Visit Lincoln started 2018 on a high, having been ranked first for the ‘Best Use of Social Media’ out of all 130 tourism organisations in England – an outstanding accomplishment which set the scene for the next 12 months.
The most significant change for us was the establishment of Visit Lincoln as an independent Community Interest Company, with more businesses joining as partners and a strong board of directors steering the new company into an exciting future. Most importantly we join SMEs across the county as a new limited company, which provides the team with valuable insight, knowledge and experience in setting up and running a business.
Having delivered award-winning marketing campaigns and VisitLincoln.com, we are now being supported by partners and county businesses to take the next step into place marketing using the expertise of the team to promote the city and surrounding area not just as a place to visit, but also a place to live and work, learn and invest.
As working in partnership continues to be at the heart of everything we do, I’ve picked out a selection of the best examples from this year:
We helped deliver two editions of Hello Lincoln, the ‘What’s On’ guide from Bailgate Independent. Lincoln BIG’s investment into a vibrant events programme, and working with us on the RAF Lincolnshire campaign theme, has helped us promote the city and bring in more visitors and shoppers. We’ve also worked with KM Media (Lincolnshire Life Magazine) on our flagship Visitor Guides; Lincoln City Council and Ruddocks Print & Design on the Christmas Market Souvenir Map; Lincolnshire County Council Heritage Services and Lincoln Mums on our ‘Lincoln Loves Kids’ activity; the Bailgate Guild on two ‘Uphill Lincoln’ shopping campaigns, rail operator LNER on joint press trips, and Lincoln City Football Club on a new ‘Away Day’ fan guide. Finally, by working with the Community Rail Partnership we were able to showcase the RAF Lincolncolnshire campaign at Birmingham Train Station, winning a national marketing award!
In August we received the official tourism statistics showing record growth in the city, with over four million people visiting Lincoln and a 7% increase in the value of the visitor economy, which has exceeded £203 million. This is unprecedented growth which rivals that of much bigger historic cities across the UK – something we should all be incredibly proud of.
One of the main tools we use is VisitLincoln.com, which for the first time attracted over 100,000 unique visitors in the month of August – helped by the RAF Weekend and Steampunk being highlight events for the city. The more marketing and promotion we generate, the more visitors to the website we receive, and the more people we can get coming into the city to visit, shop, explore and stay.
Working with our partners we have brought investment into the city which has supported events, street dressing, trails and marketing campaigns. The RAF Lincolnshire campaign commemorated our county’s association with the Royal Air Force’s centenary year and has reached millions of people all over the world through our website, social media, video, PR and marketing.
Looking ahead to 2019 we’re working on a theme of discovery and Victoriana, reflected in an exciting programme of events taking place throughout the year (have a look at VisitLincoln.com/2019). We’ll be hitting the ground running in the New Year with the first tourism event (Visit Expo & Lincolnshire Business Expo) taking place on the January 16 and welcoming Sally Balcombe, chief executive of Visit Britain, as the keynote speaker.
We’re supporting the new Love Lincoln Awards in February (with City X) and the Tourism Excellence Awards (with Lincolnshire Media) in March. The Visit Lincoln team will be moving to an office in Lincoln Castle and working closely with the Visitor Information Centre in 2019, and we have several exciting new projects ready to launch – so watch this space!
As I embark on my third year at Visit Lincoln, I’m particularly grateful for the support and encouragement we’ve received from our partners, along with many individuals that have assisted Visit Lincoln and the team through 2018.