Quarterly Members Meeting March 2014

17 April 2014

On Monday 24th March Marketing Lancashire chose the new Samlesbury Hotel for the first quarterly Members Meeting of 2014, which was held in the hotel’s exclusive and very stylish Canberra Suite. 

On arrival, Members networked with colleagues and the Marketing Lancashire team in one of the hotel’s comfortable reception areas which encircle the main bar and cafe area.

The meeting entitled ‘Raising the Profile’ started at 2pm with an update and introduction from Chief Executive, Ruth Connor.  Ruth reflected on the success of the Lancashire Tourism Awards, held at Blackburn Cathedral on November 7, 2013.  Over 440 colleagues packed Lancashire’s cathedral, sensitively transformed for the occasion, to show support for the finalists and to celebrate the sector’s £3.4billion contribution to the Lancashire economy.  As well as raising the profile of Lancashire’s tourism businesses this event also marked the beginning of a new era for the Cathedral – as a stunning venue for major corporate events.  “It will certainly be a hard act to follow, but the search is now on for the venue for this year’s Lancashire Tourism Awards” said Ruth, and Members will be the first to hear when that process will begin.

Ruth continued by introducing the new Marketing Lancashire team structure including new recruits Nick King, Head of Business Development, Emma Walton, Head of Multi-Channel Marketing and PR and Communications Executive, Laura Crabb.  The new team has been developed to fully exploit new digital marketing opportunities and to embrace the changing communications and social media landscape.

This year Marketing Lancashire will also develop a new Visitor Economy Strategy, Destination Management Plan and Cultural Tourism Narrative in consultation with stakeholders, district partners and working alongside the Lancashire LEP (Lancashire Enterprise Partnership), Visit England, Arts Council England and Creative England.  The team is already working on Pan-Lancashire collaborative projects Cycle Lancashire, WWI Centenary, Pennine Lancashire Museums (PLM) and the Lancashire Classical Collaborations (LCC).

Ruth concluded with news that all districts on visitlancashire.com in 2013/14 had enjoyed double digit growth in traffic and that more people than ever were using the website – 1.2million unique users, and on that note Ruth introduced new Head of Multi Channel Marketing,  Emma Walton.

Emma continued with further positive news that Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, had all seen good growth over the previous year.  Members will continue to see significant developments to visitlancashire.com reflecting particular interest in cycling and weddings in Lancashire.  Visitlancashire.com is currently No 1 in Google natural searches for ‘weddings in Lancashire’ and many Members are already keen to be part of this new dedicated area on the county’s tourism website.

VisitLancashire.com has two new digital resources in 2104:  a new   i-pad version of the Welcome to Lancashire Visitor Guide – providing visitors on-the-go with access to quality, comprehensive information wherever they might be; a new digital diary – an easy to print events guide that hotels, attractions and information centres can offer their guests and visitors.

Emma also talked about the new segmentation and ‘personalisation’ opportunities that will soon be available through the Marketing Lancashire’s growing customer database and also gave a sneak preview of the new year-long campaign Discover Lancashire ‘look and feel’ – with a new Members opportunity document soon to be available, highlighting the ways Members can benefit from working with Marketing Lancashire and through visitlancashire.com.

Next to speak was new Head of Business Development Nick King who talked of a 25% growth in membership and the wide range of Members engagement events over the past year, as the team travelled the length and breadth of the county meeting Members to help them get the most out of their partnership with Marketing Lancashire.  

Those who engage with Marketing Lancashire and use the opportunities offered by visitlancashire.com and are making the most of their entry by adding rich content such as video, regularly refreshing images and including special offers, benefit greatly from the partnership and Nick drew attention to case studies Lancaster House Hotel, Brockholes and St Anne’s Beach Huts.  These Members benefit from up to 14000+ unique visitors from visitlancashire.com to their own websites, which leads directly to additional income and increased profile for their business.

“In terms of support, I couldn’t have asked for more really. Within a few days I was listed on the main tourist board website visitlancashire.com and the phone started ringing.”

