Understanding Culturally Active Visitors and how to engage them
2015 promised to represent a unique opportunity for the city of Lincoln to raise its profile as a Cultural Destination. This year marks the 800th Anniversary of Magna Carta. Only four original copies of Magna Carta remain from when it was sealed by King John in 1215. Lincoln is the only place in the world where you can find an original copy of Magna Carta together with the Charter of the Forest issued in 1217. The two charters are both housed in a new purpose-built vault in Lincoln Castle, which itself has just undergone a £22m redevelopment to boost its appeal as a visitor attraction.
Visit Lincoln is the official destination management organisation for Lincoln and the surrounding area. A partnership of private, public and third sector organisations. Its aim is to raise awareness of Lincoln as a great place to visit, study, meet and invest, through a coordinated marketing effort around the themes of Tourism, Talent and Trade. In partnership with Lincoln BIG, the local business improvement district, a three year Cultural Destinations project funded by Arts Council England was secured in order to develop the cultural offer of the city.
Visit Lincoln wanted to ensure that the 800th Anniversary of Magna Carta in 2015 was used as a catalyst to build a platform for future growth in culturally influenced tourism, rather than being seen as an end in itself. Habit5 were commissioned to look beyond 2015 to identify new opportunities to enhance Lincoln’s appeal as a Cultural Destination.
To provide recommendations on how to develop the cultural programme that will generate interest in visitors from beyond Lincolnshire and the East Midlands.
In answer to the project aim and objectives, Habit5 recommended implementing the workstreams detailed in the diagram below:
The approach adopted was designed to deliver a clear strategic direction, informed by statistically robust evidence within tight cost constraints.
The Desk Research that we undertook ensured that Visit Lincoln could both learn from relevant published data that focused upon cultural tourism in the UK and avoid unconsciously duplicating, in their own original primary research, questions adequately explored in past studies.
The insights from this initial workstream supported a clear focus upon what Habit5 termed ‘Culturally Active Visitors’ – the individuals who sit at the sweet spot where tourism, the cultural offer of a city or region and the audience for events, performances and exhibitions in the location, converge and overlap.
Habit5 proposed that both current and potential Culturally Active Visitors to Lincoln could be identified through the progressive sequence of filtering questions and dimensions represented in the diagram below.
Based upon an appreciation of the profile of Culturally Active Visitors in the UK and an emerging sense of how Lincoln was performing with this segment drawing upon the existing secondary data, Habit5 devised and facilitated a Proposition Builder workshop attended by representatives of Lincoln’s cultural and tourism sectors. The workshop was tasked with generating ideas for new cultural propositions that offered the potential for Lincoln to secure more successful engagement with Culturally Active Visitors. The Proposition Builder model illustrated in the diagram below was used as a framework for idea generation in plenary session and syndicate groups.
Eight strong propositions emerged from the workshop and consultative work undertaken by Habit5 immediately following the session. An expert systems screening was then applied to shortlist six proposition ideas for inclusion within the primary research. A headline, descriptive paragraph and collage image was originated by Habit5 to use as stimulus for each candidate proposition.
Given the client requirement to profile and segment current and potential Culturally Active Visitors to Lincoln and comparatively evaluate the shortlisted propositions as a basis to grow and develop engagement with this audience, Habit5 recommended conducting an online quantitative survey. Habit5 worked in conjunction with Research Now as a credible Access Panel provider for the fieldwork.
Each proposition (as headline, description & collage image) was presented to 500 respondents. Each proposition was presented 50 times, in a set of three, against each of the other propositions to minimise comparative imbalance. The order presented was randomised to minimise ‘order effect’.
Only a rating of 6 or 7 (a lot more likely to visit) on a Likert 7-point scale was treated as indicating strong interest in a proposition from a participant.
The Return On Research (ROR)
1,000 survey completes by UK Adults aged 18+ were achieved as targeted from the fieldwork, which was conducted between 8th-10th December 2014.
The detailed results of the survey obviously remain confidential to the client but we can say that from the survey Visit Lincoln and its partners now understand:-
Habit5 synthesised and interpreted the outputs from the Desk Research, Proposition Builder Workshop and Online Quantitative Survey, to provide clear actionable recommendations on:-
“Visit Lincoln commissioned David and Habit5 to conduct research into Lincoln’s cultural offer and opportunities to use this to strengthen and grow the visitor economy.
I found David a pleasure to work with, an experienced and insightful professional who ensured that the project stuck to timescales and budgets. David was great at presenting to partners and clients.
And the research project has been and will continue to be used for the purposes that were intended.”
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