Posted by: Carlos | December 29, 2012

Wasn’t worth the candle!

I don’t think I’ll ever attend a Westminster Forum event again in a hurry. To be frank I think they’re a bit pseudo, using the title to give the impression they’re more important than they really are. After looking at the initial agenda it was clear that the event managers were well out of touch with developments, having lined up of speakers set to deliver the same old, same old.

I was asked to suggest a speaker that could lift the lid on what was going on at VisitBritain and to give balance I proposed a second speaker who could signpost a new direction for UK tourism.

My first proposal was rejected in favour of the second with the result that only one side of the argument was presented in an anodyne debate where one speaker had the effrontery to criticise withdrawal of State aid from the National Tourism Open Platform.

It was an almighty show of ignorance from someone who should have known better and whose business had been adversely affected by the decision I suspect. It rather took my breath away and at that juncture I decided it wasn’t worth wasting words on the issue. Why he was on the panel in the first place I simply didn’t bother asking. All in all it was a bit of a sham and rather cheap.

Anyone paying £195 for this will have been cheated and even at the £80 concessionary rate there were only two speakers worth listening to.

Today’s seminar in London will focus on the future of UK Government’s tourism strategy on the heels of international exposure created by the Olympics. Sessions will bring together key policymakers, destination management organisations and other players from across the sector – including accommodation and hospitality providers, visitor attractions, venues, event organisers and tour operators, as well as those working in ticketing, travel agency and the industry’s wider supply chain.

Delegates will have the opportunity to consider the future of destination management, as well as challenges for creating a more efficient and competitive UK visitor economy – looking at areas such as technology, consumer feedback, taxation and business regulation. Delegates will also discuss Government’s recently announced initiatives to create a lasting post-2012 tourism legacy – including proposed investment in domestic, sporting and cultural tourism, as well as a strategy for tripling visitor numbers from China as visa controls are lifted.

By far the most important topic facing UK tourism, however, is the future of destination management as opposed to destination marketing, discussed in an earlier posting.

Destination Management Organisations (DMOs), funded over the last decade by public money, simply haven’t come to terms with the dynamics of the new marketplace and have failed to deliver on the promise. There is a presupposition that they still have a role to play in ‘promotion’, which has been interpreted as consumer marketing and where the UK tourism authorities have fallen foul of Competition Law and State aid regulations. In doing so they have perversely filled coffers of technology companies and online travel agents at the expense of front-line tourism businesses.

DMOs are best placed to do what they should have done from the beginning, which is manage destinations to enhance the visit experience. This is the only legitimate marketing tool available to public-funded tourism bodies if they are to remain compliant. Destination brands are not created by advertising; they are the sum total of visitors’ experience of a destination and the stories they tell and hear about them.

The question to be asked at today’s seminar is how can DMO’s and local bodies use destination management to greater effect in building strong destination brands based on locations and themes; how quickly can they extricate themselves from the consumer marketing space before more damage is done to UK tourism’s prospects, and how can they distance themselves from those that have benefited most in the past from Governments’ largesse in marketing expenditure?

The answers will be reported in this space over the next few days.

Posted by: Carlos | December 5, 2012

Tourism Wales UK Booking Enquiries; New Record Set

Tourism Wales UK members have shared a new record £2.6m booking enquiries by email since and Staying in Wales joined forces; plus many other enquiries impossible to value because they go direct to members by phone.

This month 27,000 individuals and families will be introduced to the new Wales Facebook Page. Members who ‘Like’ the page can post offers as often as they like to reach an infinite number of holidaymakers.

The engine that drives the Wales UK Tourism and Social Media Platform is operated by members through their My Account pages, including their new Facebook entries. Like any engine, regular servicing guarantees good performance and members should use their login details to fine tune their pages as often as they can.

Next year Tourism Wales UK celebrates its 25th succesful year without a break, providing advertising, marketing innovation and membership services to tourism businesses in Wales since 1988. The comprehensive list of Membership Benefits are testimony to a strategy that’s taken the long view and proved itself time and again.

Members that haven’t already done so should make sure their subscription is fully paid up for next year to benefit from the email burst before Christmas to the 27,000 recipients mentioned above, and to ‘Like’ the new Wales Facebook Page well before the campaign begins.

Help and advice on any aspect of Wales tourism is given freely by Tourism Wales UK at with callbacks at members’ convenience when requested.

Posted by: Carlos | December 5, 2012

Wales Coastal Tourism Strategy

After winning £17.5k from the GeoVation Wales Coast Path Challenge competition and raising £33.5k from Wikimedia UK, Wicipedia Cymru has submitted a proposal for a 12-month Digital Communities project entitled Llwybrau Byw! Living Paths!

The project will demonstrate how the Wales Coast Path can generate economic outcomes through practising the 3 x Cs of Internet Marketing – content, community and commerce – and marks a new direction in marketing Wales worldwide. 3,000 tourism businesses in Wales’ coastal counties are set to benefit from the project.

