The Longest Village Name in Wales

Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwll-llantysiliogogogoch: A settlement has existed on the site of this village since Neolithic times, the inhabitants subsisted through agriculture and fishing during much of its early history. Anglesey, where the village is located, was an island only reachable by taking a boat across the Menai Straight. For a brief period, the island was captured by the Romans under the leadership of Gaius Suetonius Paulinus. It was then temporarily abandoned when the Romans needed to consolidate their forces against Boudicca. It was then regained and held under Roman rule until the end of Roman Britain.

As the Roman forces receded, the forces of the Kingdom of Gwynedd, (an early medieval kingdom) swept in. The Kingdom of Gwynedd worked under the feudal system which meant the residents worked small farms for the king. The village was very rural and had a population of only around eighty residents. With the introduction of estates in the early 16th century, much of the land was absorbed into the Earldom of Uxbridge which was under the rule of the Marquess of Anglesey. At that time, the population of the village was forced to work in the capacity of tenants on what was known as enclosures. By 1801, the population had exploded and then numbered 358 individuals.

With the construction of the Menai Suspension Bridge built by Thomas Telford in 1826, the island was connected with the rest of Wales. Later, it connected with London in 1850 by the building of the Britannia Bridge. As the village grew, it split into the Upper Village and the Lower Village. The Upper Village was composed mainly of the older homes and farms whereas the Lower Village grew up around the railway station and consisted of shops, workshops and other commerce.

The village became a hub as the railways and network of roads brought in traders and other customers from North Wales. It was about this time that the village changed from the name Llanfairpwll to a longer version including the words St Tysilio which refers to the church of St Tysilio’s in Menai Bridge. This was once a chapel of ease that belonged to St Mary’s church. The very first meeting of the Women’s Institute took place in this village known as Llanfairpwll in 1915 and from there, spread throughout the rest of the British Isles.

The full name of this town is Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwll-llantysiliogogogoch, which basically translates to St Mary’s Church in the hollow of the white hazel near a rapid whirlpool and the Church of St Tysilio of the red cave. This name has made the otherwise quaint village famous. The visitor’s center for the village receives a multitude of calls per day just in order to hear the name of the city pronounced. The employees of the visitor’s center very patiently repeat the name day in and day out for curious callers.

Which is Your Retirement Village Business Model – Hospital Or Hospitality?

It is widely accepted that Australian mature age consumers are not one homogenous group, and that segmentation by “age” as an indicator of consumer behaviour is at best ineffective, and generally misleading.

Before attempting to identify the niches and micro-niches within the retirement community marketplace, there is one major segmentation that must be clearly differentiated – the “needs” Vs the “wants” driven prospective residents.

Does your Retirement Community seek to attract mature age consumers who “need” to move into supportive retirement accommodation, or are you seeking to attract those who “want” to move from their current housing arrangements into the alternative you offer?

Based on this answer, your business model should take its lead from either best-practice Hospital or Hospitality operators.

If you aim to successfully attract residents who “want” to accept a change in their retirement accommodation, evaluate the way your facilities, your staff and your marketing, look and feel in comparison with a boutique hotel.

Do your employees seem more suited to healthcare or hospitality?

If you were in charge of that boutique hotel, how many of your current staff would you employ? Are they hospitable enough?

As a hotel guest, would you happily accept the restrictions and regulations you see as necessary for your Retirement Community?

A major segmentation question is –Can you care too much?

In the aged care industry, it is appropriate that the extent and style of care dominates their marketing efforts, and the competitive advantage they articulate.

However, the market positioning in the Retirement Community industry also strongly emphasises their level of resident care, both “caring for” and “caring about” their residents.

If your business model targets the “wants” driven prospect, the community environment you are striving to create would encourage residents’ independence and self-sufficiency.

Will staff members who were chosen for their ability, and desire, to take care of residents, stifle that feeling of independence and thriving?

A quick comparison with US operators.

One major aspect that pervades the marketing by US operators in all product and service categories is their propensity to target a specific niche.

