Based in Norfolk, Bruce Stratton gives us an insight into his marketing and design business
Bruce established Creative Tourism Ideas and Solutions Limited (CTIS) in 1997 to cater to the demands of the tourism and leisure industry.
“Utilising my own wide experience of both private and public sector tourism and gathering a wealth of talent from elsewhere has over the years helped make CTIS a successful force within the industry.
Self-motivated, direct, yet understanding I am passionate about my business and always looking for new opportunities to establish working relationships with new clients. Through my work in the industry I have gained a considerable knowledge and understanding, which combined with my skills in print, design and marketing have helped create a successful business.
As a company we say yes and then consider how we will deal with the question in terms of delivering the very best to our clients.
Over the years CTIS has established a considerable skill base using creative’s and specialists in every element of design, print and marketing, from large format printing to quality design and a wide range of marketing ideas that together can offer clients all they need to develop or promote a product.
This has allowed CTIS to expand its client base and it now offers its services to an even wider range of businesses in North Norfolk. Further afield CTIS has worked with businesses including from the world of entertainment acts and performers including Britain’s Got Talent finalist Ventriloquist Steve Hewlett, Comedienne Jo Little, 60’s band The Applejacks, ‘Cliff as If’ the UK’s No1 Performing Cliff Richard Lookalike. Comedians Paul Eastwood and Phil Butler, Elfinstar Productions, Kent, Bus companies including Konectbus in arts and leisure The Belfry Arts Centre, The Outdoor Pursuits Company Pellpax, and our most distant client ADRC Medical in South Sudan.
We are delighted to have expanded our services and as part of that can now offer an ever increasing range of original photographs.
Having built up long-term relationships with many of our clients has allowed CTIS to work on larger projects that can sometimes create opportunities that can benefit several clients by saving them costs and giving them a broader exposure to potential new business. Within the tourism and leisure industry there are any number of businesses that all require the very same thing people, and sometimes those can be the same people.
Coach companies want bums on seats and so do theatres, while hotels want bums in beds and cafes and restaurants want to see the seats all taken.
So by working with a number of companies and creating opportunity CTIS can very often satisfy the demands of many.
Our manta ‘Consider, React, Resolve’ has stood us in good stead for many years”.
Tel 01263 515900
Mob 07850 050715
Why Cromer in Norfolk?
“I moved to Norfolk after working in the private sector on the Isle of Wight, the West Country and six months in Southampton for the then fledgling bus company Solent Blueline that was then owned by Southern Vectis for whom I worked. At that time my main task was to create awareness and come up with an event that would put Solent Blueline in the public eye. This culminated in an event in Ocean Village Southampton and the naming of 24 double deckers after local hero’s and good causes and the first ever colour bus for Solent Blueline promoting the then BBC Radio Solent’s Nick Girdler Show.
It was around that time that it seemed right for a change and I applied for the position of Tourism Development Officer at North Norfolk District Council and was successful in gaining the post. Among my main achievements while working with the council was the development of A Day Out in North Norfolk an annual trade event to which coach operators, group organisers were invited. I was also responsible for the design and production of the council’s main tourism guides and worked with the Pavilion Theatre (then run by NNDC) on the promotions for the summer season.
In 1997 NNDC decided to reorganise departments and I took a redundancy package and set up Creative Tourism Ideas and Solutions Ltd (CTIS).
It was at that time going to be a short term operation as the aim was to leave Norfolk and travel but the North Norfolk bug bit me and I am still here and loving every minute of it. It is without a doubt one of the best places to live and work in the UK and I count myself very lucky that I have such a terrific client base many of whom I now consider to be friends which makes working alongside them a real dream.
I live in the village of Overstrand just 2 miles from my office in Cromer and I can if I choose walk along the beach to work and back across the cliffs at night and that believe me is a great way to travel to and from work”.
What does the area offer the group visitor?
“That is a very big question and perhaps better to say what doesn’t the area offer as the list would be much, much shorter. So here goes. Its natural beauty has to be at the top of the list, a stunning coastline and beautiful countryside with those famous wide Norfolk skies. A rich variety of places to visit from stately homes including Royal Sandringham, the magnificent Palladium Mansion that is Holkham Hall, the Stunning National Trust property Blickling Hall and the wonderful moated Mannington Hall home of Lord and Lady Walpole. All have their own very special character and offer the coach operator a rich variety of days out for special interest groups or a great day trip combining it with visit to one of the many interesting and charming seaside towns.
Steam railway fans will not be disappointed either The North Norfolk Steam railway at Sheringham is one of the top steam railways in the UK but coach operators should not forget there are others to visit in Norfolk The Whitwell & Reepham Railway although small is certainly worth taking in as part of a railway tour in the county add in the Mid Norfolk Railway at Dereham and the narrow gauge Bure Valley Railway, the Wells and Walsingham Light Railway not forgetting the Wells Harbour Light railway and the Ashmanhaught Light Railway at Wroxham and you can see there is more than enough to delight the railway enthusiast and for the coach operator enough to consider a 3 day tour.
Of course these two groups of attractions are only a very small part of the tourism offer in Norfolk I haven’t mention arts and crafts, gardens, animal parks or carnivals.
