Christmas message from the Chief Executive
2020 has been a roller coaster of a year but the team at Marketing Lancashire has never been prouder to work in, and for, this incredible county. The passion and compassion that everyone has shown has been an inspiration. Our partners, stakeholders and fellow businesses have demonstrated all the qualities that make Lancashire the amazing place that it is: innovation; industrial excellence; collaboration; hard work and tenacity. We might be down at the moment, but we are very far from out.
Lancashire will not only survive, we will thrive once again.
We are very much looking forward to working with you in 2021, and to meeting you in person again as soon as it is possible to do so. In the meantime, here are some of the highlights of the last 12 months because, despite the challenges, we have worked throughout 2020 in the interest of Lancashire, our tourism and hospitality partners and the many people and businesses that have pivoted or adapted to keep us all going.
Thank you to all those who have supported and helped us to deliver these projects and campaigns.
Last, but by no means least, I would like to wish you a safe, happy and restful Christmas. Let’s recharge our batteries, as we are going to need them in the New Year!
In January we were busy promoting Lancashire in some key international markets as part of Discover England funded activity. We welcomed travel trade contacts from India, featured in a ‘Northern Coast’ package launched by TUI in Germany, showcased Lancashire experience itineraries in the Nordics, and built new trade relationships in Canada and the US as part of England’s Historic Cities. We also hosted the first ‘Women in Food’ industry event in the north at Lancaster University – including a Taste Lancashire pop up food market, masterclasses and a thought-provoking panel discussion.
In February we appointed a film director to work with us on the live/work campaign, developed in partnership with our Lancashire Ambassadors, the film brief was to inspire people to come and live and work in Lancashire. We also secured approval from all 15 Leaders of Lancashire’s Local Authorities to intensify investment in the promotion of Lancashire internationally, and as an inward investment destination. The support from our local authority partners has been more critical than ever this year and we couldn’t be more grateful for it.
In March, we were geared up to take Lancashire’s largest ever delegation over to MIPIM in Cannes. We sadly never made the plane, but the support, energy and enthusiasm of the partnership was such that we rolled our commitment, and stand ready to promote Lancashire’s investment proposition at future international events.
In April, like so many of you, we adjusted to working from home and having some of the team on furlough. The Marketing Lancashire Board really stepped up to support both the organisation and our partners, having bi-weekly meetings and fighting for every piece of information and support we could possibly secure. I owe them an awful lot, both personally and professionally. And I also want to thank the entire Team at Marketing Lancashire for working so hard throughout this most extraordinary year.
In May we launched our ‘See You Soon, Safely’ campaign, sending love to Lancashire’s loyal visitors from the businesses so desperate to be welcoming them back. It was a deliberate move away from ‘Stay at Home’ – a warmer, friendlier, more Lancastrian message, keeping our amazing attractions, accommodation providers, bars and restaurants front of mind.
In June with many businesses poised and ready to go as the end of lockdown drew near, we were devising a new campaign. Lancashire’s businesses had been innovating and evolving throughout the crisis wherever possible, but it was clear that our way of life would be markedly different for a long time to come. We felt #RedefiningLancashire was the right balance between building on all the amazing assets that still exist in the county, but evolving and redefining the way that we do things.
In July as businesses started to open, we began to promote Visit Lancashire Safely. This included the upcoming Eat Out to Help Out scheme, social media prize draws and staycations. Lancashire’s businesses went above and beyond to make sure that they were Covid secure, keeping staff and visitors safe. Within one week of the launch of the ‘We’re Good to Go‘ national standard, over 700 business in Lancashire had signed up.
In August we secured £300k from the Cabinet Office, in partnership with Visit Blackpool, to promote the county as part of the national ‘Enjoy Summer Safely’ campaign. We extended the reach of #RedefiningLancashire to over 3.9m people, with over 2.8m engagements on Facebook alone. We have worked hard to keep those eyeballs on Lancashire and still build on that legacy every day.
In September Lancashire was battling on through additional restrictions and we continued to seek out every possible bit of business support. We supported Boost with the launch of the Kick Start grant funding scheme, and we secured a funded ‘Peer Network’ programme for tourism and hospitality businesses, including a series of high impact group sessions and 1-2-1 support running through until March 2021.
In October we supported the LEP’s Innovation Board in the delivery of a month-long Festival of Innovation, showcasing the businesses and sectors in Lancashire demonstrating world-class innovation day in day out, and probably never more so than in 2020. The festival delivered 31 events with over 50 speakers and you can see a short round up here.
In November it was Lancashire Day, and what a Lancashire Day it was. We invited the county to share thank you photo messages and virtual hug videos, and they responded in their thousands. The hashtag #LancashireDay reached out to a record-breaking 147 million people (compared to 124 million in 2019), in 846 different locations around the world. It was truly heart-warming to see the county proudly celebrating what makes Lancashire and Lancastrians so special.
In December, the battle goes on. We are sadly still in Tier 3 restrictions and many of our resilient, dedicated and downright incredible tourism and hospitality businesses have not been able to open their doors. It is not the Christmas we had hoped for. BUT, we have attracted thousands of people to our Shop Lancashire pages, encouraging people to buy gifts and experiences in real or voucher form from our incredible Lancashire businesses. And with the vaccination programme rolling out, we look with positivity towards the New Year, ready to welcome people back to Lancashire as soon as it is safe to do so.
So, here’s to 2021. Let’s make it a brilliant one. You thoroughly deserve it. We all do.