This article came to pass because one of our MBA students, who is from Port Pirie, bemoaned the fact that their town was named the most “shit town” of Australia by the Shit Towns of Australia newsletter.
It intrigued me that they were so upset by a fictitious entity’s made up label but as I sat on the throne this week (as they say), I had an idea: let’s take an MBA-thinking approach to the matter.
The beauty of doing a Master of Business Administration degree is that you get to solve problems by applying numerous principles from many disciplines.
So, I asked my students to pretend they were Port Pirie Mayor Leon Stephens for a day, and come up with ways to make this rank title smell sweet. And they did.
1. Visit Port Pirie and pull up a stool
Our first idea is based on an insight from the book, The Feedback Fix: Dump the Past, Embrace the Future, and Lead the Way to Change By Joe Hirsch.
His research into feedback revealed that while “novices seek positive feedback because it makes them feel good, experts seek negative feedback because it helps them work better”.
To that end, our students argue that many Port Pirie residents who have heard these claims before should take the higher ground as “experts” in all things Pirie, and welcome strangers to “pull up a stool” the next time they are “passing through”, so they can share stories about their town.
Pubs and cafes would do well to swap chairs for stools and then erect signage to draw visitors in, with slogans like: come inside and enjoy a comfortable stool.
2. Apply Bristol Stool Chart rankings to all tourism features
As the Continence Foundation of Australia reminds us, the Bristol Stool Chart or Bristol Stool Scale is a medical aid designed to classify stools (known as ‘faeces’ or ‘poo’) into seven groups, from hard and lumpy to soft and runny.
By adopting the notion of “if you can’t beat them, join them”, tourism promoters could use an adapted Bristol Stool Chart to help visitors interpret experiences.
For example, Visitor Information Centre people could tell visitors that the Port Pirie to Napperby Cycle Track would be rated a Type 2 walking trail (the equivalent of a stool being sausage shaped but lumpy), while the Port Pirie Heritage Walk would be rated a Type 6 (fluffy pieces, a mushy stool).
In this way, people could laugh about the shit town label, while getting clearer and more memorable instructions from their guides.
3. Create the Long Drop Museum of Australia
Given the persistent nature of this “shit town” label, and given Port Pirie’s proximity to the Flinders Ranges and outback, therein lies an opportunity to exploit and explore the history of toilets in Australia, both the history of the outside dunny and the history of having public toilets in towns to relieve travellers.
As one of our demography students noted, grey nomads would be undeterred (or, cheekily, under-turd) by the shit town label, will still keep visiting Port Pirie, but would also be fascinated by a Long Drop museum, given how much they rank public toilets as important.
In The Grey Nomad newsletter, Royce White highlighted how important loos are to older travellers, saying, “we need more public toilets … so tourists in vehicles with no toilets can relieve themselves without spoiling the environment.”
Our students argue that with 19,000 public toilets around Australia, Port Pirie could “own” that private space by asking councils to put advertisements in every convenience luring (loo-er-ing) them to visit Port Pirie and pay homage to the thunder box.
And there is precedent. Toilet museums overseas rank highly on Trip Advisor and similar review sites. Some of these include:
- Gladstone Toilet Musuem, UK
- Sulahb International Museum of Toilets, India
- Mr Toilet House, South Korea
- Barney Smith’s Toilet Seat Art Museum, USA
- TOTO Museum, Evolution Of Toilets, Japan
As you can see, an international network of attractions could put Port Pirie on the map and the town could do its part to help South Australian Tourism Commission continue being flushed with success.
Finally, our students have argued that instead of the Driver Revive signs near the town, the council and State Government’s Road Safety boffins should put up signs saying:
Too pooped to pass Pirie? Pull in and make a deposit at our porcelain bank
While that might be a little abstract, we believe our MBA-thinking instincts are on track and that these ideas represent an opportunity for Port Pirie that is too good to pass.