The Welsh in Business pilot project has made a big difference to a number of small businesses around Denbighshire. By bringing an awareness of how bilingualism can benefit a business’ bottom line the Welsh in Business project has produced a change which we hope will last. Here is just some of the positive feedback we received:
In September 2016 the Economic & Business Development Team commissioned IAITH: the Welsh centre for language planning to deliver a ‘Welsh in Business’ pilot project that aimed to test the business benefits of bilingualism by promoting the use of Welsh as a business tool to improve economic performance. The pilot project worked with businesses in Prestatyn, Llangollen and St Asaph for a limited period of time in order to understand the need and appetite for Welsh language assistance within businesses. It will be following up with those businesses later in 2017 to test what difference the actions taken by them have made to their bottom line.
Early finding s from the pilot project suggest that the Welsh language gives businesses an overall competitive advantage through being able to communicate bilingually with customers. More specific benefits revealed by the pilot include:
- The use of Welsh provides a business with a unique quality of authenticity. If you see a product or service which relies upon location for its value, using Welsh will reinforce the feeling of authenticity.
- It is courteous and often essential to provide Welsh language translation in a business for those whose customers’ first language is Welsh.
- Speaking Welsh and providing Welsh signage can open up new markets.
- Use of the Welsh language shows an advocacy for local produce and can create associations with wider attempts to market Welsh / local produce. E.g. LoveLiveLocal, Welsh Lamb etc.
As part of the Welsh in Business project IAITH undertook a number of actions in order to firstly understand the amount of Welsh spoken in our towns and then recruit businesses eager to learn how bilingualism can benefit their bottom line.
Face to Face initial meetings within each town gave the project a baseline from which to work and gave a feeling for how Welsh is already being used in our county. This work began to give useful insights from the start, indicating that many businesses already understood the connection between Welsh language and an authentic tourist experience, but many did not have the language skills or confidence to use them in order to make a difference in their business.
The project then recruited businesses from each town to take part in a number of Welsh language and business workshops focusing in the spoken language, bilingual signage in store and use of the Welsh language online and on social media. These sessions brought a number of new ideas to many businesses and left them with tools to continue to use in their day to day business.
These workshops concluded with a final workshop open to everyone as part of March for Business.
Since these workshops concluded a number of the lessons learned by businesses have been implemented. The most impressive is from Oriel house which is a hotel located on the Upper Denbigh road near to St Asaph. The staff in this hotel now wear the cymraeg lanyard to show that guests can converse in Welsh, and Oriel house now also offers a Welsh wedding package as a new service.