Stuart Robinson, St Anne’s Beach Huts 

In the last year Marketing Lancashire has also offered a programme of workshops, delivered by retail and customer service guru Kate Hardcastle. Many Members have already benefited from these FREE workshops, which continue into April 2014.

Working in partnership is key to all our success and Nick reiterated that his team is on hand, often out on the road, showing Members how best to work with Marketing Lancashire to increase their business and raise their profile through visitlancashire.com.

Following a short break and some delicious refreshments and cakes supplied by the Samlesbury Hotel, the Members returned to hear from Anna Izza, Head of PR and Communications on how Marketing Lancashire is embracing the changing world of PR and Communications.

In the last year PR messages generated by Marketing Lancashire had reached over 40 million people in the UK alone but the media is changing, as are the days of purely counting ‘column inches’ and ‘advertising equivalent value’.  Today, we are creating many new conversations and PR through social media; in 2014, people in the UK will spend 8.5 hours a day on tablets and smart phones, overtaking consumption of TV for the first time.

Journalists and the media are also using these social media channels to uncover news and feature ideas and the digital devices we carry with us everywhere, have breathed new life into digital radio with 90% of the population now listening to radio every week.

Content is crucial to this digital engagement; good headlines, images, video all make social media interaction more effective.  Twitter in particular has been a vital tool to the PR and Communications team, which regularly reaches thousands of potential customers with single tweets and retweets.  In November the ‘Say Cheese for Lancashire Day’ campaign reached 13million people and was trending in the UK by early morning.

Involvement in key campaigns such as these and the upcoming Visit England Tourism Week campaign, using #ETW14 also help Lancashire businesses extend their reach.  Anna also recommended that local businesses explore the various ‘hours’ such as #Lancashirehour (Thurs 8pm – 9pm) as these are surefire ways of building interest in your product and getting people talking about your business.

Members should of course keep Anna and Laura Crabb up to date by sharing their press releases, which can then be used through our various channels to highlight what’s going on across the county.  Make sure we’re following you on Twitter as we aim to retweet as many ‘audience appropriate’ tweets as possible; as a rule this means @visitlancashire – for consumer interest and @MarketingLancs for business and stakeholder.

A final comment from Anna related to video/film content as a recent survey stated that by 2016 55% of all internet traffic would be video/film related and that potential customers are more likely to book a hotel room – if they’ve enjoyed a virtual tour first.  Again, Marketing Lancashire’s various channels including YouTube can host and promote your footage – which we also direct enquiries from journalists and media to view.

At this point it seemed most appropriate to introduce guest speakers Bobby Cochrane from Creative England and film location scout Jack Suckling. Creative England works in partnership with the British Film Commission and is the one-stop shop for locations, production liaison service, studios, crew and facilities.  Marketing Lancashire and Creative England work together with local authorities to promote Lancashire as a ‘film-friendly county’ in order to attract the economic benefits film-related activity can bring. Lancashire has enjoyed £1.2million of inward investment from the film industry but we can do more. 

One way is for businesses to add their property to the Creative England locations database. There are so many potential locations across the county that could be used for advertisements, TV or feature films and the locations required range from small terraced houses, back yards, gardens and farm buildings to grand houses, hotels and B&Bs to attractions and even office blocks.  It’s free to add a location to the database which is used by film makers and producers, looking for just the right place for their next shoot. Jack is one of several scouts on the lookout for locations and is a regular user of the database.  He spoke about what makes a good location and the wider benefits filming in an area can bring – such as hotel occupancy, restaurant and cafe business etc.  As well as perhaps introducing artists, actors and film makers to a new destination and converting them into a future visitor.

Bobby and Jack answered questions from the Members before Ruth closed this very informative, first Members Meeting of the year confirming real progress and with the promise of more exciting developments to come ‘The team is focused on delivery, results and added value for our Members, who we thank wholeheartedly for the support and positive enthusiasm they have shown us.  Here’s to working in true partnership and to raising the profile of Lancashire together.’


Members who were unable to attend on the day or who would like a reminder of the slide presentation can do so via Members Login and click on Recent Members Events.

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