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The one and only time that I have visited The Merlin in Swindon was on Saturday the 15th of September in 2018.

It was at around 5.15 after a fine 2-1 win for Bury FC at the nearby County Ground. We only stayed for one pint before making our way up the hill to the Goddard Arms in the old town, where we were staying for the weekend.

I guess that I must have logged onto the Wi-Fi in both those pubs as I still receive emails from both of them telling me about special offers and upcoming events.

Jeff Hoyle (52261735)
Jeff Hoyle (52261735)

They are not the only pubs that do this. Monday 4th March the following year was wet and windy. We were on our way home from watching rugby in Newport and stopped in Cheltenham for a couple of days to take in the Bury game on the Tuesday evening.

This gave us chance to catch a performance of Glengarry Glen Ross at the theatre on the Monday evening and afterwards have a pint next door. I remember it well, because as soon as they had served us, they flung all the doors open and started stacking chairs on the tables.

I subsequently complained to the management and received an apology of sorts, but I was in no hurry to visit again. Still, that doesn’t stop them sending me upbeat and optimistic emails hoping for my custom, and I don’t mind this. Their bar staff may leave a little to be desired, but top marks to their marketing staff. Likewise, to Thetford Bell, Hillington Ffolkes Arms, Sedgeford King William and all the rest that keep me up to date and try to entice me in with their news and offers.

Which brings me to the Corn Exchange Cinema. I have seen several films there since it opened and was delighted to discover that there was a series of free screenings recently. What a great opportunity for the marketing department. Surely, they will give us a leaflet detailing the programme for the next few weeks. Perhaps we will be invited to fill out a survey to collect our demographic details, cinema going habits and impression of the facilities. Perhaps we will be invited to comment on the programme.

Maybe we will be invited to sign up for a weekly or monthly email which details future performances.

I don’t have qualifications or experience in marketing, but would it be worth issuing loyalty cards maybe with 10 per cent off purchases from the café area? As you have probably realised, none of these things happened. Instead, I have to look up the Corn Exchange on the net and click through about four screens to find that I have already seen two of their offerings at the Majestic.

Don’t get me wrong. I think the facilities are great and the staff on the desk are really pleasant, but I want it to succeed and be well used. I think that there is an important lesson to be learned, that however good the product is, it needs to be marketed properly. And maybe I learned a lesson as well.

The film we saw was Sense and Sensibility, the Emma Thompson and Hugh Grant version, Not only was it an entertaining way to spend a Sunday afternoon, but after watching it I think I have finally learned to appreciate Jane Austen which may mean an end to the eye rolling and sighs from me at the Marriott’s coffee quizzes when Rebecca slips in the obligatory question on her works.



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