Premium rate Brighton tourist line could be scrapped

Posted On 30 Nov 2009 at 8:14 pm

A premium rate Brighton and Hove tourist information phoneline is set to be scrapped.

VisitBrighton revealed today half its complaints are about the 50p a minute service, to which calls have plummeted from 100,000 in 2000 to just 12,000 this year.

Now, in a bid to help the city’s economy, the city council’s tourism arm wants to merge with the Royal Pavilion booking team to set up a small call centre taking free calls.

A final decision is expected at the next regular meeting hosted by cabinet member for culture David Smith, on December 8. If approved, the new system would start in April.

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Cllr Smith said: “I’m giving it careful consideration. People generally don’t like premium rate lines – I never call them myself.

“Also many people cannot or will not use email or internet. So we need a way to deal with phone calls which does not put people off.

“When people get through on the phone we have a good chance of converting that enquiry into a booking benefitting local businesses.”

When first launched the premium rate service attracted almost 100,000 calls a year. Today this has dropped to around 12,000. Revenue fell from around £40,000 to £10,000.

However nearly 300,000 people go to the Visitor Information Centre near the Pavilion annually. Staff also handle 1,200 postal enquiries and 10,500 by email. The VisitBrighton website gets a million hits a year.

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