Sell Britain This Fall!
By Paull Tickner
June 25, 2012 11:45 PM
I’ve been on a sales trip to the southern U.S. for the past three weeks mainly because I wanted to see for myself the huge impact that’s been created by the coverage given to the spectacular Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. While I was there USA Today had the Beatles as a lead story -- for the third time this year.
With coverage of the Olympic Games also now kicking in, if you’re not already doing so, now is the time for you to fully capitalize on this huge wave of free publicity and use it to generate some valuable off-season business to Britain. To help you to turn this to your advantage, here are a few products you might like to consider:
If shopping-based Girls Getaways are on your agenda, use the big midweek International Antiques and Collectors Fairs that take place at Ardingly and Newbury in October (January to March 2013 dates will soon be confirmed). Then send your clients to London for the markets at Bermondsey (Friday), Camden Passage and Portobello Road (Saturday) and Spitalfields and Petticoat Lane (Sunday).
If you can access the Manchester gateway into the north of England you can use the shopping theme for some shop ‘n’ ship bargain hunting in Stoke on Trent. There your clients will find legendary names like Wedgwood, Spode and Royal Doulton. Shopping also is great fun among the medieval two-tier galleries in the ancient Roman city of Chester, and from mid-November, Chatsworth, the great Palace of the Peak District and the home of the Duke of Devonshire decorates for Christmas.
A number of our grand stately homes “dress” for the festive season and with a bit of careful planning you can put together a Kent and London tour that features Hever Castle, Leeds Castle, the annual winter Dickens Festival and Sunday Choral Eucharist in Canterbury Cathedral. In the Cotswolds, you can bring together the treasure filled Waddesdon Manor and Blenheim Palace and add the Christmas Markets in Tetbury, Cirencester and Bath, where the market is staged in the square opposite the famous Roman Baths.
For those of you with jazz-loving clients, the annual 10-day London Jazz Festival begins in November. It’s become Britain’s largest pan-city music event and showcases a heady mix of talent from around the world. The dates don’t conflict with Thanksgiving.
Still in London, take this off season opportunity to be more creative with the planning of a theatre tour. Wall-to-wall West End musicals are fine, but think about adding a tour of the Theatre Collection at the V&A (Victoria & Albert Museum), backstage tours of the Royal National Theatre and the nearby Globe Theatre. Add a walking tour and discover what else went on here in Shakespeare’s time when it was London’s Red Light district. Include a day trip by train to Stratford and catch a matinee at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre’s splendid new home. These ideas will also work as a Spring Break proposal for your teacher contacts.
London is a great place for families at any time of the year, but with everything in Christmas mode it becomes a very special place in December. Talk to your family clients about a trip and encourage them to bring their skates so they can use the ice rinks that can be found at a number of our top attractions. Add the living history experiences at Hampton Court Palace and the recreation of a Victorian/Edwardian Christmas at Linley Sambourne House and you’ll have customized something very memorable for some very valuable customers.
Back to shopping again, the Harrods Sale opens immediately after Christmas Day and it offers another hook for a six-night program that can include a New Year’s Eve gala dinner at a top four- or five-star hotel. You could also use this period as one that might appeal to your church choir groups. Having sung and performed their hearts out for the previous few weeks, offer them a few fun-filled days departing Dec. 26 for visits to cathedral cities like Salisbury, Winchester and Chichester, before enjoying their own New Year’s Eve bash in London.
Looking into early 2013, there are a couple of bright ideas for garden lovers. Thanks to the warming effects of the Gulf Stream, the river valley gardens in Cornwall explode into color way ahead of the rest of the country. If your garden contacts are too busy to travel in May, Cornwall in March or April is what you should be offering them.
Developing the floral theme further, there are 185 Orchid Societies scattered across North America. Do some homework because there may be one near you. Check also for Botanical Gardens. Either way, these potential clients may well be interested to hear more about the mid-March annual Royal Horticultural Society’s Orchid and Botanical Art Show. It takes place in London and with visits to the stunning glasshouses at Wisley and Kew, and an interesting side trip to Oxford, this could be another winning program for you to explore.
My next column will feature a number of imaginatively themed ideas for those who want to use the extensive free publicity being generated by the Diamond Jubilee, the Beatles and the Olympic Games to create and market some new Britain-bound tours for the spring and summer of 2013.
Paull Tickner, creator of Special Interest Britain and an affiliate of Greatdays Travel Group, is an expert in developing customized niche travel programs for the United Kingdom and Ireland. Email him at email@example.com.