Money-off deals to lure members

CHEAP phone calls and healthcare deals are part of a drive to woo more chamber of commerce members.

Kent Gateway Chamber, a group of four that includes Ashford, Maidstone, Shepway and West Kent, has unveiled three new deals for its 1500-strong membership.

They include discounts on private health cover with Bupa, telephone calls through Kent Gateway Telecom, and a new chamber-to-member and member-to-member website

Launching the package at Ashford Business Point, chamber chief executive Chris Capron said it offered members “a positive net cost benefit.”

It was vital to look after the health of staff, an employer’s “most important asset.” The telephone deal should save users up to 55 per cent over the standard BT tariff, and the website would allow the chamber to assess member views more quickly.

He claimed the package, with other deals offered by the chamber, would save members more than £2,000 a year. “The value of these services outweighs the cost of membership,” he said.

Kent Gateway Chamber aims to meet the target set by the British Chambers of Commerce of 10 per cent of local firms.

At present, the Gateway has nine per cent, although Ashford chamber boasts a healthy 16 per cent.

“We want to raise the total penetration for the Gateway,” Mr Capron said. He said the bad old days for Kent chambers were over.

“The chamber today is different to the chamber a year ago, two years ago, five years ago.

“We’re improving all the time, so look at us again because we are the only true networking organisation representing small and medium sized enterprises.

“I know there are others around but they do not offer the complete service that chambers of commerce do.”

Meanwhile, a verdict is expected soon on the chamber’s bid for Investors in People status for the way it treats staff and customers.

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