US Retirement Communities commonly target a single ethnic, religious or sporting group, or the gay and lesbian market, or ranch-based communities for old cowboys, often erroneously dismissed by Australian marketers as being solely a result of the US population, and therefore not viable locally.

Certainly there is no confusion deciding whether a US community is targeting needs or wants driven prospective residents.

By comparison, Australian operators seem reluctant to clearly nominate their target as either the needs or wants, and to carry through that decision in all aspects of their business model – most importantly, the selection of residents within their sales process.

Most incongruous are Australian communities, where a very expensive facility has been specified and constructed to perfectly reflect the desires of the wants prospect, but then through fear of losing sales opportunities, the operator accepts a percentage of needs residents and must therefore staff and operate the facility in line with the requirements of the highest need, thus changing the environment necessary to attract the wants prospect.

The Internet Influence

If the market position of your Retirement Community is to appeal to anyone and everyone over 55, it is near impossible to choose the words in traditional media to convey that message, and more so the keywords to successfully attract the attention of internet search engines.
How to identify your niche.

To identify the niche, or micro-niche, which contains the highest proportion of targeted mature age consumers, we have created the Mature Marketing Matrix, which recognises 6 Categories of Influence on their consumer behaviour, and 6 Segments within each Category.

The 6 Categories of Influence are

Family Commitments
Financial Position
Health and Mobility
Work Status

As an example of Segments, the Family Commitments Category has Segments such as “Single – no dependents” up to “Couple – with carer responsibility.”

The Work Status Category has Segments ranging from “Fully Retired – no paid or unpaid work” up to “Self Employed – exceeding financial needs.”

The Take-Away.

Australian Retirement Community operators seem to agree on the different requirements to successfully attract and service the needs driven resident, as opposed to the wants driven.

Within industry circles, discussions on the percentage of needs versus wants driven prospects are frequent, and usually contain common understanding on the varying market demands, particularly relating to facilities and staffing.

However, when it comes to executing a business plan which unequivocally nominates, internally and externally, whether they seek to operate within the needs or wants driven marketplace, too often it appears a “foot in both camps” is the default middle ground.

Market evidence suggests the safety of that middle ground brings with it a guarantee of mediocrity and not the “best of both worlds”.

Manhattan Village Home Sales – Trends

Manhattan Village is the only gated community in Manhattan Beach and, as such, offers unique opportunities for its residents. This area includes the Marriott Hotel and the Manhattan Beach Country Club. Over the last several years there have been four times the number of townhome sales than single family sales here. In fact, in a busy year there may only be eight single family home sales. The sales trends of the townhomes have matched a pattern that we have seen for the South Bay in general. The trends for the single family homes have also followed this pattern to some degree, but with a less consistent sales volume.

Back in 2001, a townhome here sold for $538 K on average while a single family home sold for $958 K. The price for the townhomes rose every year through 2005, hitting an initial peak of $1.072 M. Prices dropped in 2006 and 2007, but reached a new peak in 2008 of $1.2 M. This quite possibly may be the only niche of the South Bay market that had a significant increase in 2008. I should note that it was on a very low relative sales volume for the area. This year-to-date, the average sales price has dropped to $877 K. For single family homes, the average sales price rose consistently from 2001 through 2007. The peak value hit $2 M in 2007, but dropped sharply to $1.5 M in 2008. This can be attributed to a very low number of sales in 2008 and thus should not be used for decision making.

The peak number of sales of townhomes was in 2002 (no surprise there as this has been the case for virtually all of the South Bay). There were 37 sales that year, but the number has dropped every year since and stands at only seven this year-to-date. There have only been a total of 46 single family home sales since the beginning of 2001. The current inventory of single family homes is two while for townhomes it is four and yet this still represents months worth of inventory in both cases given recent sales trends.

The average days on markets have oscillated for both types of homes in this area over the years. From 2002 through 2005, both had homes on the market for less than three weeks before selling. The number has gone up and down since. This year-to-date, days on market was 85 days for single family homes and 100 days for townhomes.