record number of foreign visitors unfortunately staying for just a day before heading off to another New England City.
With the recession, we should do everything we can to make Newburyport the mental image of a destination for every tourist and visitor. We should be accommodating, friendly, easy on traffic congestion, easy on parking and easy on navigating. Of course, we have a lot to do to see that happen.
But there is the unseen.
We need to make sure our activities and events are truly memorable ones not mediocre. And that goes with restaurant experiences. We shouldn’t tolerate mediocrity in a dining place. It is important for all of us that every point of activity, lodging, dining and shopping be memorable.
That is how you get them to come back.
I went into a place a few weeks ago where I often order my favorite thing. This time it was done terribly! Even though this was just one bad experience amongst dozens of visits, I am not sure I want to repeat it for fear of having a bad meal. How do you feel if you come all the way to a special place only to get served crap! Someone will mention Newburyport and someone else will say, “No, last time we had a terrible experience.”
In a recession, you can’t afford to let that happen!
The biggest challenge for Newburyport is to expand the multi-stay visitor. This way, when, if ever, the economy rebounds we will be able to expand economically from the base of day visitor. Though criticized by some for not mentioning enough places, the ‘Around Newburyport’ group has the right idea. We need to make an unbeatable list of activities that can be done in the City and the region. (Boy, do we have a bushel full!) We have the beauty of Rockport and the host of things to do of Salem, Mass. (Without the shtick!) Only then, will people feel justified to spend on the plane ticket and spend the lodging costs. It aggravates me that Rockport has 53 lodging locations while we have a tiny handful! That is fifty more hotel employees minimum that could be working in our City.
We have a lot of work to do to see that happen!