Stone Food & Drink Festival grows its appeal

"Once again, the results from the Staffordshire University visitor survey have proven very interesting reading. With a blockbusting gate of over 18,000 coming through the gates at Westbridge Park over the three days last year we had a feeling that we’d attracted a lot more visitors from further afield - and it’s great to see the survey back this up. It proves that we are meeting our dual aims of bringing visitors into Stone along with their money to boost the local economy."

Stone Food and Drink Festival Chairman, Richard Stevens

Stone's annual food and drink festival attracted more than twice as many visitors from outside the town than in the previous year, it has been revealed.

The full results from a visitor survey undertaken by Staffordshire University at the 2017 Stone Food & Drink Festival reports a significant rise in the number of visitors travelling to the event from out of town.

The survey, now in its third year, saw academic staff and Tourism and Events students from the Business School conduct some 574 visitors surveys over three days during the Westbridge Park event; asking a range of questions relating to visitor experience and expenditure.

The results from the event – which has been running since 2005 and now attracts in the region of 18,000 visitors - have been collated, analysed and presented in a report by BA (Hons) Tourism Management student, Grace McPherson, as part of her final year dissertation.

Key findings were that 72% of respondents lived outside Stone - a significant increase on the 32.9% who said they lived outside Stone the previous year – although only 4% were overnight visitors.

As well as attracting more visitors from outside town, some 60% of survey respondents were return visitors to the event and 48% were adult couples.

Grace, who graduates in July with a First, said: "The experience was really beneficial and the skills I have developed will be extremely useful throughout my career.

"This survey showed that more people were attending from outside Stone which is an indication that the marketing really worked. It’s good to know that the surveys, carried out by Staffordshire University, are really useful to organisers and helping to inform their marketing."

Visitor satisfaction was high – among those surveyed, 54% were 'very satisfied' and 40% said they were 'satisfied' and over half said that they would actively promote the event to friends and colleagues*.

Over the past two years, the survey has calculated the event’s annual estimated economic impact to be in excess of £950,000. Average spend at the festival last year equates to £30 per person although this rose to an average of £40 per person for those aged between 45 – 54.

Festival Chairman, Richard Stevens, says: "Once again, the results from the Staffordshire University visitor survey have proven very interesting reading. With a blockbusting gate of over 18,000 coming through the gates at Westbridge Park over the three days last year we had a feeling that we’d attracted a lot more visitors from further afield - and it’s great to see the survey back this up. It proves that we are meeting our dual aims of bringing visitors into Stone along with their money to boost the local economy.

"We’d like to say a huge thanks to the staff and students at Staffordshire University for their support – especially Professor John Fairburn and to Grace for all her hard work on analysis and producing the report."

The 2018 Stone Food & Drink Festival will take place from Fri 5th Sept - Sun 7th Oct and organisers once again have plans for expansion, with old favourites such as the gourmet marquee, farmers’ market, chef demonstrations, cookery classes, talks & tastings, beer tent and pop-up restaurant in addition to a host of exciting new events. For more visit www.stonefooddrink.org.uk

*Based on Net Promotor score calculation of 51.9% from the 2017 survey. The Net Promoter Score is an index ranging from -100 to 100 that measures the willingness of customers to recommend a company's products or services to others. The BBC Good Food Show in London scored 44% (http://riverstreetevents.co.uk/bbc-good-food-show---london.html)

About the Stone Food & Drink Festival: The Stone Food & Drink Festival is a non-profit organisation, founded in 2004 to bring the community together to celebrate the very best of local produce. Since the first event in 2005, the festival has gone from strength to strength – in 2017 attracting some 20,000 visitors to town during festival week and seeing over 18,000 pass through the gates of the main festival site at Westbridge Park. Attended by leading businesses, pubs and producers from across the county and beyond, it is recognised as an excellent platform to promote food and drink.

Contact

Maria Scrivens
Media Relations Manager
Marketing and Public Relations
L600, Flaxman Building
College Road
Stoke-on-Trent
ST4 2DE
t: +44 (0)1782 294375
m: 07766 520339
e: m.c.scrivens@staffs.ac.uk