Thursday, 29 March 2012

Visitor numbers continue upwards

January inbound figures from VisitBritain show an 11% increase in both volume (2.27 million visits) and value (a spend of £1.125bn) over January 2011. Holidays and VFR trips were up compared with a year ago, and business travel was down. North America remains a weak market at the moment for inbound visits - let's hope the GREAT campaign works its magic across the Atlantic
More here at Visit Britain

Help for leisure sector companies in the West Midlands

Nick Booker of Attract Marketing has been appointed Innovation Consultant (Leisure) by the University of Wolverhampton’s Department of Leisure as part of the  Innovation 1st Project that aims to help leisure sector SMEs in the West Midlands Region explore and adopt new technologies that will have a positive impact on their business.

The scheme provides two days of fully funded business assistance for SMEs in the leisure and attractions sector, focused around the introduction of 'higher' technology including the use of social media and online reputation management.

SMEs signing up for the scheme will also benefit from a range of other services and opportunities from the University

The Innovation 1st Project is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund under Priority 1 - Promoting Innovation and Research & Development.

The West Midlands contains the large conurbation that includes Birmingham and Wolverhampton, but also covers the predominantly rural shire counties of Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire.

Nick Booker continues as a director of Attract Marketing.

Details on Innovation 1st here -

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

New Museum in London

Plans for a new home for The British Postal Museum & Archive (BPMA) have been announced by the BPMA, Royal Mail Group and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

The new Postal Museum will provide access to the BPMA’s unique collections of 400 years of postal, social and design history, including photographs, posters, vehicles, pillar boxes, employment records of millions of people and a world-class stamp collection.

Under a plan endorsed by the Government, the new centre will be established at Calthorpe House, on London’s Mount Pleasant site, where the country’s oldest mail centre is located. It is close to the existing home of the BPMA at Freeling House, which has very limited space for exhibitions and displays.

Royal Mail Group will grant a lease of 999 years for Calthorpe House, a property which will provide a secure foundation for the BPMA once redeveloped and extended. Agreements have been signed with Royal Mail and Post Office Ltd for a £6m long term, low interest loan to fund the conversion of Calthorpe House to meet the basic needs of the organisation. In addition, Royal Mail and POL are providing other support, including a £500,000 grant.

A fundraising campaign by the BPMA will be launched shortly to raise the remaining funds required to create a state of the art museum and visitor facility. The BPMA is an independent charity set up in 2004 to care for two significant collections: The Royal Mail Archive and the collections of the former National Postal Museum. It is the BPMA’s mission to increase public access to these collections, making the story they tell of communication, industry and innovation accessible to everyone.

The new centre will allow the BPMA to exhibit objects from its fascinating museum collection, which is currently held in storage. It will also include educational facilities for visiting schools.

Donald Brydon, Royal Mail Group’s Chairman said:  “These plans will give our postal heritage a world-class home. The history of Royal Mail is a key part of the history of postal services worldwide. I am delighted, therefore, the Group’s Board has agreed to support the BPMA’s ambitious plan to provide a new, permanent home for its unique collection of postal artefacts, stamps and equipment, as well as allowing greater access to the archive”

Dr Adrian Steel, Director of the BPMA, said:  “We are aiming to create a state-of-the-art, sustainable home for a unique part of our national heritage. The new centre will showcase the UK’s pioneering role in developing postal communications, which has shaped the world we live in.”

Norman Lamb, Postal Affairs Minister, said: "This exciting new home for the British Postal Museum and Archive is a great initiative, to which I hope people will lend their support. Celebrating the history of Royal Mail in this way will bring to life a key part of our nation's cultural heritage. The many and varied items in the archives will show how Royal Mail has been at the heart of British life for centuries, and it is great news that the museum will contain an educational facility to allow young people to engage with the history of our postal services in an innovative way."

