To say that Covid-19 has hit the global tourism industry hard is a huge understatement! Experts are forecasting that global tourist arrivals will decline by at least 40% in 2020, while the UN World Tourism Organisation is predicting that up to 75 million tourism jobs will be lost globally. This blow will devastate the industry, and take years to recover from.
The town of Kinsale, which has been hugely reliant on tourism revenue for decades has been hit especially hard. Numerous small businesses are predicting that they may simply not survive and hundreds of job losses are predicted. Kinsale hotels and guest houses have now seen ALL international tourists cancel their trips for the remainder of 2020 year, with the immediate and longer term repercussions already being strongly felt.
However, despite the numerous challenges over the last number of months and the uncertainty looking forward, Kinsale has not only remained resilient, but has grown more united and determined, moving quickly to turn our attention to recovery. This is a direct result of the proactive and positive approach of the Kinsale Chamber of Tourism and Business and it’s members working collaboratively and creatively to help them rebuild their businesses post Covid-19.
Kinsale has over the years constantly reinvented itself by launching exciting new events during the challenging shoulder seasons, introducing unique experiences to actively engage with new markets, by embracing new trends based on ongoing research. Kinsale has also worked to maximise the potential of third party marketing initiatives like ‘Taste the Island’ and continues to leverage it’s prime position as the start point of the ‘Wild Atlantic Way’.
When the tourism industry emerges from this crisis, there is no doubt that it will look very different. As the Kinsale Chamber of Tourism and Business, our role is to support local businesses as well as to promote the town. With this in mind, we are currently designing a comprehensive marketing campaign to actively target domestic visitors to Kinsale once it is safe for people to travel again.
As the Kinsale Chamber of Tourism and Business, not only is our vision clear, but it is also concise and comprehensive. Initial action plans are already being put in place, as we are determined to tackle this current and unique set of challenges head on, regardless of external supports. That said, the scale and speed of the promotional options will be directly impacted by the level of external financial support and the successful buy-in for the internal crowd funding initiative.
Our goal is to implement a carefully planned ‘Kinsale Comeback Campaign’, which will be phased in over the coming months in line with the government recommendations around travel restrictions and social distancing, while also being mindful of the current need to prioritise community wellbeing and funding for local Volunteer Groups and initiatives. The approach will need to be flexible to allow for the evolving guidelines, so it is crucial that an element of scenario planning is built in.
The overall aim of the campaign will be to position Kinsale as one of the go to domestic holiday options for key markets over the next 12 to 24 months.
As part of fulfilling this overall aim, we plan to:
- Promote Kinsale in a timely and targeted fashion that tells the story of Kinsale in an enticing and exciting way • Ensure that Kinsale becomes and remains a front of mind day trip destination and then a short break option once restrictions around travel and social distancing ease • Ensure that our many unique and independently owned businesses (both directly and indirectly linked to tourism) survive and thrive going forward • Sustain our great community spirit through underpinning employment created by maintain our profitable position as a tourism hub
Kinsale has continued its track record of success and delivery in recent years by winning numerous awards, including Ireland’s No 1 Foodie Town and Ireland’s Most Enterprising Medium Sized Town on two occasions. As a Chamber, we have introduced a wide selection of new events, exciting festivals and unique promotional initiatives to boost shoulder season visitor numbers and keep Kinsale in the media spot light throughout the calendar year. This demonstrates our ability to come together with a single vision for the benefit of all stakeholders, as well as showing an overall strategic approach towards increasing visitor dwell time and tourist spend.
With our core assets of a rich historical tapestry, an established tourism infrastructure, a strong culture of sustainability and world class education facilities, all the building blocks are in place for long term tourism success. Combine that with a demonstrated ethos of working together, a penchant for creative flare brought by an eclectic mix of out of the box thinkers and an unwavering community spirit, Kinsale is in a prime position to reinvent itself once again and come back all the more successful after these unprecedented times.
Now is the perfect opportunity to harness the energy, creativity and belief that have earned us our reputation as a tourism success story over the years, into a strategic targeted campaign that will see Kinsale navigate its way back to the forefront of the tourism recovery, that this crisis will inevitably ignite throughout the Island of Ireland.
