Exmoor Tourism Conference 2014
9:45am – 4:15pm, 6 November 2014
The Beach Hotel, Minehead, TA24 5AP, www.thebeachhotel.org
Conference Summary (kindly provided by West Somerset Council):
The future of Exmoor Tourism: Penny Webber, Executive Committee, Exmoor Tourist Association
(Download handout here)
The Exmoor Tourism Association (ETA) is the largest industry body in the area and has existed for over 30 years. The Exmoor Tourism Partnership (ETP) has existed for the past 5 years and has brought together all key public and private sector organisations with an interest in strategically developing tourism across the area. This includes the ETA, West Somerset Council, Exmoor National Park Authority plus Somerset County Council, Somerset Tourism Association Quantock Hills AONB and North Devon+.
Together they have engaged in numerous projects and schemes for the development of the tourism industry including developing the Visit Exmoor website in partnership and production of the Exmoor Sustainable Tourism Strategy and Action Plans 2013-2018. Going forward the ETP and ETA are combing resources and functionality and will be re-branded as ‘Exmoor Tourism’. They will maintain the Visit Exmoor website and continue with the strategic objectives of the previous two bodies as one singular entity to lead tourism across the Greater Exmoor area.
Great Exmoor Experiences: Paul Bloomfield, award winning travel writer and Richard Hammond, founder of Greentraveller
Experiences resonate with people in a greater way than generic pictures do. More and more visitors are seeking out experiences as the driver for a short break, as opposed to choosing a specific destination. Using feelings and memories creates a compelling and effective advertising tool. West Somerset Council, Exmoor National Park Authority and Sedgemoor District Council in collaboration with Greentraveller have produced a supplement capturing some of the best Somerset & Exmoor experiences. The supplement called ‘Great Escapes’ will see some 30,000 placed in Countryfile magazine to target key markets and encourage new visitors to the area (due to be released in the Countryfile magazine in the January edition).
Information for the supplement has been gathered with the use of Google communities; which is a business community group for those with a Gmail account enabling networking to happen online. Pictures, quotes and experiences can be shared and developed in the community group, allowing for a network of people and business to be gathered and used for future reference (similar to a professional Twitter feed). Paul Bloomfield also discussed the key attributes that editors look for in selecting stories to promote. This included:
· New events and places that offer a new dimension to the area
· Anything topical or culturally significant (Anniversaries, etc)
· Secrets are also valued, so anything that is under the radar, unknown or undervalued can gain press.
COOL Tourism Project: From Somerset to the Somme: Robert Downes, West Somerset Council and Alexander Lefevre, Somme Tourism
(Download presentations below)
The COOL Tourism Project aims to make use of rural assets to attract visitors. It is a partnership between 11 local authorities and destination management organisations, with partners in Kent, Essex, Norfolk, Somerset, Pas de Calais and the Somme. The project is part funded by partners and matched with funding from EU Interreg. The conference was attended by representation from Norfolk, The Somme and all four Somerset partners.
The project is very much about pooling resources, sharing best practice and working together (cross-border) to tackle major rural issues. Many of the rural issues facing partners are similar in nature. The conference heard from Alex from the Somme on some of the initiatives they are working on to improve the visitor offer across the Channel. This includes barges running up the river Somme, information boards along the river detailing the history of the area, cycle routes and a new app.
The conference was also attended by a Rural Farm network from the Somme - “Bienvenue a la ferme”. The network is set up in France to assist rural farmers with diversification tools (coaching, networking etc), and had been visiting Sedgemoor and Exmoor prior to the conference to learn from and share best practice with businesses here.
COOL Business Development and Marketing Toolkit: James Turner, Hidden Britain
(The final toolkit will be available online soon!)
