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Step four

How can you turn your vision into a reality?

Set your key objectives

With a collective vision for your area, and a better understanding of what you aspire to offer visitors, you are now ready to create a sustainable strategy to give you clear direction and focus and help deliver the ideas you have developed.

Your destination development plan will form one of your key business documents over the coming years and will be the basis for all future development. It will give you a clear direction, with ways to help your area achieve its goals.

Challenge 14: Put targets, timescales and measurements to your priority objectives

It's important to ask for the destination - How will we know if we have been successful? You will need to put in place monitoring mechanisms based on the objectives you have set above. 

If your objective is to increase the average length of stay for your leisure visitors from three nights to four nights, you need to regularly monitor what the current length of stay is, and find out how you're going to track it in the future.

Get your community involved

To give visitors a seamless experience it’s important to adopt a strong partnership approach with the relevant public sector agencies and community groups.

As a tourism destination tends to put the whole community on show, selling its culture, history and environment, it can impact on all who live and work there. It is important to have community support from the outset.  

Identify the right champions and leaders to drive action

Strong leadership is vital to the success of your destination development efforts and so identifying the right leaders and champions within your business community is vital.

The partnership group itself needs a strong leader. This should be someone with the credibility and local influence to be able to drive plans forward. 

Challenge 15: Know your community organisations

Successful destinations work closely with community groups, especially community councils and business associations. 

Make a list of the key contacts in the following organisations.

  • Community - community council, residents’ associations
  • Business - chamber, business groupings
  • Tourism representative groups - sector groups, tourist associations

Challenge 16: Destination map

Many of the organisations on this map will hold plans and policies that could affect the overall destination development of your area. 

Draw your own destination map naming the specific groups relevant to you, then get in touch with them to discuss how their plans may affect the overall aspirations of your area.  

Challenge 17: Know the relevant plans and policies

Use this sheet to fill in all the relevant plans and policies that affect tourism in your area.  

How can your overall area plans influence and be influenced by these plans and policies? Discuss with your partnership group and highlight any actions.

Deliver promise to visitors

Having developed the key messages for your area, it’s important to make sure that these messages are reflected in the product you offer. 

The key points you should remember are:

  • the product you offer should reflect your marketing promise
  • remember to innovate and refresh your products on a regular basis
  • use market intelligence and customer feedback to drive your product development
  • quality and authenticity are key drivers of success
  • effective interpretation of the natural and cultural heritage is an opportunity for an area
  • having a strong culture of welcoming visitors and giving exceptional customer care is critical to success

Challenge: 18: Creating a unique and memorable experience

  • What are the new products you want to develop and enhance?
  • Are your key attractors delivering what your market wants? Are they still the key motivating factor in visitors’ decisions to choose your area? What needs to be done to enhance them?
  • What are the key new developments required to add to your area offering and support your key messages?
  • Put together a list of the key enhancements and new developments

Develop people and their skills

Every person in every area of the tourism industry needs to understand their role in delivering an excellent tourism product and overall visitor experience.  

The importance of motivated, well skilled people cannot be stressed enough as it will only take one or two individuals to hinder success. 

Challenge 19: Analysing skills in your area

As a group, identify how you would like to be recognised for excellence in welcome and hospitality. What will it take to deliver excellence? Highlight the key areas for skills development:

  • Are there problems recruiting quality staff in certain sectors?
  • Is there a problem within the destination with consistency of service delivery?
  • Is there adequate product knowledge within the area to support cross-selling?
  • Are there opportunities for sharing staff resources within the destination e.g. at peak times/out of season?

Challenge 20: Training and development 

Once you have identified skills gaps, you can put a training and development plan into action, including timing, responsibilities, and agencies or in-house individuals that can deliver the training.

When putting this together consider the following.

  • Look at the workforce across the whole area
  • Work in partnership with your group and community to identify and deliver training needs
  • Consider the benefits of offering the community as a whole the opportunity to learn about tourism and the important role everyone can play in creating a successful destination
  • Consider training that not only teaches skills, but promotes confidence through improving knowledge about the destination  
  • Joining professional bodies, attending conferences and sharing your experiences with others are also valuable ways of developing skills and knowledge

Marketing and PR 

The best form of marketing is arguably in improving the visitor experience so that visitors want to return and also recommend what you offer to others. Don’t forget that marketing activity is expensive and there are often cheaper ways to reach your target markets. 

One of these ways would be to fit in with VisitScotland’s marketing activity by knowing what is unique and special about your area. 

Whichever marketing route suits your aspirations and budget, you will need to have a clear plan to build awareness, create demand and establish positive relationships with existing and target markets.

The aim of your marketing plan is to match your tourism products to the markets that offer the best opportunities for your area. It should describe the ways in which you are going to communicate to your customers and build loyalty at the same time.  

Challenge 21: Attracting the attention you deserve

  • Develop engaging stories to include in your marketing materials
  • Identify ambassadors and local celebrities to bring the stories to life – it will help get media attention
  • Use genuine visitor feedback and recommendations within your marketing messages
  • Reflect the distinctiveness of your area by using vibrant images
  • Use social media as a tool to gather and distribute feedback, images, experiences and information about events

Challenge 22: Develop your marketing and communications plan

Now you need to decide how you will work collectively to communicate with visitors.

Consider any marketing activity that has taken place in the past in your area and discuss:

1: What activity brought the greatest returns in terms of:

  • increased visitor numbers?
  • increased spend?
  • increased profile for the destination?
  • increased customer retention, loyalty or satisfaction?

2: What activity brought the least return and why? 

Potential funding and advisory support

There are many sources of support available to area groups and destination type organisations and finding the right source of help will depend on a variety of factors including location, the nature of the project or activity the group wishes to undertake and whether the group has any funds to contribute itself.

Support can be grouped under a number of headings.

  • Private sector funding  
  • Public Sector funding
  • Grants from trusts, foundations and charities
  • Advice and other support

This section is not set up to be a definitive list of all the available funding/advisory support available but it’s a good indicative guide to check out. It is also worth contacting your respective local authority. 

Many of these have specialist funding advisors who can provide more detailed information on potential assistance from a wide variety of sources including Council, European and National Lottery funds.

Next step: how will you know if you're succeeding?