Posted by: Carlos | November 5, 2012

Destination Management v Destination Marketing

By Terry Jackson

After raging on for well over a year, the management-marketing debate seems to have finally exhausted itself. Destination managers should focus on maintaining and improving a destination’s infrastructure and infostructure to help enhance the overall visit experience and develop the brand. A destination brand is the sum total of visitors’ experience of a destination, and stories they have heard about a destination from other visitors. The only marketing tool available to destination managers is, therefore, good destination management.

Destination marketing is a different art and different again from traditional destination marketing. All 9 x Ps of tourism marketing still apply but it’s the 3 x Cs of internet marketing with an equal emphasis on all three that reap the rewards. Despite the efforts of Project Ffynnon back in the mid 1990s, Wales has still not fully grasped this new paradigm with Welsh Government and Local Authorities sharing much, if not all, of the blame.

Over fifteen years on we’ve seen the emergence of Flickr, Google and others who grasped the importance of content and GI, leaving Wales trailing after its early pioneering lead. This time round it’s a rich ‘Content’ partnership in Wales with Wicipedia Cymraeg supported with funding from Wikmedia UK and the Wales Settlements Project & WikiWales that’s signposting the way forward. It’s already seen Monmouth as the first Wikipedia town in Wales but will the flat-footed strike again?

No, I don’t think so. This time it’s too big even for them to resist and Wales should seize the initiative with both hands and keep a really firm grip going forward. Wales is well positioned now to take early advantage of the semantic web and we shouldn’t throw away the opportunity like last time.

To keep within the scope of the group discussion this article’s taken from at for ‘Community’ read tourism associations; better still village and town associations. Villages and towns are the new micro-destinations, eminently marketable on the web but it’s the whole idea that makes them shine not tourism businesses alone as we know them.

Every settlement has its USP no matter how obscure and there are niche markets out there for everything you could imagine. Wales future lies down the long marketing tail of niche interests and not at the head of the tail where competition is fierce and low margins are eaten away by commission. The sooner we wake up to this the better and focus on ‘Commerce’ as the final C that changes everything for the better.

Posted by: Carlos | November 5, 2012

Wales Settlements Project & WikiWales: Feasibility Report

phil evans pic2


In a Wales tourism setting, the Wales Settlements Project & WikiWales is a perfect vehicle for piloting the application of semantic web technology, cloud computing, and wiki software for knowledge management and rich content creation; all with the aim of enhancing the online experience of potential visitors to Wales and their in-trip use of mobile devices for a richer, more playful experience. It advocates a substantial step change in the degree of open data sharing by public and third sector stewards of rich content on Wales, to enable private sector players to mix and match it with commercial data, to monetise it, and thus achieve economic outcomes for the common good and Wales’ tourism economy.

It recognises that commercial activity of this nature is not the prevail of public sector bodies whose foci should be on managing rather than marketing physical assets that give rise to content. It conjectures that all marketing must lead to a sale if economic outcomes are to be realised and that, in general, the public sector has neither the skill sets nor products in its gift to deliver these transactions.

Even more apposite is the study’s coincidence with rulings anticipated from the European Commission on State aid, and the Office of Fair Trading on alleged anti-competitive activity by online travel agents, both of which are likely to see public sector withdrawal from tourism consumer marketing to concentrate its resources instead on tourism management to help enhance the overall visit experience. Tourism management is considered by experts to be best and most ligitimate marketing tool available to the public sector.

Leaving aside the technical issues covered exhaustively in my Business Plan Development Report dated December 2011, the Wales Settlements Project & WikiWales, based on cluster marketing principles, also ushers in the concept of micro-destination marketing: the notion that all communities have something to offer visitors no matter how obscure. Given the rich content that leads to its revelation, it adds to an exceptionally long keyphrase marketing tail of niche interests in line with the three Cs of internet marketing: Community, Content, Commerce.

Multiplied by the 3,079 settlements in the Convergence programme area and magnified through the Welsh language, it will give readers of my earlier report and this new feasibilty report an immense sense of what’s in store.


Phil Evans
Managing Director
Location Wales Online Limited
14th September 2012

Posted by: Carlos | January 30, 2011

Star-Grading News and Analysis

There has been much media speculation over the last few weeks about the future of the star-grading scheme in the UK with an announcement from the British Hospitality and Restaurants Association and an item in the Wales Tourism Alliance’s February Newsletter entitled UK Tourism Minister says he will Scrap Grading Schemes.

Why is this happening?

There are a number of converging forces at work here, summarised as follows:

1. The Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) is due this month (February) to publish the UK Tourism Strategy for the next 4 years.

2. The PM in his speech on tourism last August called for the strongest possible tourism strategy with measures to stimulate the private sector in tourism.

3. He said the old model was too top-down, failing to incentivise innovation and local enterprise.

4. In its Business Plan DCMS seeks to strip away red tape and stimulate private sector investment to create conditions for tourism growth.

