‘Real’ people should judge Dome merits

The Millennium Dome has provided us with an endless list of wise men and women who are keen to knock it. Interestingly it seems a high proportion of these are members of the media who have never set foot inside the Dome. Should they not apply the consumer test and visit the Dome before they earn the right to knock it?

My kids visited the Dome on a school trip recently. They are as cynical and worldly-wise as any of today’s future captains of industry and after all the press hullabaloo I fully expected them to come back with damming reports. Not a bit of it. They came back fired with enthusiasm, so much so that we are going back as a family. How many school trips generate a repeat purchase? Not many I suspect; it is certainly a first in our household.

Why, oh why, are we so obsessed with quick return on investment in this country? Where else in the world would they invest &£750m in a national attraction, give it one year’s life and expect a return on investment?

Attracting 300,000 visitors in the first month is not bad. I believe Alton Towers has 1.2 million visitors a year, and I suspect very few, if any, of those are in January. France’s number one tourist attraction is Euro-Disney, look what a shakey start that had and how long it took to turn it around, it certainly took more than a year.

If return on investment is so important to the Dome then the simplest solution to drive up the number of visitors is to build/open a car park. The notion that visitors have to arrive by public transport is laudable and environmentally sound, but it doesn’t make economic or practical sense if you live in Bury St Edmunds, Bolton or Barnsley (or Guildford).

In an ideal world we would use an efficient, well-connected, value for money rail system to visit the Dome, but in reality I would rather brave the motorway system, including the M25. (Take note Mr Prescott, you can’t force us to use an inadequate system. I know, I have applied the consumer test on far too many occasions.)

I will visit the Dome later this month and form my own judgement, but I know two people who think it is a hit already.

Next time you do a report on the success or failure of the Dome, do us all a favour please – ask some real customers, not the professional knockers.

Rupert Trevelyan

UK head of promotions

Compass Group UK

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