This week’s Tourism Society Conference held at Beaulieu in the New Forest provided plenty of food for thought for those of us involved with tourism destinations.
Neatly divided into themed sessions entitled Move, Eat, Sleep, Place and Connect the conference started with a keynote presentation given by David Quarmby. This focused on the goal of ‘creating the seamless destination’ and the importance of always looking at things from the visitors perspective. David also presented some interesting facts about tourism being responsible for generating 20% of all car mileage in Britain and 30% of rail travel mileage, adding that transport planners are often unaware of the link between tourism and travel.
Thomas Ableman of Chiltern Railways emphasised the need to respond with constant innovation to what passengers want – a safe, reliable and comfortable journey. He also spoke about the company’s tourism role, referring to Bicester Village as a key generator of overseas visitor journeys from London, particularly by Chinese visitors.
Continuing with ‘Eat’ Brigid Simmonds of the British Beer & Pub Association emphasised that “pubs are good for tourism and the community”, referencing ‘Pub is the Hub’, the importance of pubs in the eyes of overseas visitors, and a report by Oxford Economics which provides estimates of the local impact of the beer and pub trade – see http://www.beerandpubjobs.co.uk/
Sleep started with David Curtis-Brignell highlighting that although the total number of hotels in the country fell by 24% between 1999 and 2008, the number of rooms increased by 7%. Architect Dexter Moren summarised trends in hotel development, including optimising site value, sustainability of design and construction, and building conversion. Huw O’Connor of Moow Ltd assessed trends in technology, with an emphasis on improving the guest experience before and during their stay.
Former TMI President Anthony Climpson led the Place session, featuring case studies of Dubai and Warwick Castle. Georgina Kelly explained how innovation and reinvention combined to turn years of declining visitor numbers to a return to year on year growth at Warwick, despite budgets remaining at 1992 levels. Rebranded as ‘Britain’s Ultimate Castle’ ensuring that the brand is more than the logo and experiencing a visit through the eyes of a visitor – or ‘wearing brand goggles’ – are central to the turnaround.
Ben Tagg of NVG chaired the final Connect session in which TripAdvisor’s Karen Plumb highlighted how people are planning their trip is constantly evolving and the importance of monitoring and reacting to such changes.
Planning is well under way for the Annual Convention on 6/7 October but we’d still like to hear your views on what it should cover. You can do this quickly and easily by answering a few simple questions on the TMI poll, available at www.tmi.org.uk
NB This article was written and released by TMI on behalf of the Tourism Society.