5. The sector should be free to drive its own success – with the Government only intervening where there is a real need.

6. This will enable the tourism sector to deliver faster, more balanced economic growth and streamline and refocus tourism organisations in the process.

7. Visit Britain and Visit England will have to find administrative cost savings of 50% over the next four years 2011-2014.

8. The ban preventing owners advertising their properties in Government i.e. State-aided publications if they have chosen (a) not to enter the National Quality Assurance Scheme or (b) to have their properties graded under alternative schemes, has been subject of a long-standing State aid complaint to the European Commission

9. The ruling from the Commission is expected to be in favour of the complainants, judging the practice to be anti-competitive under Competition Law Rules.

10. Removal of State support from the National Quality Assurance Scheme would be a rational response to this ruling.

11. It would leave property owners free to choose which scheme they wish to join (if any) and compare the different marketing opportunities available from each according to need and budget available.

12. Marketing opportunities under the National Quality Assurance Scheme no longer favour property owners. They have grown increasingly restricted and bear little resemblance to new opportunities available in the open market.

13. Amongst these opportunities is reputation management through social media and user reviews. The free Owners’ Centre introduced by TripAdvisor is a prime example.

14. DCMS has recognised the power of user reviews to deliver quality messages and while these are not yet perfect in an imperfect world, the National Quality Assurance Scheme also has its drawbacks and is a net cost to taxpayers.

The media speculation would appear, therefore, to be well founded.

What happens now?

Tourism authorities have been preparing for this since the State aid case gathered momentum. Here is a summary of what to expect:

1. Visit Wales will offer listings based on adherence to basic statutory requirements through self-assessement with a nominal fee payable and spot inspections over a two year period.

2. A version of the old grading scheme is likely to be trialled over the next 12 months and abandoned if there is insufficient support from property owners.

3. The Regional Tourism Companies will lose any remaining credibility as delivery agents for Visit Wales marketing as property owners seek more viable alternatives.

4. (Tourism Wales UK) will continue to recognise Visit Wales Star Gradings as long as the scheme exists with provision made for displaying AA Star Ratings in future.

5. Greater emphasis will be placed by (Tourism Wales UK) on user reviews working directly with Google Places and TripAdvisor.

6. The AA Star Ratings scheme shares quality standards in common with the National Quality Assurance Scheme and will remain unaffected.

7. Owners whose properties are assessed and recognised by Visit Wales can join the AA as Associate Members and have their current Visit Wales star gradings recognised.

8. Tourism businesses’ use of social media and user reviews in their own websites will form criteria for ‘Platinum’ in the new UK WelcomeWeb awards scheme.

Further information will be given here as soon as the UK Tourism Strategy 2011-2014 is published.

– End –

2011 Membership

Posted by: Carlos | January 21, 2011

Unleash the power of Google Places and TripAdvisor

Don’t spend a penny more on marketing until you read this.

Love them or hate them, Google and TripAdvisor have changed the face of tourism marketing forever through the all-out launch of Google Places and the TripAdvisor Owners’ Centre.

The implications for independent tourism business adopting these new, direct-marketing channels are huge with operating cost savings up to 25% for serviced accommodation and 35% for self-caterers depending how quickly the new opportunities are siezed.

There’s no looking back. Organisations in the middle – booking agencies, tourist information centres, regional tourism companies, regional tourism partnerships, tourist boards – all in denial, will be squeezed out of the market with operating costs wiped out and passing to front line businesses as increased profit.

It’s not in the interest of these anachronisms to precipitate their own demise by telling you this. They will seek instead to buy time and reinvent themselves but it will be too little, too late; the cost savings are available now.

Deals already negotiated for Wales this year with TripAdvisor, eviivo frontdesk®, Holiday Lettings and Just Booking are just the start of a wide range of digital products and services flowing into the market to supplement Google Places in favour of small hotels, B&Bs, and self-catering property owners.

Change is never comfortable but the results will be rewarding to businesses owners in Wales able to grasp these new opportunities.

Sign up today and have powerful players like Google Places and TripAdvisor make the difference for your business.

Posted by: Carlos | November 26, 2010

Advertising your hotel or bed & breakfast on the internet

Small independent accommodation businesses in Wales are continually looking for ways to advertise on the internet to drive visitors to their Wales hotel or guest house. This is not been an easy task because not only are they up against the big marketing spend of large hotel and motel chains but as independent businesses they are unable to achieve economies of scale and simply become needles in a haystack on the worldwide web. Read More…

Posted by: Carlos | November 20, 2010

Tomorrow’s Tourist Today Workshop Report

Forty tourism business owners and technology company representatives attended the Tomorrow’s Tourist Today workshop at the Conwy Business Centre, North Wales on 16th November 2010.

Their aim was to come up with new ideas to help boost tourism to Wales as we enter a new decade on 1st January next year.

Presentations were received from Google’s spatial technologist Ed Parsons and Terry Jackson of on new products and services already replacing search engine marketing as we know it, and will deliver increases in bookings and occupation rates for Wales at the same time as reducing business operating costs by up to 35%. Read More…

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