Some good news for the domestic tourism sector: Digital activity by visitor attractions during the lockdown is being widely accessed and is likely to inspire ‘real’ visits once the coronavirus emergency measures are lifted.

Digital Engagement

From the initial indicative data from XV Insight and Dynata, around a third of people who went to visitor attractions prior to the current restrictions, have engaged with current digital activity from attractions. This suggests that attractions are reaching wide audiences who may well convert to actual visitors once the restrictions end. We are also seeing that the profile of those accessing digital content is skewed more towards younger people (particularly those aged 18 – 34), again good news for the long-term success of attractions.

The Future

The indicative data suggests that there is a general intent to visit attractions more than previously once the lockdown ends, with around a quarter of people saying they will visit more. This perhaps reflects the wider expectation that people will retain the greater interest in activities local to where they live after the restrictions are lifted. It may also be affected by the general level of concern around personal finance that may result in less expensive/overseas holidays being booked and more day trips to attractions being taken instead*.

Digital Engagement Encouraging Future Visits

What is most striking though is that the intent to visit attractions more is notably higher among those who have engaged with digital content from attractions. Over a third of these people intend to visit attractions more in future, compared to one in 5 of those who have not engaged with digital content. This early data suggests that the digital content being shared by attractions is inspiring people to want to visit these attractions in future. Further investigation of the types of digital content that have the most impact will help individual attractions to optimise the opportunity. It is likely that the ‘best’ digital activity will vary by type of attraction and the target visitor profile and interests. However, at this stage, it should start to allay fears that attractions may have had that by giving too much digital access, people may think they don’t need to visit the ‘real’ thing as this early data suggests the opposite with the most likely effect being an increased intent to visit.

The Great Leveller

So often the potential to develop and grow visitor interest is reliant on considerable financial investment, sometimes making it harder for the smaller attractions to compete with the big, group-owned attractions. But digital is also a great leveller. We are seeing equally inspiring digital activity from the smaller independently run destinations such as children’s farms, independent museums and galleries etc. as we are from the large visitor attractions including those supported by national organisations (English Heritage, The National Trust etc.). This has to be good news for the future of the whole visitor attraction sector and the local economies around each of them. Helen Roberts, XV Insight

*According to the Dynata COVID-19 survey (running in 14 countries) 47% of UK respondents are concerned about their household’s financial situation and 32% are pessimistic about their future financial situation.

What Next?

This initially pilot is based on 200 responses, representative of the population demographics and geography. We’d love to carry out a bigger research project to investigate more around which types of digital activity are providing the most, both in terms of current interest, information & enjoyment and more around the impact on future behaviour. We would also look at the impact on emotional engagement with attractions providing digital content. This data would be valuable to the industry as a whole and to the individual attractions. If you’d like to get involved in the larger research project please contact info@xvinsight.com