The UK wide industry-standard, We’re Good to Go, which has supported businesses throughout the pandemic has been phased out following a successful campaign.
The standard which was introduced in July 2020 when organisations were struggling to adjust to new regulations allowed businesses to demonstrate the Covid-19 protocols they had put in place to keep both staff and visitors safe while the hospitality sector moved to reopening.
“It has been tough, we had to adjust and review our operating procedures and various range of risk assessments,” said Pim Dalm, the Managing Director of Clandeboye Lodge Hotel in Bangor County Down.
With the help of the ‘We’re Good To Go’ accreditation, Clandeboye Lodge Hotel was able to maintain a safe environment for its staff.
“We felt it was very important to make sure that our staff felt confident that as business owners we had taken all reasonable steps to ensure that the environment in which they were either interacting with guests or interacting amongst each other was as safe as could possibly be.”
Looking back on the unpredictability the tourism sector was facing at the time, Dermot Friel, owner of Friel’s Bar and Restaurant explained the importance of safety for organised trips.
“Tour operators wanted to know if their guests and visitors were going to be looked after in a safe environment. That was one of their first questions, were we ‘Good To Go’ accredited?” he recalled.
Fortunately, the success of the initiative allowed many local businesses to safely reopen their premises and welcome visitors and guests after a long period of uncertainty.
For Hillsborough Castle and Gardens, the We’re Good To Go accreditation meant that Northern Ireland’s primary royal residence could start planning for the future.
“Being declared Good To Go was peace of mind that you were safe at work and that you can provide a safe experience for your visitors.
“The We’re Good To Go campaign was an incredibly important part of our discussions with international vendors about our 2022 calendar and for trying to build back up to our pre covid business levels,” said Christine Grant, Palace Host Team Leader of Hillsborough Castle and Gardens.
Examining the consumer confidence, propensity to travel and consumer concerns at the time, Tourism NI’s Consumer Sentiment Analysis gave exceptional insight into the success of the We’re Good To Go initiative.
Only a few months after launching the initiative, by March 2021, almost a quarter of NI consumers (23%) were aware of the ‘We’re Good to Go Mark’. For the vast majority (92%) who were aware of it, this mark gave them confidence that a business was safe to visit. The same research confirmed that when restrictions eased, two-thirds of NI consumers would be more inclined to visit a business that displayed the mark over one that didn’t.
Tourism NI’s CEO John McGrillen said: “The ‘We’re Good to Go’ scheme was vital for businesses as it reassured visitors that they had put the necessary arrangements in place to deal with Covid safely. That consumer confidence was a critical part of driving consumer demand.
“I am exceptionally proud of the industry for their collective effort and investment to ensure guests felt safe when visiting their experiences and attractions. This is testament to the resilience and strength of character of the wonderful people we have working within the sector across Northern Ireland.
“This tenacity and giant spirit throughout the tourism sector contributes to the positive outlook as we move towards economic recovery following the pandemic.”
Throughout the campaign, all businesses operating within the visitor economy including accommodation providers, visitor attractions and more were encouraged to apply for the accreditation. In Northern Ireland, a total of 2,148 businesses took part and displayed the green logo on their premises and online.
By the end of summer 2021, NI holidaymakers felt more confident to book further in advance than ROI visitors. This could partly be attributed to the success of the We’re Good To Go standards of which 50% of consumers were aware.
Since Covid restrictions in Northern Ireland were officially lifted in February 2022 and consumer nervousness around travelling lessened, VisitEngland, VisitScotland, Visit Wales and Tourism Northern Ireland have agreed that the initiative has achieved what it set out to and drew the scheme to a close.
With nationwide restrictions behind us, Tourism NI acknowledges the support of the industry for taking the proactive step in helping visitors feel safe when travelling within, or to Northern Ireland.
The organisation is looking forward to welcoming both domestic and international visitors and guests in the coming season and seeing the tourism and hospitality industry restored to pre-pandemic levels.
Whilst the ‘We’re Good To Go’ scheme has closed we would like to encourage businesses to stay connected with Tourism NI for other supporting activities.
For more information on how Tourism NI can support your business visit: www.tourismni.com
One Week Left To Go To Apply For This Year’s Boardroom Apprentice
There’s only one week left to apply for this year’s Boardroom Apprentice programme online via the official Boardroom Apprentice website.
