Marketing Cheltenham, the destination partnership launched by Cheltenham Borough Council and partners to grow the town’s visitor economy, has announced a successful first year.
It’s been twelve months since the approval of the five year strategy to grow Cheltenham’s Visitor Economy and in that time the team has achieved some significant results.
Councillor Steve Jordan, Leader of Cheltenham Borough Council says, “Marketing Cheltenham is well on track to reach its target of increasing the visitor economy by 5% by the end of 2019. The organisation will carry on gaining momentum over the coming years to ensure that the town continues to thrive and benefit from continued growth. “
One of the key achievements in the start-up period has been the redevelopment of the visitcheltenham.com website that showcases what to do, where to stay and how to get around the town. It provides the portal from which visitors are directed to find more information or to book accommodation. For example May 2018 saw a record number of visitors to the new site with a 15.53% uplift compared with the previous year, and at the same time we gained a 22% increase in social media followers with a reach of more than 166,500 people during May alone.
In partnership with Cotswold Tourism, the organisation has also initiated a membership scheme that co-ordinates and encourages like-minded businesses to come together with the same aim – to get more visitors to the town, entice them to stay longer and to support the local tourism, hospitality and leisure economy. Current members include Holst Birthplace Museum, Cheltenham Festivals, Cheltenham Racecourse, The Everyman, Malmaison, The Queen’s Hotel and many more.
Kelly Ballard, manager at Marketing Cheltenham said “We’re currently working on Cheltenham’s food initiative and will be championing the town as THE place to come for ‘Foodies’ over the coming months. At the same time, we’re looking at ways to promote the fantastic shopping offer, with the hundreds of independent and boutique retailers, sitting alongside High Street favourites. Plus of course with John Lewis coming to the town in October, Urban Outfitters in November and news that House of Fraser will remain, this proposition is only set to get stronger. We are hoping that this Christmas 2018 will see the town positioned as one of the top five shopping destinations in the South West.”
Kevan Blackadder, Director Cheltenham Business Improvement District (BID) “One of the key priorities for the Cheltenham Business Improvement District (BID) when it was set up two years ago was for the town to improve the way it is marketed and promoted. The launch of Marketing Cheltenham has helped this to become a reality more quickly than would otherwise have been possible. We look forward to continuing to work with them to ensure that people from far and wide understand everything that Cheltenham has to offer.”
Laura Kinnear, Curator of The Holst Birthplace Museum says: “We are very impressed with the new Visit Cheltenham website, with its greater emphasis on the cultural attractions of the town. The images are great too, as are the content-rich blogs and links to social media.”
Other developments from Marketing Cheltenham include the promotion of hashtag #OurChelt on social media for locals to share what they love about the town to potential visitors, a new library of images taken by local talented photographer Mikal Ludlow helping to present the town as a vibrant, contemporary location; the commissioning of video using local award-winning film company Squashed Robot and press coverage of the town in glossy magazines.
Steven Wilmer, General Manager of Malmaison says “We have been involved in a number of initiatives with Marketing Cheltenham including hosting a Japanese Tour Operator delegation, working with other large hotels to look at conference & event opportunities and other press engagements. We can see the difference that the organisation is making and are pleased to be working alongside the team to put Cheltenham back on the map.”
New initiatives that Marketing Cheltenham has in the pipeline include a new solution to visitor information and signage, helping people get around more easily; regency bike tours that will start at the railway station and explore the historic buildings in the town and the development of a Cheltenham town app that will highlight all of the experiences available to visitors including information on Brian Jones, Public Art and Hidden Histories of Cheltenham working closely with Cheltenham BID and The Cheltenham Trust.