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Chee-A-Tow: BSW must make changes to be profitable

Attendance from the general public was disappointing, a chief organizer at Bahamas Speed Week (BSW) admitted, but the support of sponsors and local businesses should provide a bedrock to build upon in the future.

David McLaughlin from BSW was pleased with the “amazing response” from the Nassau business community.

“Given the current economic climate, I thought the sponsorship was excellent. The Ministry of Tourism is also very supportive, so from that point of view, it went very well,” he said.

Speaking to Guardian Business from within the Paddock Club, a venue for the entrants to meet and mingle with elite members of the local business community, the busy scene was in stark contrast to the sparse grandstands throughout other parts of the temporary circuit. Meanwhile, local restaurants and vendors enjoyed only a moderate uptick in customers, as the general public failed to turn out in the numbers originally hoped.

“More marketing is needed, and I think there is a lack of understanding from the general public,” McLaughlin added.

Wayne Chee-A-Tow, the CEO of Hillside Investment Co., served as one of the title sponsors for BSW.

As the head of a number of high-end shops in New Providence, Carlo Milano sponsored the Friday Bay Street Road Show.

“It was nice to see the street closed and people walking around Bay Street,” he said. “I think it should be more like that in the future. We do big business on Paradise Island, so why not Bay Street. The potential is there.”

Chee-A-Tow felt opening the street was successful, but he certainly noticed that the crowds were not as robust as expected. Having invested around $200,000 as a sponsor, he pointed out “we need to look at it as a means to make money”.

Changes will need to be made for next year, he said, which may include shrinking the size of the area and making it more concentrated if the numbers aren’t there. Marketing also needs to be reexamined to help promote more involvement and enthusiasm from the local community.

While Chee-A-Tow had planned to set up a Carlo Milano booth for the general public, he decided to cancel it due to lack of numbers.

“We really need to sit down, measure the pros and cons and advertise more for next year,” he told Guardian Business.

Another way to energize the event would be to position the Paddock Club at the end of the site, forcing more people to walk through the various booths and stands that had been set up by local sponsors. Like in a store, you place the most enticing items at the back to promote browsing and visibility.

Carlo Milano, Graycliff, Shell, Pictet Bank, EFG International, Bahamas Ferries, Red Bull, Ardastra Gardens, Bahamas Waste and Callenders & Co. were all among the sponsors for BSW this year.

“I don’t mind putting up that kind of money the first time around, but ultimately the bottom line is what matters,” Chee-A-Tow said.

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