Great people with strong ambition and clear vision put Kinsale on the map back in the 1970s. These pioneers took courageous steps to establish Kinsale as The Gourmet Capital of Ireland and a tourism mecca, before tourism had been widely embraced in Ireland. Needless to say, Kinsale has reaped the benefits of this foresight and courage for many years. We believe now is the time to be courageous once more and to have renewed foresight to lead from the front in terms of Irish tourism recovery.
Despite all of the aforementioned building blocks being in place, as well as the widely expressed commitment locally to embrace this new campaign as a whole, these current challenges are unprecedented and as such, any planning should be approached with care. Not to be overly cautious, but to be prudent, targeted and strategic at all times. Also to retain a clear focus on results, whether they be financial or non financial (goodwill, reputation building, brand awareness, re-positioning, community impact).
The core elements of the strategy will be informed by recent market research (by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), Tourism Ireland and Failte Ireland), which have defined the market segments most likely to travel in the immediate timeframe once Covid-19 travel restrictions are lifted. The success factors of previous initiatives will also be considered, as we build on previous learnings.
At all times we will aim to dovetail with the consumer brand messaging that Failte Ireland has recently released in response to Covid-19 (To inspire, To entertain, To escape) and the pillars of the international success story that is the Wild Atlantic Way. Failte Ireland and Tourism Ireland had already started to invest heavily in domestic and International marketing campaigns, so it is vitally important that we sit naturally and strategically within the overall messaging.
With this in mind, the core elements of the ‘Kinsale Comeback Campaign’ are:
- To rebrand Kinsale in terms of a logo and brand story (completed)
- To redesign our existing website Kinsale.ie, using mobile first technology and target search engine optimisation as well as a revamped look (current site has over 700,000 hits per annum, redesign work is currently underway)
- To build a marketing fund to sustain the ongoing expenditure of the planned campaign, with 100% of the funds going into the ‘Kinsale Comeback Campaign’
- To develop and implement a Media (online and offline) promotional plan for the ‘Kinsale Comeback Campaign’, aimed initially at domestic day trippers, followed by the domestic staycation market and then as appropriate the International market
- To create a new promotional video for Kinsale that captures our unique selling points in a fun, colourful, sustainable, happy and imaginative way
- To establish a #keepitinkinsale Campaign, focusing on supporting local business and in particular retail – This will include a social media and video campaign featuring local retailers, and their unique offerings and stories
The Action Plan:
While full details of the marketing plan are still being researched and collated (which will be targeted at each identified specific market that opens up as the phased reopening of businesses progresses), the following core elements of our strategic plan have already been agreed:
To deliver the objectives of the ‘Kinsale Comeback Campaign’, Kinsale
Chamber of Tourism and Business seek to put together a war chest €100,000 2. The Chamber will kick start the war chest with €10,000 of their own funds, accumulated last year as a result of winning the National Enterprise Towns Awards. Utilizing this prize money, which Kinsale as a town won for it’s proven innovation and enterprise seems a natural re-investment of funds, as these are the core qualities needed to address the current challenges. 3. Additionally, the Chamber is asking local businesses and stakeholders to play an active and supportive role in the initiative by allocating a percentage of their planned marketing spend for the year. The justification being that the businesses invest in Kinsale as a whole entity first, with the confidence that as a result, each individual business will profit directly. The rising tide theory that Kinsale is built on. 4. A crowd funding initiative will also be launched, enabling businesses and individuals to help to build the war chest, with contributions of whatever that business or individual wants to contribute, whether its €10, €100, €1,000 or €10,000. Not only will this boost available funds, but it will evoke a sense of buy in from stakeholders, as they feel a sense of ownership and commitment. The exact plans and itemised spend reports will be communicated to all contributors throughout project. 5. External financial support will also be sought 6. Once we have established our war chest fund level, a detailed marketing plan will be developed, including promotional opportunities across a selection of media platforms depending on the target market. Timed milestones will be agreed to achieve our overall objective of making Kinsale the No 1 choice in Ireland for Domestic Tourism in 2020/ 2021.
The Target Markets:
Recent Failte Ireland Research has shown that despite the uncertainty around 1 international travel, one third of people still hope for an International trip in the next 6 months, giving us hope that our International visitors will return towards the end of this year and into 2021.
As the restrictions are eased on a phased basis, the main focus of this ‘Kinsale Comeback Campaign’ is going to be on the home market, targeting each market as it is safe to do so and when appropriate. Research suggests that the potential for domestic visitors is high in 2020, given the need for people to “get out and about” post lockdown.
Also with the sharper focus that has been placed on physical and mental health by the media and through social sharing during the lockdown, the intention to include aspirational travel, create new memories and re-establish personal relationships are high on the list of post Covid-19 priorities.
Feedback has also revealed a strong sense of information overload related to Covid-19, with persistent negative statistics and the reinforced message of fear and uncertainty across news and social media platforms. It is important therefore to communicate a sense of optimism and positivity throughout our messaging (while maintaining a tactful and respectful approach).
Kinsale plans to embrace the findings of the research by not only targeting the markets most likely to travel (and spend) but also the sentiments behind them in terms of reasons to travel.
The core findings have informed our decision to focus on the following markets/ trends:
- Family & Friends desperate to reconnect
As travel restrictions are eased, extended families will be driven to reconnect with each other, travelling and staying within Ireland for short trips as extended family groups. These will most likely start with fun days out to celebrate missed birthdays, special occasions and to allow physical contact (for example grand children being once more able to hug grandparents). Groups will want to gather in restaurants, bars and private small function rooms for meals, entertainment and light fun. They will also want to re-engage with each other by arranging fun outdoor activities like beach walks, foot golf, kayaking, horse riding etc. We will therefore need to communicate the message that there are so many fun days out to choose from in Kinsale and emphasise the cross generational options.
COVID 19: Consumer Sentiment Behaviour, Failte Ireland, April 30, 2020
In time, short overnight trips for groups of family and friends will emerge, the organisers perhaps choosing a lovely location (like Kinsale!) where the needs for natural peaceful landscapes, varied activities and opportunities to explore are being met. It is vital that we remind potential visitors of our variety and quality of accommodation, as well as a huge array of dining and activity options.
Facebook, Instagram and Google SEO tactics are crucial to engage with both groups, to maintain front of mind awareness as people are pre planning for when restrictions allow travel.
- Millennials determined to see the world once more
Millennials, more so than other generations, view travel a priority. In fact, they see it as a right rather than a privilege. Making up 31.5% of the world’s population , 2 Millennials currently represents the largest travel target market with an annual spend of $200 Billion. The average millennial (aged 21 to 37) plans on taking roughly five trips each year, three of which are expected to be international.
This market will have an increased appetite for travel once released from the current lockdown restrictions, as their tendency is for frequent short trips to new interesting places and most importantly sharing their experience through social media channels (mainly Instagram). We plan to harness this determination to see the world once more by promoting fun, unique and quirky experiences and by promoting stunning photo opportunities around Kinsale to assist with bragging rights on Instagram!
While Millennials have proven to favour city breaks (Dublin being the 5th favourite International destination), the “cool and quirky factor” that we can offer in Kinsale as well as the very on trend foodie dynamic will attract this market.
- Cocooners wanting to spread their wings once more
Kinsale has always attracted the semi-retired market, primarily couples in their late 60’s early 70’s with high disposable income and an appreciation for the finer things in life.
Whether over 70 and being subject to the recent enforced “cocooning” or merely just feeling restricted by the recent travel guidelines, this market is primed to travel for short breaks and treat themselves again. Ordinarily, this market will have enjoyed 2 to 3 short domestic breaks per year and favour 4-star accommodation and higher end restaurants.
This market has a pre existing awareness of Kinsale, and may well be repeat visitors, so our strategic planning will include reminder messages of how great Kinsale is and what great bundled options we have available to them (for example the 3 night Gourmet Break which includes 2 Good Food Circle vouchers). Platforms will include Facebook as well as more traditional Radio and Newspaper options.
