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Quainton News Archive - Quainton News No. 25 - Autumn 1975

Publicity Survey - by Reg and Janice Uphill

Or .... As our Visitors see us!
By Reg and Janice Uphill

Our motto in the Publicity Department is to 'Inform the maximum number of potential visitors of our Open Days while spending the minimum amount of Quainton funds in the effort!' so last winter we devised a simple questionnaire to find out where our publicity could best be directed.

We deliberately kept the questions simple and four in number, so that we could get information from as many people as possible. Those of you who come to Quainton at Easter may have seen members wandering around with clip boards busily chatting up the visitors, and here are the results.

On Saturday, out of the 775 visitors, we asked 80 people; on Sunday, out of the total of 1,750 visitors we asked 73 people; and on Monday, out of 4,950 we asked 169; 342 in all. This was not as high a percentage as we would have liked, but each person interviewed probably represented at least one other person, so the results are better than at first glance. Unfortunately we were hampered by the bleak weather - a lot of people just did not want to stop and talk! Anyway we hope that the answers are a fair representation of the views of the 7475 visitors to Quainton in the three days.

The questions asked were, 1. "How did you find out we were holding a special event?"; 2. "Where have you travelled from?"; 3. "How did you come here?"; 4. "Is this your first visit?"; 5. "Would you come again?"; and, 6. "Any comments?"

Question 1 gave the most surprising answers, in that 24% came because they read our posters, 15% heard about us from someone, 2% were just passing through, 13% came after reading the Railway World or 'Railway Magazine advertisements', i.e. 54% came as a result of very low cost advertising. It was not possible always to ask people where they saw the posters, but many were seen on works noticeboards, so it does show that this publicity which you, the members, do in displaying posters, has a positive effect. If you can think of any other noticeboards which might take our posters, please do ask me for some more because the cost of having extra printed is small.

Naturally the Bucks Herald, covering Aylesbury and Quainton brought in the largest number of people, 22; with the Bucks Free Press, 18; and the Watford Observer, 16, coming second and third. From the answers to Question 2, it seems that the majority of our visitors come from within a 40 miles radius of Quainton, and we therefore intend to concentrate our publicity more in this area, while keeping in mind any opportunities for advertising to a wider area. People did come from as far afield as Hastings, Coventry, York, Herne Bay, Darlington, Grimsby, Rugby and Japan!

Of the visitors interviewed 294 people came by car and more than 57 were questioned while actually travelling on the dmu from Aylesbury! Unfortunately these dmu surveys were put in with the rest, and as these people answered question 3 by saying how they got to Aylesbury, we do not know how many went on the dmu afterwards! Judging, however, by the number of people getting out of the train at Quainton, it was a record turnout, which was just as well in view of the flooded condition of the car park. We had advertised in the Bucks Herald suggesting people travelled by train, and notices were put by the roundabouts in Aylesbury also encouraging people to come by train, so it shows that some people do read notices!

220 people told us it was their first visit to Quainton and 100 said they had been before; 293 said they would visit us again and 24 said they would not. This was a surprise because we had always assumed that most of our visitors had been before. We wonder whether more people would have said they would not come again had the interviewers not been obvious Quainton members! The same observation applies to the subject of adverse comments because we feel that some people might have been inhibited in making an adverse criticism. For this reason we were particularly glad to hear some suggestions for possible improvement. 71 people said things like "Excellent", "Interesting", "Wonderful" and "Good job", and there were also remarks such as "Prices reasonable", "We like the informality", "Signalling section members very helpful." We are not sure if this last remark meant they were good at moving the trains or were adept at answering questions! The most telling comment was that the lavatories had improved, and one mother went so far as to say she would not have come again had it not been for the improved lavatories!

Of the adverse criticism, some things are beyond our control such as the requests to use the Gresley buffet car, the fact that a longer train isn't possible and the problem of congestion on the footbridge. We should, however, take note of some of the complaints which can be acted on, for example, the fact that too much stock is covered, the difficulty of seeing the stock in the short siding and the apparently slow progress in restoring some items at Quainton. Visitors say they do not come to look at dirty tarpaulins, and ask to have the stock uncovered at Open Days time, even if the side sheets are left on to keep people from climbing into the cabs. Two people asked for a map of the site, and judging by the number of people who asked the way to the Gents, we should have more direction signs.

Certainly on the Monday afternoon when it was very crowded, a newcomer to the site could well have been rather confused as to where everything was.

Some people said they thought the site and stock was rather untidy and others complained that there some lack of preparation of locos. Three visitors asked for the stock to be labelled, one to be shown how the steam engine works, five wanted better access to the stock and one proposed a mock up engine cab! Speaking now as the private owners of 'Chislet', we are against allowing people on our locomotive partly because of damage to paintwork but, of more importance, from the safety angle. Two people said the selection of food was inadequate (we dispute this!) and asked why we not use the main shed for refreshments. Three people complained that the sales shop opened late, one said there was insufficient films in the shop and enquired why did we not sell steam tapes and discs (we do so now). One person asked for more engines in steam, another thought we should have more people working on the stock, and a third person asked if there could be guided tours!

Many of these criticisms cannot be dealt with at the moment, because they cost too much or need manpower which is not available, but as publicity officers we have taken note that more local posters or road signs are needed and we shall try and do better next time! Certainly we have noted all the comments, favourable or otherwise.

We would like to thank those members who helped us with our survey, and in particular one member we had not seen for months, who was pressed into service almost as soon as he walked in the gate! We do hope you feel that your efforts were worthwhile, and that everyone reading this article will appreciate the useful knowledge gained from the survey.

1 - Obviously we can no longer supply these items at the prices offered in 1975, if at all!

The text in this Quainton Railway Society publication was written in 1975 and so does not reflect events in the 40+ years since publication. The text and photographs are repeated verbatim from the original publication, with only a few minor grammar changes but some clarifying notes are added if deemed necessary. The photos from the original publication are provided as scans in this internet version of this long out of print publication.

Publicity Survey - by Reg and Janice Uphill - Quainton News No. 25 - Autumn 1975

Text © Quainton Railway Society / Photographs © Quainton Railway Society or referenced photographer
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