Successful destinations base their activities and development on good market intelligence. They know who their target markets are and what products and services they need to offer to give visitors a fantastic experience.
Challenge 1: Understanding markets and trends
Look at your area through your visitors' eyes and list which market trends and current external factors are likely to influence their behaviour and decisions.
Then as a group, discuss some of the trends you have observed in the last three years that are impacting or have impacted on your area.
- How have visitors booking patterns changed?
- What they do when they are here?
- How long do they stay for?
- Where do they stay?
- What they are asking for?
- Where they are from?
Discuss how could you use these market trends to your advantage as an area.
Challenge 2: Who are your visitors?
Download the latest UK Target Market Profiles from VisitScotland and view a more detailed insight into these profiles (PDF, 727kB).
Define your area boundaries
'Tourism destinations' are small areas in which the themes, culture and experience on offer to visitors are consistent. The geographical area covered by the destination must be made clear to visitors as they may not have the same understanding of the boundary as you do.
The boundary should be used as a tool for your planning rather than an obvious barrier to the visitor. It is also essential that everyone in the partnership agree where the boundaries lie so that the marketing of the area is consistent.
Challenge 3: Plotting your boundaries
A good way to define your boundaries from the visitors' perspective is to do it visually on a map.
You should mark:
- Where visitors go
- Where the current hot spots are
- How visitors enter your area and their movement patterns within the area
Doing this will help you to identify where the access is good, with good transport links and parking, and also where there are any gaps.
How does your area measure up?
You can analyse your area more effectively if you take a closer look at it from different angles.
Challenge 4: SWOT Analysis
A SWOT Analysis measures strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. This is a good activity for your group to do together so that everyone can agree what is currently excellent or not too good about your area and where the new opportunities might lie.
Challenge 5: Destination Scorecard
This scorecard technique is a good way to get a subjective view on how well your destination measures up in with strong attractions, efficient services, and excellent infrastructure.
What to do with the score
- 3 or more - there are some really strong aspects that can be built on
- 2.5 or less - your destination needs more work, especially if it is one of the main attractors or a core part of your service or infrastructure
Challenge 6: Where does your area fit within the Scottish product?
The destination inventory and destination fit tool are very helpful in summarising the strengths and weaknesses of your area through its products and attractors.
Compare your performance with others
Capture your current success rates so you have a base from which to measure improvements. It's important to measure the quality of your visitor experience as well as the number of visitors, the length of stay and amounts they spend.
Then you can move on to 'benchmark' your area against competitor products and services. Compare your area to 'best in class' destinations both in the UK and abroad if you want to achieve continuous improvement.
Challenge 7: How are we doing?
Using the indicators and measures tool, fill in the figures for your area using the sources supplied in the chart.
By recording these figures now, you can get a better picture of your current situation and you can monitor them throughout your Destination Development process.
Challenge 8: Learn from competitors
Keep in touch with new practices by running a comparison check against other areas every couple of years.
Identify four or five destinations to compare your area with - for business and leisure markets. What is their tourism profile and performance?
Use the destination scorecard that you used to evaluate yourself to evaluate these other areas. Note best practice and any examples you can learn from. Go to other areas and experience their offer as a visitor.
Next step: how good could your visitor experience be tomorrow?