Last week saw Bournemouth University’s School of Tourism host two launch nights for the ESRC funded Digital Destinations programme.
The aim of the project is to capture change in the adoption and use of digital technologies and to develop a strong, competitive local tourism economy. Through increased understanding and use of emerging digital technologies, tourism businesses will be in a position to increase their marketing and management effectiveness, and develop new products and services that will provide an enhanced experience for visitors to their destinations.
The 12-month project has a number of deliverables that will present exciting opportunities for the businesses involved:
- Sixty businesses recruited and divided into 6 groups of 10 from across the Dorset & New Forest region;
- Each group participates in a series of knowledge exchange activities including strategic online marketing workshops, webinars on best practice case studies in e-marketing, expert speaker presentations and exclusive access to resources and materials to enable them to stay ahead of the digital economy;
- Participating businesses will work toward creating an online marketing strategy;
- Each individual business will be evaluated and benchmarked against best online marketing practice and then monitored throughout the 12 months of the project. Each participant business receives an analysis of its online marketing performance and the goal is to demonstrate a significant increase in online customer engagement through the lifetime of the project;
- The creation of online marketing business communities allowing exchange of knowledge between practitioners and leading experts and academics and also with other practitioners – the co-creation of knowledge in a practical setting;
- A listing on the Digital Hub website where each participant will also be able to download research articles, best practice papers, video links, etc.;
- A final year online marketing student from the School of Tourism allocated to each business to work on an online marketing project;
The launch nights were held at the Executive Business Centre on the Lansdowne campus. Businesses were invited to the launch night to hear more about the project before deciding if they want to fully commit to the year-long project.
Guests were given the opportunity to network with each other, whilst enjoying canapés and some live classical music, before the presentation began.
Dr Philip Alford gave the potential businesses a brief presentation on what to expect from being part of the Digital Destinations project before the businesses got the chance to ask questions about the project. There were plenty of questions indicating a highly engaged audience.