Month: August 2021
1. Firstly the one to what out for:
As an organisation we have become increasingly concerned about alleged price gouging in certain areas of the domestic market and, specifically, the likely reputational damage that this will have done to UK domestic tourism as a whole now and, with the certain return to far greater outbound competition for the UK domestic holiday pound, the damage and the lost opportunity costs it could have in or for future years. The primary area of concern lies around hard to justify/ unjustifiably high price increases in the self-catering accommodation market and involves both traditional and new sharing economy providers and their routes to market (OTA and sharing platforms).
We believe that increases in some cases of a third or more on 2019 late summer 2020 prices can’t be justified and that cumulatively these increases will only serve to reinforce the previously erroneous view among those not used to holidaying in the UK that it is an overly expensive destination, whist at the same time, serving to alienate, or even disenfranchise, many a previously loyal supporter of the UK domestic industry.
In current circumstances some prices increases can of course be justified to recoup previously lost income or, in particular, to offset increased supply, services and staffing costs. Given the nature of self-catering this where it become a more obvious target for questions about ethics behind the decision making and, particularly, about the some of the apparent levels of increase imposed.
Unfortunately we are now not the only ones concerned about the perceived problem. Tonight (Monday 7pm) BBC’s Panorama are airing a programme on the subject. We are not fully aware of the content but from comments from colleagues asked to participate and from snippets of promotional material we have seen published it is unlikely to be gratifying for either those sub-sectors featured or, by inference, for the domestic industry as a whole. Moreover, is highly likely that the programme will prompt a wave of interest from other local, regional and national media providers and the public in general, hence, the perceived need to alerting you to the programme in advance of its broadcast and with only the vaguest of notion of its detailed content. Forewarned hopefully is forearmed.
2. I have added the VisitEngland’s Visitor Attractions Trends in 2020 report published last week to the Research and Statistics -by year page of BritishDestinations.net. Although the period covered is 2020 and therefore heavily impacted by Covid-19 I have reverted to including it in the main research library, not the specific c-19 research section. It is well worth a read in full but headline comments, most if not all of which are relevant to the wider UK attraction’s market, can be found at pages 10 to 15: https://britishdestinations.net/research-and-statistics/
In a previous update I mentioned changes to the methodology for Great British Tourism Statistics (GBTS) and the fact that comparability, thankfully would be maintained by reissuing the previous 10 year’s of data recalculated using the new methodology . I did so to alert those who use local data largely generated from Regional and above level GBTS that there may be a potential problem with comparability for their local data arising?
I also mused about whether changed EU derived requirements for UK tourism data might have a negative impact on the maintenance of vital international (IPS) and domestic GBTS and day visits and other national or nation specific research. In doing so I erroneously suggested that GBTS and some of the other critical national data was the product of ONS (ONS produce the International Passenger Survey). GBTS and GB Day visitor survey are the joint products of the three British tourist boards and are paid for by them, as are individual nation reports like the English Attractions survey above.
My careless error in attributing the production of these reports to ONS does not change the fact that these high level reports are essential tools for much of the industry; often underpinning or playing a vital role in deriving below regional, local level estimates (dependent on what commercial models are used). It doesn’t really matter which Government agency provides them; what matters is that the importance of the data is recognised during this period or radical upheaval and that those bodies and agencies providing them are adequately resourced by Government to allow them to keep providing them. With the Comprehensive spending review looming this all the more important and I would suggest time sensitive.
3. Coastal members in England and Wales may wish to note that the Environment Agency has issued a short consolation letter outlining how it intends to address the lack of bathing water samples taken last year. Last years results are an issue because the standard achieved are now based on a four year rolling average and a 2020 results or lack of them therefore influences results in the following three years not simply in the following year as was once the case.
This is very much a practical issue directed towards bathing water controllers but it may have positive or negative marketing or other implications for beaches that are typically borderline poor or dipping in and out of excellent . If it is of any interest to you please see the UK Beach Management Forum (a subset of British Destination and run by us) update at:
4. I will be confirming details of our joint one day Tourism Conference and Westminster Parliamentary event, hopefully by the end of this week. Meanwhile save the date Monday of 15 November.
