Agents, here’s what you need to know on new initiatives and bookable experiences VisitBritain has developed for the travel trade. From new food and drink experiences, luxury travel, and itineraries revolving around hub gateways, we have the latest from ExploreGB.
Food & Drink Experiences
One of the major pillars the tourist board is focusing on this year is food and drink. VisitBritain is pushing food and drink experiences across Britain that showcase its heritage, modern and innovative food and drink products, and experiences. “We wanted to raise awareness of how good food and drink is across the UK. We’ve gone away from the traditional fish and chips and curry and things like that,” said Suzy Faulkner, head of product development and distribution for VisitBritain at this year’s ExploreGB event. “We have a big movement on farm to fork. London has done a good job, but that’s not to say that a lot of the regional areas as well; there are a lot of Michelin star restaurants, gastro pubs and fine dining as well,” she added.
Examples of available food experiences include dinner at one of internationally recognized chef Rick Stein’s restaurants in Padstow; a tour and tasting at an award-winning vineyard in Camel Valley; catching your own mackerel before cooking it on a Plymouth boat trip; or a wine and cheese tasting in the Sharpham Estate, among many others.
“Food is not a key driver for travel choices, but it can be part of a local experience.” —Suzy Faulkner, head of product development and distribution for VisitBritain
Another sector they’re focusing on is luxury, as VisitBritain will be identifying luxury travel experiences featuring a curated collection of authentic and unique products and experiences. However, this is currently in the research phase. But, Faulkner did say that the U.S. is one of the target markets for luxury travel.
VisitBritain has identified seven “must haves” when determining an authentic luxury experience: 1. Tailored experiences. 2. Tours must be in small groups. 3. Tours must be limited to high-end activities. 4. Experiences should develop new knowledge and experience self growth for the traveler. 5. Hotels should be a minimum five-star property and offer suite accommodations. 6. Hotels should have a good concierge who will refer to guest by name—an example of personal service. 7. Knowledgeable guide must speak the same language as travelers.
As of now, London and Scotland have been identified as the most popular luxury destinations among travelers, according to Faulkner. VisitBritain is currently working on creating luxury hubs and establishing luxury itineraries that will be available for the travel trade market. There will also be learning tools available on the trade website.
The Great Rail Project
The Great Rail Project is also underway to help market the ease of rail travel throughout the UK and its monetary value and convenience for travelers. The government is working with the train industry and attractions to encourage international visitors to explore the UK using rail. To help with this initiative, the BritRail pass, a flexible pass travelers can use for travel at any time on any train, is now available for use on mobile devices—making it easier for passengers to access. There are plans to sell the BritRail pass with itineraries and hotel stays combined as a package with stops such as Birmingham, Manchester, and Bristol.
The BritRail pass itineraries include journeys such as the Scotland & Highlands Adventure, which is accessible from Edinburgh and Glasgow. Commissionable products on this itinerary for agents include the Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Yacht Britannia, Loch Ness Cruises, and the Glengoyne Distillery. Agents can also add commission on hotel stays during this journey to their final income.
The UK gateways are also one of the initiatives of focus, as key gateways including air, port, and rail will be aimed as a hub for a regional getaway. The focus is to help agents and travelers understand how easy it is to disperse travelers coming to the area throughout various hubs, and not just Heathrow.
For instance, by using Manchester, which offers direct flights from over 200 worldwide destinations including 14 U.S. cities and three in Canada, as the “Gateway to the North,” makes it an ideal starting point to tour the North of England, Scotland and Wales. Day trips can be easily booked from Manchester, such as the historic cities of Chester and York and the maritime city of Liverpool. Plus, the Lake District is only an hour-and-a-half away, or if guests travel south they can visit the World of Wedgwood.
This new product makes well-known places easy to book and access by using Manchester as a hub, by creating itineraries that showcase the city and excursions that open up the North of England as an international destination, Faulkner noted.
For more information on bookable excursions from Manchester, visit visitmanchester.com/things-to-see-and-do/gateway-to-the-north/day-trips-and-excursions.
New Trade Tools & Website
VisitBritain now has a new trade website where agents can access bookable itineraries, and get more information on the designated food and drink hubs, for example. The new site also has e-learning opportunities featuring more games and interactive experiences, plus workshops are currently being developed. Here, agents can also find “Educational Trips” as VisitBritain is now calling them, or FAMs as you know them. To access the new site, visit britagent.com.