Friday, 23 March 2012

Marketing independent historic houses

Invitation to View is a great opportunity for private houses and gardens wanting to open to the public. They have been opening houses and gardens to the public since 1998 and every year since has been a record for both houses open and visitors says their web site. In 2012, 58 private properties will open their doors to visitors in Eastern England (10 new) covering six counties with Hertfordshire and Northamptonshire joining the scheme for the first time. However, ItV has now broken out of the East to start the same scheme in the West Country, with 18 houses opening under the same organisation in Cornwall, Devon and Somerset. For more information see the Invitation to View web site

Leisure Opportunities - Budget 2012 'a missed opportunity' for UK hospitality/tourism, says British Hospitality Association

Leisure Opportunities - Budget 2012 'a missed opportunity' for UK hospitality/tourism, says British Hospitality Association

The Tourism Alliance has also published some notes on the 2012 Budget highlighting a number of key issues:
  • The reform of taxation on Gaming Machines
  • An acknowledgement (read “u-turn”) that there needs to be aviation expansion in the South East.
  • VAT being applied to alterations to Listed Buildings and Static Holiday Caravans
The Budget initiatives with Tourism Implications include:
Corporation Tax
  • From April 2013 the Government will introduce a new cash basis for calculating tax for small unincorporated businesses. The Government will consult shortly after Budget on the details of the scheme including on extending eligibility to businesses with turnover up to the VAT registration threshold of £77,000.
  • Corporation Tax to be cut a further 1% in April to 24% (from 26% currently). The plan is to reduce it to 23% in 2013 and 22% by 2014
  • New duty of Gaming Machines with a standard rate of 20% and a lower rate for low-prize machines of 5% of net takings.
  • The Government will move to a tax regime that ensures operators anywhere in the world pay gambling duties on gross profits generated from customers based in the UK.
  • From 1 October 2012, VAT will be extended to reduce anomalies, including alterations to listed buildings (to align with the existing VAT treatment of repairs).
  • The Department for Culture, Media and Sport will extend its ‘listed places of worship’ grant scheme in light of the changes to VAT on alterations to listed buildings.
  • From 1 October 2012, VAT will be extended to close loopholes, including by applying static holiday caravans (to bring in line with mobile caravans).From 1 April 2012 the VAT registration threshold will be increased from £73,000 to £77,000 and the deregistration threshold from £71,000 to £75,000
  • Acknowledgement that the UK needs to increase aviation capacity, especially in the South East
  • APD rates for 2013-14 will rise by the RPI from 1 April 2013
  • Extend electrification of the Transpennine route between Manchester and Sheffield. Further improvements to the lines between Manchester and Preston, and Manchester and Blackpool.
  • Implementation of many of Alan Cook’s recommendations for the roads, including developing a national roads strategy and setting a renewed focus on the level of performance expected from the Highways Agency.26 The Government will also consider whether to go further and will carry out a feasibility study into new ownership and financing models for the national road network, learning lessons from the water industry, to report on progress by Autumn Statement 2012
  • Mobile coverage to 60,000 rural homes and along at least ten key roads by 2015
  • Consideration of whether direct intervention is required to improve mobile coverage for rail passengers.
  • Government will publish the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) by the end of March 2012, with it coming into force for plan-making and decisions from that point onwards
  • The NPPF will refocus planning policy to better support growth, will include a powerful presumption in favour of sustainable development to underpin all local plans and decisions, and will localise choice about the use of previously developed land, ending nationally imposed targets.
  • The Government will shortly consult on proposals to amend the Use Class Order and the associated permitted development rights to make changing the use of buildings easier, for implementation by April 2013.
  • Government will reduce unnecessary cost and delay to developers by: setting up a Major Infrastructure and Environment Unit; streamlining guidance; setting clearer standards for evidence; and changing the culture of statutory bodies.
  • 84 per cent of health and safety regulation will be scrapped or improved, including legislating in 2012 so that ‘strict liability’ provisions in health and safety law will no longer hold employers to be in breach of their duties when they have done everything that is reasonably practicable and foreseeable to protect their employees
  • Sector-based reviews of regulation will be launched from April 2012 to ensure regulation is enforced at the lowest possible cost to business, starting with chemicals manufacturing, volunteer events and small businesses in food manufacturing.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Job Opportunity - Campaign Director

The British Postal Museum & Archive (BPMA) is looking for someone who can establish and implement their capital fundraising campaign for a new museum, archive and visitor centre in a building donated by Royal Mail in Mount Pleasant, London.  The total project cost is £12 -£15 million but with some funding already in place only a proportion of this will need to be fundraised this project

Founded in 2004, the BPMA is an independent registered charity which cares for the archive and museum collections of Royal Mail. It’s Designated Public Record Archive and Museum Collections range from sheets of Penny Blacks, posters and 1930s films, to mobile post offices, pillar boxes and telegrams from the Titanic.

