The Big Weekend
One of Go To Places’ most successful campaigns is its Big Weekend model, which targets the lucrative visiting friends and relatives market. It is a highly affordable ‘out-of-the-box’ campaign that brings ROI at low cost and low risk and can be adapted to any destination.
The idea for The Big Weekend started in Kent and came from a desire to make preparations for its welcome in the run up to The Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012. Our research told us that over half of those visiting Kent were stimulated by visiting friends and family, but we also discovered that their local hosts were surprisingly ill-informed about what was on their own doorstep, so when visitors came they tended to go to tried and tested places – the same places – rather than risk trying somewhere new.
We needed to turn residents into better informed advocates – and so the Kent Big Weekend was born. The county now welcomes over 65m visitors each year, contributing nearly £4bn to the local economy and this has been growing steadily year on year. A key contributing factor to this growth has been the engagement of the friends and family market.
Key objectives of the Big Weekend are to:
• Encourage residents to discover their own county and share a sense of pride
• Promote experiences and attractions
• Create ambassadors of local residents and encourage word of mouth recommendations
• Kick start the tourism season and give tourism businesses the opportunity to reach new audiences
The campaign encourages local attractions to donate numerous free tickets to be used over one weekend in the spring (usually during English Tourism Week), with local residents bidding for the tickets in an online ballot.
Kent launched its Big Weekend in 2006 followed by Hertfordshire in 2016 and Essex in 2017. Jersey and Norwich will be running the campaign in 2020. Find out more about the benefits that the campaign has brought to Kent.
Visit Essex says.........
"The Big Weekend has helped raise awareness of Visit Essex as a leading destination management organisation within the county, adding another marketing dimension to our activities and offering us a way to connect directly with our businesses, as well as the general public." Carol Jolly, Marketing & PR Manager