All applications are to be submitted by 3:00pm on Tuesday, May 24.
Now in its sixth year, the Boardroom Apprentice is a UK first 12-month unique board learning, development and placement programme which enables those who would like to serve on a public or third sector board to learn and gain experience through in-depth training and support.
Founded by Eileen Mullan in 2017, the programme has helped 223 candidates from across Northern Ireland to begin their Boardroom journey thanks to its support from the Department of Finance.
Applications are open to those aged 16 or over from all backgrounds and abilities as the programme aims to enable a wider diversity of individuals to sit on boards and help move their board member role from aspiration to reality.
Eileen Mullan, Boardroom Apprentice founder, said: “I decided to create a programme that brings together three key elements – knowledge and understanding, experience and support.
Over a twelve-month window Boardroom Apprentices will get practical board experience, a suite of learning days and support to fully equip them to serve on a board in the public or third sector after completing the programme,“Being a Boardroom Apprentice is a gift. You get the programme as a gift with the expectation that you give it back. Being a Boardroom Apprentice is about preparing you for public service, which is about you playing your part.”
Throughout the 12 months, candidates are required to take part in regular learning days on topics such as finance, governance along with a board placement on one of this year’s 58 Host Boards, matched by both Eileen and a selection of former apprentices.
2020 Boardroom Apprentice Magdalena Bisewska revealed the experience is for everyone.
“I would encourage anyone to apply. It’s about creating opportunities for everyone. We’ve all got something to contribute.
“I think everyone from any nationality, any background, all walks of life, should apply as it’s given you the confidence, the knowledge and the skills to make a difference.”
This year’s programme will run from 01st September 2022 – until 31st August 2023 in adherence to all relevant Covid-19 guidance.
“If being on a board giving your time and sharing your skills is something you aspire to do, but are not sure how to do then Boardroom Apprentice will enable you to do just that,” said Eileen.
Local Makeup Artist Celebrates New Studio With Empowering Event
County Armagh professional Makeup Artist Aisling O’Connor hosted an afternoon to remember at the Seagoe Hotel in Portadown to celebrate the launch of her new Dream Beauty Studio.
The all-female event, ‘Look Good, Feel Fabulous’, took place on November 14 and showcased empowering motivational speakers, a Fashion show featuring local boutiques, a live makeup demo, a cocktail reception and afternoon tea.
During lockdown, Aisling hosted a “Makeup and Mindset” Zoom makeup tutorial alongside guest speaker Claire O’Hanlon which focused on strengthening the mindset – something Aisling based her own event on.
Launching her own business in 2018, with a website and new branding launched 2020 before the pandemic began.
Aisling spent the majority of lockdown developing her brand and then launched her custom beauty space, Dream Beauty Studio in September 2021.
Aisling said: “The main concept underpinning my business is that of ‘The Lipstick Effect’, the psychological phenomenon where putting on your makeup is proven to increase self confidence, and boost self esteem.
“I just love what I do and love empowering women to feel better about themselves.”
The mum-of-three is a strong advocate of encouraging women to use makeup as a powerful tool to enhance self-confidence which was the inspiration behind her in-person event.
“My main goal was to get a room full of women and have them leave that afternoon feeling uplifted, encouraged and above all, realising that it’s ok, and in fact of extreme importance, to put themselves first every once in a while.” she said.
The sellout event featured an impressive lineup of inspiring speakers including Life Coach Michelle McAuley, personal stylist Samara of Evolve By Samara and fashion blogger Caroline Currie of ‘Principal of Fashion’ who hosted the uplifting masterclass.
Besides giving confidence, on the day £1000 was raised through raffle prizes for Little Forget Me Nots Trust, a local charity dedicated to helping families cope with child loss.
“I advocate strongly supporting local and female owned businesses. I believe in empowering others, which is what sets Dream Beauty apart. It’s more than just makeup, it’s all about leaving you feeling like you on a really good day.”
Currently, Dream Beauty studio offers a variety of beauty and cosmetic treatments including makeup, brows, nails, lashes, sugaring, tanning and massages and the studio is also big enough to offer group workshops and lessons.