I guess that almost every coach operator will have heard of Cromer Pier and the Pavilion Theatre but what some still might not know is that the Cromer Pier Show is now the only full summer season ‘End-of-the-Pier variety show in the world. Now in its 41st year this record-breaking show is a must for groups of all ages and with a choice on matinee and evening performances to choose from a trip to the theatre can be built into a day trip or extended tour to North Norfolk.
Group rates are very competitive and there are added extras that can be booked at the same time as the seats, catering, programmes, interval ice creams and a mention from the stage for the group or party. There are in fact two shows to chooses from know affectionately as show one and show two they alternate each Thursday throughout the season so there is for theatre groups and opportunity to book two trips to this very famous theatre above the sea.
It would be wrong not to mention the Little Theatre in Sheringham and their own wonderful summer repertory season and a very Traditional Christmas Panto.
And talking of Christmas if your customers enjoyed the Cromer Pier Show then why not bring them back for the Cromer Christmas Show? A very famous part of a Norfolk Christmas is the world famous Thursford Spectacular something that should be on any coach operators list.
Many of North Norfolk’s towns are decorated for Christmas with each one having their own special way of celebrating the festive season and it would be difficult to choose my favourite so better to say come and see them all and make up your own minds.
Cromer Carnival is one of the biggest carnivals in East Anglia with the main carnival day a procession always the 3rd Wednesday in August. My tip for coach operators bringing trippers to this is get here early and make it a full day there is plenty going on with the highlight of the arena events being the Red Arrows whose display over the North Sea is magnificent. The Cromer Soapbox Derby now in its fourth year is one of the carnivals newer events but is fast becoming one of the major pre carnival week events. This year it attracted entrants from as far afield as Nottingham, Leicester, Bedfordshire and Lincolnshire as well as a host of local entries.
North Norfolk really is a place for all seasons and there is always something to see and do and while not all the tourist attractions stay open all year there are for the special interest groups plenty of opportunities to enjoy a trip to the area. Bird watching and walking must rank pretty high on the list of things to do in the off season with a host of different bird reserves welcoming over-wintering birds and a rich variety countryside a coastal walks that will satisfy both the serious and casual walker and with a little bit of planning from the coach operator can be made into a day excursion of perhaps an extended tour”.
What does the future hold?
“I believe the future for tourism in Norfolk is bright and the industry is I’m sure confident and keen to invest in the future. Of course many of our attractions are weather dependant but that is not to say that they can’t succeed and many already see the need to expand and take changing weather patterns into account.
With hard work and perhaps some joined up thinking where by tourism businesses work together to encourage the coach and group market there is a very bright future for the coach and group market in Norfolk. For my part I am looking forward to increasing our customer base and working on new projects as yet unimagined but there just around the corner to be started”.
What is your favourite place to visit in Norfolk?
“Oh that’s a hard one to answer there are so many to choose from. I like gardens, walking and wildlife so on my list would have to be Pensthorpe Natural Park near Fakenham famous for its birds and lakes its gardens are equally stunning and certainly worth a visit. Priory Maze at Beeston Regis is a little haven set between Sheringham and Cromer. Equally a day trip on the Norfolk Broads can be great fun and for me a small day boat a picnic and my camera are a must at some point in the year
There a lots and lots of walks that I love in and around where I live in Overstrand and many of those have a pub somewhere along the route and although not perhaps big enough for a coach party there are in Norfolk plenty of hostelries that with advanced notice will welcome groups and I can certainly say if you are a beer drinker then there is a wonderful range of local ales waiting to be discovered.
Eating out in Norfolk is always a pleasure and again we are spoilt for choice and its very difficult to mention one restaurant above another so perhaps I will keep this bit just to Cromer and mention Bolton’s Bistro at the Cliftonville Hotel as being one of my favourites, a great menu choice which changes with the seasons and always a warm welcome. But please don’t think that is all Cromer has to offer there are Indian, Thai, a Steakhouse and much more and on a warm summer’s evening then Tides on Cromer Pier can offer you great food and a wonderful place to watch the sunset. In terms of Coffee Shops in Cromer there are several most of who will welcome parties from coaches although I doubt there is one large enough to accommodate a full coach apart perhaps from Tides on the pier. But in the town centre you will find The Old Rockshop Bistro, Breakers, The Crab Pot, Café Main and Coffee Therapy all of whom offer a wide range of meals and snacks and also cater for Vegetarians and have a range of Gluten Free dishes. The Cliftonville Hotel, just 5 minutes walk from the town centre is perfect for morning coffee or afternoon tea or for a pre matinee lunch of pre show supper. Like all restaurants they do like advanced bookings, which helps them to help your customers by making sure all is ready for when you arrive.
I suppose in all of this I must mention the City of Norwich, a beautiful city with plenty to offer the coach operator. It is, I feel, a subject too big to write in detail about here apart from mentioning the Theatre Royal, Cathedral, the Castle Museum, the fascinating lanes and walks around Tombland and of course the shopping.
So what’s Norfolk got to tempt the coach operator? Everything you can think of. So in closing all I can say is if you haven’t discovered this wonderful County yet you are really missing a trick”.