Antonia Stratford
5th October 2021

Earlier this week, Professor Xavier Font from the University of Surrey delivered a fantastic session on ‘Designing and marketing low season tourism experiences.’

You can watch the recording of the webinar here or if you are pushed for time, read our short summary and top tips…..

Historically, many tourism and hospitality businesses in the UK rely on generating the majority of their revenue during the warmer spring and summer months which can cause difficulties with managing costs; business resilience; staff recruitment and the management and dispersal of visitors – all of which have been exacerbated during the pandemic.

In Kent, we are halfway through the EU funded Experience programme which is aimed at helping small businesses to develop and market new experiences for the late autumn and winter months. The programme has been a huge success so far and we support many of the suggestions and tips recommended by Professor Font as follows:

  • DMOs and businesses need to show a range of photography on marketing channels that show visitors enjoying experiences both in the winter and summer months
  • Consumers need to overcome the fear of trying things in the winter. Tap into people’s yearning for a meaningful experience.
  • High and low season customers are different. Low season visitors tend to be more local; stay for a shorter period of time and book late (or just turn up).  They are likely to be repeat visitors and seek variety.  To be aware that organisations that demonstrate disability confidence achieve over 25% higher revenue.
  • Think about your seasonal assets and use the uniqueness of each season e.g. specific migratory birds or animals or flowers that cannot be found in summer. Aesthetics e.g. colour and light; music odours and tastes all enhance a visitor’s engagement.
  • Demonstrate an emotional link to your customers so that braving the rain or the tumultuous sea becomes an adventure and the outdoor coolness reinforces the sensation of cosiness indoors. When it is wet, cold and dark outside – compensate with warm and light inside.
  • Offer places that are usually off limit during crowded summer seasons
  • Reduce the likelihood of winter conditions negatively impacting your business. Identify ways to upgrade your offering such as weatherproofing current services, providing suitable weatherproof equipment, investing in infrastructure or identify activities that are not weather dependent.
  • Reduce prices in the ‘low season’ to attract demand and reduce operating costs to reduce losses
  • Create an annual pass to manage demand or create an autumn to spring membership; a midweek membership or a 9am – 3pm membership.
  • Identify all the customer needs (transport, activities, food and drink, entertainment, interpretation, accommodation, souvenirs) and package as appropriate but only those elements that add value to your customer. Create new experiences by combining complementary products and services and share the marketing effort and risk.
  • Some key examples of low season experiences identified by Professor Font and his team include: The Stirrups Hotel in Bracknell who offer four luxury pods as a sheltered outdoor dining experience that provides a night under the stars no matter the weather; The Forest of Bowland AONB run a Dark Skies Festival week in February half term that encourages visitors to stay in the Dark Sky Friendly accommodation; and RHS Wisley have upgraded their infrastructure, gardening programme, events, visitor flows and marketing to provide an optimal winter experience.

Coming soon…….Go To Places will be offering a package of support to help visitor economy businesses in destinations to create new off season products and take them to market. More information will be available soon but in the meantime, if you are a destination or tourism business that needs our expertise with destination management, marketing, research or funding – please get in touch ➡️