We are also eagerly anticipating the publication, hopefully this month but possibly later, of the English DMO review, one of the proposed key topics for the conference. Depending on the final recommendations and of course the all important acceptance by Ministers, this publication and more accurately implementation could be critical moment for destination management in England and, over time by association, destination management elsewhere. Or it could of course herald a variation on business as usual for some or all English destination managers, albeit in far from usual times. Everything now hinges on what the review proposes and how any new or redirected resource made available to enable change is then deployed, to whom and for what purposes.
I have been working with Web.com a major international webservice provider (and owner of most of the UK’s major business directory services) to develop and promote a free online presence health check service for, in this instance, tourism businesses in member destinations. I don’t necessarily believe that there is anything particularly unique about what they are offering, although having used their services myself, I can personally testify to the quality and, in particular, the usefulness of the FREE advice they offer. It comes with no obligation to act on it; the written reports and consultation can be used to make improvement yourself, used by your own service providers or you can take up as few or as many of web.’s services as you feel are needed. Their offer to us includes a £50 discount on any service purchased with a cost of over £100.
I know from conversations with different members that the quality of websites, social media and general online presence, including basics like claiming and managing your own google entry for example, varies significantly, with particularly problems around many micro and SME’s, together with some issues among some of the long established larger, more traditional businesses. I am also told that there is often resistance to and/or suspicion of various locally driven initiatives to improve the quality of presence through low or no cost inhouse or, outsourced local commercial solutions. My firm belief is that as we transition out of the pandemic to a new and almost certainly changed business environment, now is not the time to ignore any ingrained but completely unnecessarily, flawed online presence among a proportion of your already potentially struggling businesses.
I am hoping to help break the existing barrier to take up of health checks and other free or paid for improvement by acting as an honest broker, partnering with any willing destination members to introduce Web.’s free and paid for services. British Destinations can if you wish front the local offer and by doing so take any reputational risk, not that I believe that there is any. Or it can be done as an “in association with” or whatever arrangement suits your own circumstances. I don’t necessarily expect an immediate large uptake now but by demonstrating that this is something that other peer and competitor destinations are doing jointly through a national tourism trade body, it may help to start chivvy along the more enlightened but nervous or uncertain members in your business communities. The more that take part successfully over the coming months the more we can encourage others to take part and improve in the future.
If you wish to offer the entirely free online health check and entirely free 1 hour consultation to your businesses (or indeed have your own sites assessed as a testbed) let me know and I will arrange for Web. to set up an individual to each destination businesses, sign up page and arrange for bespoke to your requirement promotional materials. The offer can be tailored to go to as many or as few local businesses and business types as you see fit, as you will retain control over both distribution and content of any promotional materials.
The following is an example of the offer, but in this instance uses my contact detail not web.’s. The link to the sign up page is there as both an example of what business would need to do to participate but it is also a live link should any of you wish to test the offer yourselves before considering committing to trying out a joint partnership with web. and British Destinations.
FREE MEMBER OFFER
As you know, with the world emerging from the pandemic, online health as well as personal health has never been more important, and we are pleased to announce that we have negotiated a special deal for British Destinations members, and their members, to participate in a free Digital Health check with Web.com, and a free consultation from their digital experts.
The Digital Healthcheck will involve running your website through a simple reporting tool that will identify areas of improvement and give you insights to use yourself, for your digital agency, or if you want help from Web.com they are also happy to offer £50 off any of their services if you spend over £100. There is NO obligation to use Web.com for any services, and the Healthcheck report and the consultation is completely FREE.
If you would like to take up this offer, just go to https://webreport.web.com/?campaignid=PZDBNF and if you would like to extend this offer to your own members, please contact Peter Hampson on 07714341379 firstname.lastname@example.org
For further information about Web.com and their services, please download this brochure, or visit humanfaceof.digital.”