The BPMA is looking for a Campaign Director who can establish and implement the capital fundraising campaign for the project. While some work, such as the establishment of a fundraising board, has already begun, the campaign Director will refine the campaign strategy and implement the major donor fundraising, from individuals, trusts and foundations and corporates.

The BPMA’s Head of Development and Communications, who is responsible for revenue fundraising, is on maternity leave from January 2012 for up to one year.  During this period the Campaign Director will take on certain revenue fundraising and line management responsibilities in addition to the capital fundraising task.

Closing date - Tuesday 10 April 2012 at 9am

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Hotels with good web sites win

Hotels which fail to spend time and money on their websites face a drop in bookings and profitability, says Christina Eccles in the latest edition of Destination News UK.  According to a new study by researchers at the University of Portsmouth, customers expect a host of features on hotel websites, even when looking at small properties.

The researchers specifically studied hotels in Sri Lanka, which aim to attract western business travellers, but say their findings apply broadly across the sector. Dr Alice Good of the University said: “Hotels that rely upon web bookings are undoubtedly going to face a drop in bookings if they fail to keep pace with website design and the importance of it to customers.

“…poor web design impacts upon both usability and accessibility in relation to e-commerce websites, with numerous examples of companies going out of business because of poor website design. A website is the interface – the shop window – between businesses and their customers and a poor user experience will reduce the chance of a customer committing to a business transaction.

“A poorly designed website will also reduce the chances of a customer returning to the website and increase the chance that they will tell others – often through social media – very quickly about a poor experience.”

According to the study, the four key elements of good hotel website design are:
  • Website usability, including using ‘accessible’ typefaces, easy and intuitive navigation and key information (which) can be found within three clicks of the mouse.
  • Providing a good user experience  -  it should be visually pleasing and encourage users to return
  • Trustworthiness -  the website is safe and secure and ‘feels’ safe to customers
  • Ensuring that reservations can be made online and there is an email system to facilitate customer queries
Researcher Arunasalam Sambhanthan added: “Hotels, like any other business, should be prepared to spend a significant proportion of their budget on the security of their website. To far too many companies, security is an afterthought, but the issue of trustworthiness and customers’ perception of a safe site impact heavily upon e-commerce.

“People quickly form impressions of web security and a website that engenders a feeling of trust will inspire customers to be more confident about booking and paying online.”

So sound simple stuff that applies not only to hotels but anyone operating in the tourism and leisure sector, particularly with a web site that takes bookings or sells products and services.
Destination News UK is here

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Getting them to spend more and stay longer

Improving visitor ratings of what there is to see, and especially of what there is to do, can lead to increased dwell time and increased secondary spend says Alan Love, Research Director, BDRC in the latest edition of Attractions Management. He’s posed the question  - ‘How can attraction operators encourage visitors to spend limited budgets at their attraction?’ And then provides some advice. Tweaking the offer can not only increase dwell times and increased secondary spend but can also lead to increased recommendation rates on say Trip Advisor, which may lead to increased volume, making marketing budgets stretch just that little bit further. Love bases his conclusions on some analysis he has done on the 30 metrics in the ALVA Quality Benchmark Survey.

Love’s review shows that even in straitened times, battening down the hatches on investment might not be the right solution.  By improving the visitor experience through enhancing what there is to do or to see at the attraction can lead to improved ratings and increased spend. As we say to our Attract Marketing clients 'you have spent a fortune getting people here for heaven’s sake make sure they stay as long as possible so they use the cafĂ© and spend in the shop!'

See more at Time is Money

Attractions Management - Domestic tourism boost for UK attractions

Attractions Management - Domestic tourism boost for UK attractions
A number of UK attractions recorded increases in visitor numbers during 2011, according to figures from the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA).