Year in Review: Mike Timson – Building on what’s gone before

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Sitting down to write this, I realise how far Visit Lincoln has come and how many people have helped make it into the business that we recognise today – if you are one of these people, thank you.

As the new CEO (three months and counting) my responsibility is to shape Visit Lincoln’s future and keep building on what’s gone before. I want to build on the work done by Emma Tatlow who established Visit Lincoln with Lincoln BIG and the Lincolnshire Chamber of Commerce, and by Lydia Rusling who moved it into a Community Interest Company (CIC) last year.

Visit Lincoln is a thriving brand for the city’s tourism economy and must compete with other destinations across the world for visitors – it’s a really competitive market out there. But every year the value of tourism grows. Last year we saw it reach £219 million – a 30% rise in the last five years. Tourism now employs 2,500 people in Lincoln and supports a far-reaching supply chain across the county.

Marketing is a core part of our activity. This year we have seen unique visits to the website reach 1 million and our storytelling on social media gets new followers and interactions every day from across the world. Marketing events and targeted campaigns such as RAF Lincolnshire in 2018 and The Knights Trail in 2017 are generating real results, and next year is looking good with the opening of Cathedral Connected, The Imps Trail, Mayflower400 and much more.

Last year Visit Lincoln was involved in delivering five Discover England Funded projects which brought £5 million of product development into the Lincolnshire tourism industry. This work resulted in new cycling holiday packages with Welcome to Yorkshire; AR technology being introduced to Lincoln Cathedral for tech-savvy millennials and US themed tours for Mayflower400. These are just a few examples, but the DEF projects have allowed Visit Lincoln to not only promote the county to visitors but also improve the experience they have once here.

Looking ahead, I’ve been appointed to make sure Visit Lincoln’s future is financially secure so we can deliver a three-year international marketing campaign showcasing the city and county as a great place to visit, live, work and invest in.

Next year we’re going to be investing in new technology which will not only enhance our current marketing but will also bring a new digital welcome and experience that Lincoln is currently lacking, but needs.

Infrastructure improvements such as the Western Growth Corridor will help people move more easily around the city and county, and accessibility is only going to get better thanks to LNER’s east coast line and East Midlands Railway’s better cross country services.

But a business can only be as good as it people, and I’ve been incredibly lucky to join an exceptionally talented team who live and breathe ‘Lincoln’ in everything they do.

Joel Murray and Meg Johnson deliver all our digital activities, and even though we’re saying goodbye to Joel in February next year we are very much looking forward to welcoming two new faces into the team who will take Visit Lincoln’s work to the next level.

Helping me shape and deliver the ambition place marketing strategy is Marketing and PR Director Charlotte Goy, and overseeing everything making sure Visit Lincoln keeps delivering is our Board of Directors.

The final and most important group of people are our business partners, all 260 of them. Whilst we sell Lincoln to new and returning customers, they are the ones hosting and welcoming the guests when they arrive. There is a true partnership between Visit Lincoln and our partners and I am very much looking forward to working with them all next year.