A Conversation With Amy Ralph From Jurassic Coast Card
Photos supplied by Jurassic Coast and Toby Ralph, Obsideo Images
Hi Amy, tell me about your background and career so far?
I don’t quite know how I’ve ended up doing what I’m doing, as my background is in horticulture and environmental education! I worked in Bristol & Avon working with school children to create wildlife gardens, ponds and living willow structures, then after moving to Dorset worked as a gardener, including a few years working for Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall at his home in West Dorset. I had several years out to raise a family, so this is a new start, with a completely different approach. I have done freelance marketing and social media work for several clients, so that has given me some useful transferable skills, and the idea for the Jurassic Coast Card came about because of people I met through my blog, ‘Fossils in My Pockets’.
What have some of your challenges been to date?
The biggest challenge with the Jurassic Coast Card has been convincing people to put their faith in a new & unknown brand. However, the enthusiasm I’ve met along the way has encouraged me that I’m on the right track, and we now have over 100 businesses on board.
What have some of your most notable successes been to date?
It may sound shallow but I absolutely love the branding! I worked with Coastline Creative in Lyme Regis, who were full of ideas and ‘got it’ straight away. The waves are the waves of the sea but also the strata in the rock, and the colours represent the three main rock types of the Jurassic Coast and the sea. I deliberately steered away from ammonites and grey/browns, as this has been done so many times. I am also proud of the mix of businesses we have on board, from the big names like Seaton Tramway and Pecorama, to relative unknowns and start-ups. It’s just what I was hoping for. I hope there are many more to come.
What is the vision of your organisation?
To get locals acting like tourists! To get people out exploring, discovering places on their doorsteps and further afield, and mitigating the seasonal nature of the economy in the area. I’d love to see Jurassic Coast Card stickers in every town, and in every kind of business, so that locals and visitors can make the most of what’s on offer.
Describe your organisation’s cultural values?
Cream before jam.
What does the future hold for you?
I have no idea! I’d love to see the Jurassic Coast Card expand to cover the whole territory, and get sales to that critical mass where it really takes off.
What sorts of targets or KPI’s do you work towards on a daily / weekly / monthly / annual basis?
As the tourist business is seasonal, so do I have to be, so targets vary throughout the year. For example, autumn is all about signing up new partner businesses, while spring is all about selling Annual Passes, and summer is time for Holiday Passes.
What one piece of advice has stood you in good stead during your career to date?
I think I’m still waiting for that piece of advice – if anyone has the perfect tip, I’d love to know! I have a few friends who are very good sounding boards, and I know who to consult about what. I don’t always listen, though…
What advice would you give yourself if you could time-travel back 10 years?
“You can do it!” I think being a full-time parent before running a business can be disastrous for confidence levels. You are out of the business world, and it all feels quite rarefied and exclusive. However, I soon learnt that everyone is human, and I think it’s important to remind yourself that if they can do it, why shouldn’t you?
What are the values that drive you (personally and professionally)?
That’s not something I’ve ever had to put into words before, but as a first reaction I’d say decency, community and generosity. I’m glad to say these are all things I’ve found in abundance in East Devon, especially amongst the tourism businesses I’ve worked with. There is no competitive in-fighting – everyone is in it together, and sharing time, resources and information is standard. I have loved travelling around meeting all the business owners, as everyone takes a pride in their business and their area and is keen to work together to strengthen the region. I am a great believer in community, whether it’s a school, a village or a county, and I think together we are stronger.
Could you recommend a book that you have recently read?
I am currently half-way through ‘Sleeping Beauties’ by Stephen King, and it’s gripping so I keep sloping off to read a bit more. It’s about a world without women – let’s just say it doesn’t go well!