A free 60-minute contingency planning surgery for tourism and leisure businesses
We are offering a free 60-minute contingency planning surgery for tourism and leisure business owners in the Solent LEP region. This could be a one-on-one session or you can bring together a number your colleagues for a team session. The sessions would be led by our team and would be hosted via Zoom. In the first instance please contact Kevin Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org
Planning Solutions Consulting has joined forces with Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) to offer a sector specific business support service to help adjust to the current upheaval faced by the tourism and leisure industry as a whole.
PSC is an experienced specialist tourism and leisure consultancy based in Havant, Hampshire. PSC has worked on a range of tourism projects – from adventure activity centres through to visitor attractions, nature reserves and accommodation. Please click here to see details on specific projects. Our sister company also operates a number of tourism and leisure businesses.
COVID-19 and tourism and leisure businesses
The timing of the closure of tourism businesses, from visitor attractions to activity and accommodation operations across the UK probably came at the worse time of year – just before Easter, which is usually the first occasion since Christmas where significant revenue can be generated, events launched and bookings taken for the season ahead.
If we look at the wider UK economy, businesses within the tourism and leisure sectors have been particularly hard hit. Interestingly, the weather over Easter and early Spring this year has been particularly sunny which in some ways has added to the painful news around the virus crisis for tourism businesses!
How can we plan for the new ‘normal’?
We are in an unprecedented time. Once restrictions are lifted there is unlikely to be return to the old ways of working for visitor attractions, at least in the short-term. As attraction operators and managers of tourism businesses there is going to be an imperative to change the current operational and business models we have relied upon. It is critical to start planning for the new normal, particularly, as the summer period is fast approaching. We should also recognise that tourism as a ‘sector’ of the UK economy will play a critical role in the wider economic recovery of the country.
Data driven solutions
Developing solutions should be informed by hard and soft data, which will ensure future development planning is evidence based.
There is a strong requirement to understand the needs of visitors. Is it very likely they will be rightly concerned about the safety of their families and we need to understand these concerns.
A short survey designed to capture information about the needs and intentions of your visitors will be essential. An online survey service such as Survey Monkey can be used to collect and analyse the data. Promoting the survey using your own website and social media channels will help to raise awareness of the module of research. Incentives can be offered to generate a higher response rate. The data can then be used to inform a range of operational procedures, such as for example, admissions processes, catering and retail strategies, membership sales etc.
At the same time, it will be important to consider wider market trends which could also impact on your attraction once re-opened. For example, consumer confidence levels and tourism trends at a destination management level.
Communicating with customers (along with staff and volunteers)
When we started working back in the tourism sector, websites didn’t exist. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube couldn’t even have been imagined. As operators within the tourism sector we fully understand there are a range of channels open to us which provide a strong position to communicate with our customers and to keep them up to date with our latest plans. More importantly these digital channels, including email lists, allow us to engage with our customers and members cost-effectively – we can have two-way conversations.
Don’t forget that your staff and volunteers should be included within this communication strategy.
New funding will need to be secured to take forward some development initiatives and there may be funds (loans and grants) which are launched as available for some tourism businesses. It will be important to keep a regular watching brief on this over the next few months. However, there may be a need to secure additional borrowings to help with cashflow management. A sound business case, HM Treasury Green Book compliant, may need to be made to support future funding applications either from public or private sources.
Working in partnership
Partnership working with other visitor attractions and tourism businesses in the local area will become more important. Collectively, the marketing spend can have a great impact.
A twin track approach
Whilst we have focused the attention of this piece on the immediate short-term recovery phase, we must not lose sight of the medium / long term development strategy. A ‘twin track approach’ can be adopted which considers both the short-term recovery phase along with the medium / longer term development planning.
As COVID-19 restrictions are lifted some areas of the attractions sector, for example, country parks, forest sites and National Parks are like to benefit. Whilst other indoor attractions and some forms of visitor accommodation are likely to face additional challenges and more restrictive regulations and operating practices.
About us and how we can help…
Planning Solutions Consulting, is a local company, based in Havant. We have been working as advisors to clients in the tourism, leisure, recreation and heritage sectors for 25 years. Clients in the South including: Havant Borough Council, Horizon Leisure, Butser Ancient Farm, Hampshire County Council, Chichester District Council, Portsmouth Partnership, Southampton City Council, Tourism South East and Portsmouth Water.
Our sister company manages four visitor attractions, a hotel and microbrewery, two high ropes experiences and we recognise the challenges the tourism and leisure sector currently faces.
We are here to help existing and new clients, particularly in terms of providing support and recovery planning advice in four key areas:
- Recovery planning (strategic and market analysis)
- Research and intelligence services
- Product development to meet the needs of the market
- Option appraisals – identifying and evaluating future opportunities with a focus on identifying financial implications
- Working with clients to develop new operational and marketing plans – with a focus on cost savings and income generation
- Preparing business cases to support funding application
PSC is a tourism consultancy. If you would like to talk to Kevin Brown today please drop Kevin an email email@example.com