This week we attended and sponsored the TMI Virtual Annual Convention where the theme was RETHINK, RESET, REBOUND with destinations sharing their experiences of operating in the COVID-19 era.

There were some really interesting speakers and topics over the two days from responsible tourism and sustainability to VR and AR with updates from DCMS and the Visit England ‘Enjoy the everyday’ campaign. Based on some of discussions that took place and the key takeaways, we’ve put together the following practical suggestions:

1. Be agile

DMOs/BIDs/LAs are working in an ever-changing environment and having to adapt and respond on an almost daily basis – use your digital channels to quickly disseminate information to your local businesses and visitors and be prepared to have to change your messages regularly. Also, encourage local businesses to work flexibly offering free cancellations etc to remove the perceived risks visitors may have.

2. Clear communication

There is a general sense of confusion around the continually evolving government guidelines/restrictions and local lockdowns. Have a clear section on your website of what is and isn’t allowed in your area – add dates of when it was updated to reassure visitors it is still current.

3. Refresh and refocus your content

Showcase that your destination is still welcoming visitors by including imagery on your site that reflects social distancing, face coverings, autumn/winter clothing and weather. Also, consider bringing different types of content to the forefront such as self-catering, virtual events, deliveries and take-aways etc or businesses offering online shopping of local products and crafts. Make sure to check Google Analytics to see if there is a shift in the most popular pages and prioritise updating them to factor in new, relevant information.

4. Put the visitor first

Really think about the needs and concerns of different types of visitors and how you can remove any barriers they may have to visiting your destination and local businesses. For example, include information around local amenities such as parking and public toilets – where they are located, if they are free or do they accept cards/contactless (think especially about disabled visitors and young families where access is critical), promote eateries with outdoor seating and heating – maybe suggest visitors pack a blanket so they can still enjoy al fresco dining as restaurants will be unable to provide them at the current time. It is still possible for visitors to have a great experience and warm welcome even with all the health and safety measures in place.

5. Promote the benefits and provide the means

Try to showcase the positives of visiting attractions and restaurants without the crowds and queues – timed tickets and limited tables inevitably mean businesses are unable to operate at full capacity but it could mean a more relaxed and enjoyable visit. Help local businesses sell any availability they do have by offering online booking on your site or linking to their own booking systems. We offer the following integrations to help:

  • TXGB Ticketing (development launching next week)
  • Beyonk (activity ticketing)
  • Web Ticket Manager (attractions)
  • Open Table (restaurant widget)

The following resources may also be useful:

If you questions or need any help with any of the above, please don't hesitate to contact your Account Manager or give us a call on +44 (0)330 440 1825.

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