Andrew Backhouse, North West Heritage Tourism Executive, Research – feedback on the findings of the recently commissioned Heritage Tourism Research for the NWDA in partnership with the National Trust and English Heritage, to review the heritage offer in England’s North West to enable heritage attractions, local authorities, and place-makers to provide insights into the role that heritage currently plays – and could – play in the region’s tourism offer. What we’ve had is people’s individual research in the past but we’ve tried to put all of the heritage attractions into the research. I’m picking out some of the key points which I think are relevant to you – but there are specific points in the research for tourist boards, for councils, and for attractions. We need to look more at the market’s wants and less at what we like to offer in some ways. As a heritage person, I found some of the stuff irritating, but definitely stuff I need to know!
Attractions are not the draws that I thought they were – its the whole place that brings people in from further afield. Need to promote the fact that the heritage is the added value that a place gives – look at what Blackpool is beginning to get with its world heritage bid and THI.... We have to make sure our places promote the heritage as the backdrop to their images....
I thought you’d enjoy a couple of images – because apparently these are really important. Which one draws you to visit? Which one uses our heritage as the backdrop to our activities in a good way? Heritage is a picturesque streetscape in which to shop, eat or stroll.
~And how do these rate for you? We have to use images that bring people to the fore and draw in families and those who want something different and special.
Things were seen as too educational, very traditional, could not be booked ahead, and other places were better……
Heritage is the backdrop – ambience. Culture and heritage as motivators for overseas visitors. People want a day out – and that involves food and drink and retail. Apparently the people most likely to make a decision are the wives rather than the male enthusiast – something that will draw things together for each member of the family. Unless you are a small very specialist attraction, you need to be looking at what you need to sell with to draw people in. For Lancaster, it’s got to be the chance to shop and to enjoy the history. We need to market our attractions as part of the bigger place. Unless there are events that are fun for more of the family, why would you visit several of our attractions? Blackpool Tower is at least seen as the key attraction for Blackpool! And Morecambe and Blackpool are places where heritage gives character and personality….
TO draw in families and empty nesters.....And they have to be quality in their welcome and look. If the children are happy, so are the family. Post family visitors want a variety of cultural and heritage things but at a relaxed pace, with food and good surroundings. We can still use period reconstructions, dressing up and demonstrations in costume all can help. And events that are well thought out...
Note – not what are we offering! No surprises I am sure for any of you here. I was impressed that Muncaster Castle – you may remember Peter Frost-Pennington came to an LHA a few years ago, has introduced tygit –an online selling device for tickets and events which is cheap and working well – available to all to use…..
Working together you can do more to do marketing and promotions and cross sell and reassure visitors they have a good day out if you can link it to the destination with retail and shopping. And those of you looking at bidding for HLF money, to be more self sustaining in the future really have to build this in to the system. I went to look at a lovely grade 1 listed building which has £7m of investment including HLF money going in – and there was no money seen as available for catering….. So lets not see the Harris selling separate to Preston, and do like Leighton Hall in selling to groups with the Borough Restaurant in Lancaster. Let’s see more vouchers to trade in to other places and creative pricing on the web. If you have a real heritage product that only the enthusiast will see, concentrate on the web.
Historic Royal Palaces seen as a really good web way of selling using the web in interesting ways, with Henry VIII’s blog and such like to draw people in.....
One of the things the research showed is that Industrial heritage is not the great draw that it might be – it’s so much more about story and social history. If we are going to promote industrial heritage we need to tie it to the places and stories . Our most recent research on industrial heritage is more about seeing the NW as the place that shaped the modern world, it’s modern history, and therefore much more appealing than dull past.
This is the page for the full research documentation.
Heritage Tourism Research for the North West Lessons for Lancashire Heritage Attractions
Historic Buildings are a crucial backdrop to places – and need the public realm to be good to make them shine