Hidden Britain is a charity that cares deeply about the preservation, protection and promotion of our rural environments. Instigated by the 11 partners in the COOL Tourism Project, a toolkit has been developed by Hidden Britain to assist tourism business in solving problems and developing and marketing their offer to visitors. This toolkit draws from other toolkits, tips, hints and advice that to date has largely existed in isolation. It brings together guidance around setting up in business, working together, marketing and communicating, making the most of local distinctiveness and saving money. The toolkit will be an online and interactive pdf, which will be available in early 2015.
Future of Digital Tourism: Kate Doodson, Executive Director, Cosmic IT Consultancy
(Download presentation below)
Cosmic is an IT service provider based in North Devon that offers its services around the South West and is working on Somerset’s Superfast Broadband Project led by Somerset County Council. Technology and digital based devices are advancing at an exponential rate, with more people owning mobile phones than toothbrushes for instance! The world is becoming increasingly reliant on technology by the day and therefore it is prudent to keep up with the needs of digital savvy customers.
Google now is one of the largest advancements in personalised scheduling (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pPqliPzHYyc). The app is able to link into other apps on smartphones and create unique insights and observation (e.g. using maps and GPS to determine where you are going, studying the internet for any traffic delays and offering new directions accordingly. By using the advances in technology to offer new and exciting prospects for people and customers, possibilities advance dramatically. These offers can include:
· Using Social media to its fullest, by using Facebook and Twitter to both advertise, network and connect with the customer.
Preview of the new Visit Exmoor website: Peter Mylchreest and Darren Hunt, Evosite and Bryan Cath of the Exmoor Tourism Association
(Download rate card for the new site)
Evosite are a web developer based in Taunton who have built some 600 websites for 300 clients of the last decade. The new Visit Exmoor website will be launched in December and will provide the area with a new and state of the art website to promote the area. The website includes new map based search functionality, and inspirational tile based design and will make use of live feeds of user generated content from Visit Exmoor’s twitter, facebook, flickr and you tube accounts. The back end Content Management System will allow businesses the opportunity to manage their own listings, writing descriptions, offers and uploading images.
Bryan Cath from the Exmoor Tourism Association (ETA), which operate the site demonstrated the new membership packages available to accommodation providers. Both Silver and Gold packages include membership of the ETA. While the Silver Package offers the opportunity to have one image, description and links to a business website, the Gold package includes up to 10 images, up to three listings and entry into special offer sections. The website has been part funded via the COOL Tourism Project by EU Interreg, West Somerset Council and Exmoor National Park Authority.
Cider and Literary Somerset: James Crowden, Poet and Author
James Crowden is a local author and poet. For the last 20 years has worked in North Dorset and South Somerset as a shepherd, sheep shearer, cider maker and forester. The choice of manual work was deliberate and gave him a deeper understanding of the landscape and its distinctiveness. The Exmoor populace throughout time has experienced the same troubles and hardships faced today. It is this culture and history that defines us and can be used to encourage people to visit the area. The areas culture, literary connections and local produce can be used in an effective way to draw in people through the use of memories, experiences and the importance of locality (e.g. The Railways beer and cider festival, using local produce to give people an experience of what Exmoor has).
- Marketing Exmoor Experiences - Jim Hardcaste (VIper Marketing) & Tim Wilkinson (University of Exeter) - Presentation below
- Hinkley Tourism Action Partnership - Corinne Mathews and Cllr Karen Mills (West Somerset Council) - Handout below
- Rural Tourism Toolkit - James Turner (Hidden Britain) - presentation below
- Customer Services - Anne Price - Presentation below
With support from the COOL tourism project. The COOL Tourism Project is an EU funded partnership programme that aims to promote and grow rural tourism. West Somerset Council and Exmoor National Park Authority are working with Somerset County Council, Sedgemoor District Council, Essex, Norfolk and Kent County Council’s, Visit Kent, Pas de Calais Tourisme, Somme Tourisme and Gites de France.
Please find presentations, where available, below.
Inspiration ~ Workshops ~ News updates ~ Networking