Plas Heli is raising the profile of the Llyn Peninsula as a tourist destination thanks to support from the National Lottery Community Fund. Marketing Officer, Elin Aaron explains how:
“Wow! What a summer! It’s coming towards the end of August and, on the one hand, the six weeks since we received the keys to Plas Heli have sailed by, but on the other hand it feels like months ago.
Plas Heli is a brand new National Sailing Academy and Events Centre in Pwllheli. The not for profit company which runs the building received a £120,000 Coastal Communities Fund grant to enable it to market the resources for two years. It was following this grant that I was appointed as Marketing Officer over a year ago.
As the first turf was cut for the new building on the same day that I started, my first few months in the job were quite slow and frustrating – with no resources to market, we had to focus on the idea of what the centre would have on offer after opening its doors.
Plas Heli has something to offer to a very wide audience, from the local community and visitors who can call in for a cuppa whilst walking the coastal path, or hire a room for an hour, to the outdoor clubs which use the centre as a hub, to local, national and international events organisers who want to hire the entire site for an evening or a day or a whole week, to the sailors from far who can use our events and new visitors pontoon as a place to drop anchor and experience the welcome, culture and natural resources of the Llŷn Peninsula
Without support from the Coastal Communities Fund it would have been impossible for Plas Heli to start marketing the centre before it opened and make a start along the path to self-sufficiency.
After some time finding my feet, becoming familiar with the sailing market and getting to know something of the community in Pwllheli, I had to design a brand for Plas Heli and start spreading the word in Pwllheli, on the Llŷn Peninsula, in Gwynedd, Wales, Britain and beyond.
Since graduating twelve years ago I have had experience of working with small companies and large organisations in Wales, Britain and beyond, but this is the first time I’ve had the challenge of marketing a company right from the very start. This was an opportunity for me to work with freelance designers to develop an entirely unique, fresh and flexible brand and image for Plas Heli. Following the support from the Coastal Communities Fund I had a budget, a tight budget, but it was sufficient to ensure that the work was done properly and to a standard to enable us to compete internationally.
The builders completed their work in the middle of July and we prepared to welcome 256 sailors from 37 different countries. Despite the timetable being a bit tight, we were ready-ish!
Since receiving the keys on the 16th of July we have held 4 national championships, 3 international championships with 1,479 sailors from 41 countries and 406 volunteers – all of whom stayed, ate and enjoyed locally, thus contributing towards the area’s economy. It has been a very busy 6 weeks!
The sailors will leave at the end of this month and on the face of it things will be quiet once more at Plas Heli, but we will all be starting on marketing activities with the aim of attracting all sorts of events for our professional team to work on. From international sailing championships to weddings, gigs, concerts, conferences, parties, fairs and trying to attract sailors from Ireland to Plas Heli, Pwllheli and the Llŷn Peninsula.”
The Coastal Communities Fund (CCF) is funded by the Welsh Government and administered by the National Lottery Community Fund. It aims to encourage the economic development of coastal communities by awarding funding to create sustainable economic growth and jobs.