Archive for November, 2014

While we all benefit from living in a digital age, the concern being raised in the report ‘Acting today for An Active Tomorrow” by the Sport Advising Group is quite alarming and its recommendations must be adopted.

We read in today’s Western Mail that not only is action required to make sport relevant to all age groups, especially the young, but also that Wales has the highest proportion of obese children in the UK. This fact from the Millennium Cohort Study, together with statistics showing a rise in the number of children between the ages of 7 and 11 who are overweight!

As Rachael Misstear states in her column, the ‘obesity epidemic’ has huge implications for Wales, and Public Health Wales states that ‘tackling childhood obesity’ is a priority area for them.

Healthy-FoodsWe have all been aware for some time that there is a problem in Wales and it is getting more serious by the day. I know that there are already a number of excellent programmes already in place which are run by the governing bodies of various Welsh sports with help from Sport Wales and local authorities, but this does not seem to be enough. Perhaps we really do need a national campaign, directed and possibly funded by the Welsh Government and the private sector to encourage us all, no matter what age or social class, to start taking our health and well-being as a priority in our daily lives?

Active sport is not for everyone but sensitive eating, modest exercise, and outdoor activity can have huge benefits. If nothing is done, our society could collapse under the potential ‘obese epidemic’. We must act now.

Ben Rule, Operations Director for First Great Western

This month we were joined by Operations Director for First Great Western, Ben Rule. Ben was appointed as Operations Director in June 2013 having started his railway career in 1997 with signalling and operational management roles in Railtrack and Network Rail. In his role at First Great Western he is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the railway and manages 3,500 front-line staff.

Ben began his speech to the Breakfast Club by explaining how First Group is one of the largest and most complicated franchises in the country, facilitating 97 million passenger journeys a year. The company currently provides 9,500 services a week, an increase of over 1000 since 2007. First Great Western owns one of the oldest and most diverse train fleets in the country, with a 125mph service operating between London and South Wales.

The company is currently implementing a number of timetable improvements, with the ultimate aim of improving performance whilst balancing factors such as cost. Ben explained that for customers, performance is the key factor. However, “upgrades mean long-term benefits but short term challenges”. This is true of a temporary closure of Severn Tunnel Junction next year and Ben explained how double tracks have been reopened between Gloucester and South Wales to ensure that accessibility is still at the highest possible level.


First Great Western are continually striving to improve services

According to Ben, First Great Western are not satisfied by their current 83% customer satisfaction rate, but acknowledge that it is a significant increase on the 78% that they were scoring in 2007 before the launch of their ‘I’m a Great Westerner’ campaign. Ben also made reference to new features aimed at improving customers’ experiences, such as free wifi on all trains by spring 2015. First Great Western is now also the only train operator in the country to offer a Pullman’s Dining Service.

Ben also spoke of the company’s plans to upgrade existing first class carriages whilst reducing their numbers, in order to increase carriage numbers in standard class. The company hope that by increasing capacity and continuing to offer incentives (such as decreased ticket prices) to travel at less busy times, overcrowding problems on some of their trains will be reduced.

Concluding his presentation, Ben explained First Group’s main aim of “trying to put ourselves back at the heart of communities, particularly in South Wales.” With continued improvements to services he hopes that rail travel will remain popular and provide easy travel for business populations throughout the UK.

The next Breakfast Club will be held on 11th December with guest speaker Sarah Powell, Chief Executive Officer of Sport Wales. For further information and booking details, please or phone 02920 549597.

For a marketing man who started his working life in the media department of an advertising agency, digesting media readers’ life figures from long surveys, I was fascinated to read of how sophisticated the media buyers’ world has now become.

The phrase ‘Out of Home’ may be well-known to a number of ad people but Rob's blog imagethe ‘average’ member of our population (if there is one!) would not have a clue as to its meaning. Let me enlighten you. Out of Home refers to all opportunities that Ad people have to sell or inform you about products or services from the moment you leave home.

Some key facts:

“Consumers spend 25% more time out of their homes that 10 years ago”

“18 hours is the average time working adults spend travelling each week”

So from the moment you close your front door you are a potential target for the specialist OOH Ad man! From posters, in papers, on books, radio or anywhere where potential consumers travel they could be after you! Beware if you use your mobile as they can immediately locate you and then target you to promote specific shops/restaurants/bars etc for your consideration. This is done with such a degree of accuracy that the recipient of such messages can be targeting using visual, sound or even smell and is given relevant information about products and services they were more likely to need; rather than large print advertisements where a large percentage of readers may be totally unsuited for any messages aimed at them.

I believe that with such precise targeting of messages in the future there will be less wastage in promotion budgets and the consumer ultimately will benefit from relevant messages delivered via OOH media channels at no cost to the consumer.

Tim Williams, CEO, Committee for Sydney

Tim Williams, CEO, Committee for Sydney

This month’s Breakfast Club was another busy meeting and we were joined by guest speaker Tim Williams, CEO of the Committee for Sydney. Against the backdrop of Cardiff Bay, Tim gave an insightful and forward thinking talk on Cardiff’s future as a World City.

The Committee for Sydney is an independent think tank with members from all sectors of the city, and is recognised as one of the world’s leading urban renewal thinkers. Before moving to Australia in 2010, Tim was the senior Special Advisor to a number of UK cabinet ministers in the Department of Communities and Local Government, and also previously served as CEO of Thames Gateway Partnership.

Speaking on the first annual World Cities Day, Tim began his talk to the Breakfast Club by discussing global trends in relation to city growth and the significance that they have for city regeneration. He explained how in recent years people have been flocking to cities in what can be seen as the biggest demographic event since the baby boom. Contrary to the past, people are now trading off large homes in the suburbs in favour of homes close to city centres and all that the city can offer. This change can be effectively summed up by the slogan; “Smaller Homes, Shared Spaces, Bigger Lifestyles” and it is absolutely vital that this is considered when planning the future of developing cities such as Cardiff.

Tim also explained that female graduates are redesigning cities in a way which has never been seen before. According to Tim, 25-34 year olds are the key demographic to attract to cities in order to ensure their economic future and this is something that he believes Cardiff is already succeeding in doing.

Breakfast ClubTim believes that public transport development needs to be at the heart of city expansion. He was keen to stress his opinion that the “metro is a vital project” to connect Cardiff and the Valleys and to provide relief for the overused M4 corridor. According to Tim, more road space equals more cars and the proposed M4 relief road is not a sustainable solution to Cardiff’s congestion or accessibility problems. ‘Walkable’ Urban development is ‘becoming the market’ and this is something that Cardiff needs to be aware of and invest in.

Tim concluded his talk by stating that devolution to the Welsh Assembly is essential, but of equal importance is devolution from the Welsh Assembly to the city itself. Cardiff needs to have more power to make effective decisions for itself. Tim strongly believes that “Cardiff’s momentum is real and we need to unleash it further”.

The next Breakfast Club will be held on 19th November with guest speaker Ben Rule, Operations Director of First Great Western. For further information and booking details, please contact or phone 02920 549597.