- Kinsale Hygiene Assured Q Mark
Covid-19 has changed the way we all think about personal health and wellbeing, and this will continue to be a central focus for the foreseeable future. With the need to reassure potential visitors of their for personal safety and security when visiting Kinsale, the Kinsale Chamber of Tourism and Business has been working with a Company specialising in this area. The proposed plan is to create a ‘Hygiene Assured’ Q Mark for Chamber members. Effectively a charter of requirements for members to sign up to and achieve, assuring potential visitors that their safety will not be compromised while in Kinsale.
The Algarve has recently launched a similar ‘Clean and Safe’ Q Mark which has been positively received. As research implies that going forward, travellers will seek safe destinations who are proactively enforcing health and safety standards with stakeholders, we consider this a priority for Kinsale.
- Kinsale – for Wellness Tourism
With the ongoing trend towards wellness tourism in general, as well as the heightened focus on physical and mental health that Covid-19 has evoked, Kinsale Chamber of Tourism and Business are working with one of Ireland’s leading health and wellness experts to develop Kinsale as a Wellness Tourism location.
With our abundance of stunning coastal location, wide open outdoor spaces and a general feeling of laid back welcome, Kinsale is ideally suited to attract this growing market. The wide ranging accommodation, sports facilities and outdoor physical pursuits, as well as healthy eating options, farmers markets, fresh locally sourced produce all tick important boxes for this market.
Research has shown that people are looking to have a greater sense of freedom once they are released from lock down and have a desire to explore Ireland and the amazing things to see and do on their doorstep.
Strong destination imagery and video will play a large part in communicating this message, and to that end a new promotional video is part of the strategic plan.
- Kinsale – A Sustainable Town
Another highly important initiative ongoing in Kinsale over recent years, has been the ongoing work to transform Kinsale into a Sustainable town.
Kinsale has proven itself to be a connected community, making it more resilient to external challenges such as pandemics and climate change. There is a strong sense of community, with a core focus being on the people and their health and wellbeing, as well as a united vision towards a more sustainable future.
Kinsale has a thriving local economy that supports local producers and small businesses and has shown how agile and innovative they can collectively respond to challenges. It’s not just about financial sustainability, we are building a happy society, a healthy town and a flourishing economy.
Plastic Free Kinsale, a community initiative created to reduce the amount of single use plastic, thereby reducing plastic litter and pollution has proven hugely successful. Recycling rates have increased and our coastal areas are cleaner. This is now part of our story and will remain a priority.
This sense of unity, purpose and pride in terms of our sustainability and environmental impact is very important to the local community and also highly reassuring to visitors to Kinsale, that we are a caring community who puts sustainability at the core of everything we do (especially during challenging times).
Kinsale has proven itself be a resilient and successful tourism destination over the years, not only due to the quality of the underlying product and natural beauty, but also our vision and unity as a community. The unique mix of people and businesses in Kinsale have consistently delivered memorable and unique visitor experiences and we are confident in our ability to reimagine our future once again. Working together for the greater good of Kinsale is in the DNA of the town.
Our current ‘Back Stronger’ #inthistogether campaign has been very well received, with our goal being to boost positivity early, demonstrating a proactive approach both locally and further a field. The clear message being that Kinsale will not simply lie down, but will fight back stronger, maintaining a positive can do outlook in people’s minds about the future of Kinsale.
Our track record of delivery along with our prime positioning at the start of the Wild Atlantic Way and the gateway to West Cork, puts Kinsale in prime position to be at the forefront of Irelands Tourism recovery. Our goal is to take the lead in this recovery, in terms of our creative thinking, common purpose, innovation, ambition and delivery of a phased comprehensive action plan as the appropriate time.
Kinsale has weathered many storms, overcome many battles and obstacles over the years, but we are now facing one of our biggest challenges yet. Never before has a cohesive carefully thought out and well executed plan been more important, in a time of global uncertainty. Kinsale has a world class tourism product with great people and has built its reputation on the ethos of “A rising tide lifts all boats”. As the tide begins to come back in, we need to be ready and have everyone on board to navigate our way through what will be uncharted waters for some time. We believe we can come back stronger with the execution of the plan outlined in a phased manner, but need the support of our stakeholders, local businesses and the local community to achieve our objectives effectively.