Are you prepared for the year of opportunity that 2016 promises to be for UK visitor attractions?

Despite market uncertainty surrounding interest rates and our relationship with the European Union, there are several trends pointing towards the prospect of record customer numbers this year:

  • Growth of disposable income: in their latest expenditure report, Visa highlighted that the “recreation and culture” categories registered the sharpest rise in spending volumes since the series began six years ago, rising 5.8% (Visa expenditure index 2015)
  • “Staycation” trend: Britons are more willing to take a short trip on these shores instead of venturing abroad as recessionary mindsets prevail despite the improving economy. Foreign trips by Britons are down by 16% while holidays in England have increased by 12% in the past five years (Visit Britain)
  • Day Trippers: Over 1.3bn day trips were taken to English destinations in 2014, generating spending of £45bn (Visit England) clearly indicating that the demand for interesting “day out” experiences Is growing

However, marketing budgets are still under pressure to deliver return on investment, or else risk being cut.

So in order to take advantage of the promising market conditions for 2016, we have outlined three areas for UK visitor attractions to focus on in order to maximize their marketing spend in 2016, in addition to their traditional marketing programme…

  1. Location, location, location
  • Make your venue part of a bigger story: by creating an easy “day out” opportunity for customers to visit the area rather than just one stop at your venue you will attract a greater audience. People are generally lazy about planning and looking for ideas on how to spend a day, so you should do the hard work for them
  • Partner with other local businesses: Linking up with complimenting businesses in your area (such as transport providers) will help to support the idea of a larger itinerary
  • Work with national and local tourism organisations: ensure that your venue is part of the story that any body in your support network is telling, and work with them to create a consistent message about why customers should visit your attraction
  • “Piggy backing” local events: when media and customer interest around your local area is high then use this raised level of awareness to promote your message. Aligning your content with relevant sporting occasions or cultural events can be a great way to use momentum from outside your attraction
  1. Influence the influencers
  • Invite the media down to enjoy your venue – plan a series of press familiarisation trips where you treat journalists to a day out visiting your venue. Make their experience special by including a free meal or a small gift. If you’re a family venue, invite them to bring their whole family along
  • Engage the power of the internet and extend these press trips to include influential bloggers in your area – peer to peer recommendations are always more powerful than paid for advertising
  • Think about celebrities or well-known locals who may be interested in visiting your venue – invite them down for a free day out on you in exchange for some photos and networking on social media
  1. Cash is not always king
  • Make your marketing budgets go further than the actual £ amount that your finance department has allocated you, by exploiting “value in kind” opportunities
  • You can use free tickets, meals or merchandise at your venue to run competitions on social media and web channels. Not only does this allow you to entice potential visitors to investigate your venue, but it also means that you can capture their valuable data to communicate with them later on
  • Partnerships with local media outlets can often be negotiated using “freebies” in exchange for advertising and competition space. Many newspapers and magazines also have website and social media pages, so make sure your partnership deal extends into these online channels as well as the print version

To discuss how your visitor attraction or venue can make the most of what is set to be a very strong year for this sector please contact Ian on 0207 653 1958 or ian.sykes@438marketing.com