No business is an island
Known too often as the space between London and Oxford, the Chilterns are a special place to live, work and play in. Communicating the special qualities of the Chilterns to your visitors is good for your business, making visitors aware of the wonderful countryside, experiences and attractions, and encouraging them to keep supporting local.
We face well-resourced competition from other domestic regions who are competing for market share and visitor spend and it is important to communicate why a visit to your business in the Chilterns is different and unique. It is not unusual for our sector to have tiny marketing budgets with a wealth of information to communicate - access and the ‘final mile’ can make or break a visitors experience and subsequent word of mouth recommendation.
We have developed free marketing resources for businesses located in the Chilterns who wish to grow their audiences by standing out in a crowded market place and communicating what a visit to the Chilterns is really like. And why our region is special.
Qualifying businesses will find us on Facebook @VisitChilterns where you can join our B2b community of over 200 local tourism suppliers.
Here are our top marketing tips
1. Joining the Chilterns Tourism Network (CTN) is free and it is a great opportunity to meet other tourism business owners and managers, attending networking and training events. Email info [at] visitchilterns.co.uk with your details. If you are able to host our meetings, do please get in touch.
2. Include a Google map of the region. Don’t assume your customers know about the Chilterns, or where it is. We know that many residents have very little knowledge or understanding of the region in which they live, so just imagine how little visitors know!
3. Let’s bust a tourism myth: visitors rarely travel to a region to visit just one business. They are more likely to travel if itineraries are offered that help them plan how best to access the best of the region and spend time and money with you. How do you do this? By collaborating with your neighbours. Looking for value for money opportunities to work together to develop new itineraries that encourage visitors to stay in the area longer.
4. Become an active partner in a sustainable and respectful future for our communities and visitor economy: sign up to the new Chilterns Business Promise
This is an opportunity around which our businesses can coalesce, to make a bold, collaborate move to a sustainable visitor economy, recognise the impact their business has on our communities and to operate responsibly. The challenge for the smaller, independent business, many of whom have been trading responsibly for years, is to share their passion and turning this into a Chilterns success;
- We welcome visitors
- We are accessible
- We buy from local suppliers
- We activity reduce food waste and recycle where we can
- We promote local events and neighbouring businesses
- Sense of place: we are proud of and share the Chilterns story
- We are a Chilterns ambassador
- We work collaboratively to share the economic benefits our visitors
- We are helping to build the Chilterns brand
- We offer free water refills & have joined the water re-fill initiative
- We offer re-charging, parking or secure lock-up facilities for bicycles - if applicable
The new Chilterns Promise is the opportunity for local business to be more vocal in their support of a genuine effort to make the Chilterns a sustainable visitor destination
5. There’s no excuse for poor images: we all have access to a smartphone, so there is no excuse for poor images on websites or Facebook. If you can’t take your own then as us, or search #Chilterns, to RT with permission, images that you think your customers will like.
6. Stand out by sourcing Chilterns food and drink; visitors will travel far to enjoy good, sustainable food and drink with clear Chilterns provenance in evidence.
7. Share your local knowledge and what makes the Chilterns so special: it’s valued and will be acted on. There is so much information on this website, and a good way to guide visitors in is through our market towns, key gateways and access points.
People who know the Chilterns quote these experiences amongst their favourite things:
- The way the sunlight filters through beech leaves overarching country lanes
- The sight and soft mewing call of a red kite, gently circling overhead
- Timeless views from grassy hilltops, looking down on peaceful farmlands
- A fragrant carpet of bluebells, stretching as far as the eye can see
- The exhilaration of a cycle ride along a challenging woodland track
- A village green, discovered suddenly down a quiet lane
- The lazy luxury of a cool day on the river
- Shop windows lighting up the dusk in a cosy market town
- The glint of frost on bare, sculpted hedgerows
- A warming glow of a delicious meal, served by the fireside in a country pub.
8. Build the brand and share the Chilterns story: share our website VisitChilterns.co.uk and our blog A Year in the Chilterns, use #Chilterns, like and be part of our consumer FB and twitter pages and share content with your communities.
9. Know Before You Go and enjoy your time in the Chilterns; as more businesses re-open post Covid-19, it’s not only important to communicate your offer, but also what restrictions there are locally. Any overflows of unticketed or unbooked visitors will spill out into the wider community - some of whom are not keen to have yet more crowds, inconsiderate parking and litter. Telling them that their memories of visiting your businesses and location will be different as the experience has changed will help manage expectations.
#SlowTravel #StayLocal #ConsiderateTravel #Chilterns #KnowBeforeYouGo
Examples of information that your customers should know about in advance of visiting, include:
■ Ticket information – do visitors need to book a ticket in advance? How do they book? What happens if they turn up without a ticket?
■ Capacity – are you limiting the number of people allowed inside your venue at any one time? Is there a queuing system in place? If some areas are going to be busy can you suggest alternatives nearby?
■ Cleanliness – are you offering additional hand washing facilities? Are toilet facilities available?
■ Food & drink – is there any food and drink available for purchase? If not, can they BYO?
■ Car parking – is car parking available? Does it need to be booked in advance? What alternatives are there?
By making this information available in advance you will be helping to manage customers' expectations.
10. How well do you know the Chilterns? Try and share our quiz!
If you need any specific help in implementing any of the above communication strategies, please get in touch with Mary Tebje