Experience gifting and multiple strategies to secure revenue for Christmas, with Simon Jones, MD of Digital Visitor

In today’s Skip the Queue podcast episode I speak with Simon Jones, Managing Director of Digital Visitor – the UK’s leading strategic digital marketing agency for travel, tourism and hospitality.

With nearly three decades worth of visitor attraction experience, Simon Jones has a unique background and understanding of the issues faced by visitor attractions.

Before co-founding Digital Visitor 15 years ago, Simon managed science centres and large-scale attractions including household names such as Sea Life, IMAX Cinemas and At-Bristol (now We the Curious). Knowing what it is like working brand-side has given Simon a unique perspective of a client’s challenges, as it is likely he faced the same challenge himself.

Nowadays, Simon works as Managing Director for Digital Visitor and uses his brand experience to help deliver digital projects that drive clear, measurable results for tourism businesses across the whole of the travel industry.

“What digital does is it gives you that complete immediacy to be able to look at things, what’s working, what’s not working, change your tactic straight away. It’s completely agile and it’s totally transparent.”

What will you learn from this podcast?

  • Experience gifting
  • Focusing on niche products
  • Multiple strategies to secure revenue for Christmas

To listen to the full podcast, search Skip The Queue on iTunes, Google Podcasts and Spotify to subscribe. You can find links to every episode and more at www.rubbercheese.com/podcast.

You can also read the full transcript below.

The interview

Your host, Kelly Molson

Our guest, Simon Jones

Kelly Molson: Simon, welcome to the Skip the Queue podcast. It is really lovely to have you on today.

Simon Jones: Hi Kelly. Thank you very much for asking me on.

Kelly Molson: You are very welcome. And as ever, we start off with our icebreaker questions. What is your karaoke song?

Simon Jones: Angel’s, Robbie Williams.

Kelly Molson: It’s a classic.

Simon Jones: It is. Not when I sing it, though.

Kelly Molson: Okay. And what is your favorite place to visit in the UK?

Simon Jones: Cornwall. I absolutely love the sea. I’ve been growing up going to the beach since I was a youngster, and it’s something I’ve always enjoyed. I’ll get in the water at whatever the weather, how cold it is, rain, whatever. It’s just brilliant, and I love the waves. I can’t surf. My kids surf. But I can lie on a body board and hit some big waves. So from that point of view, I love it.

There’s a little place in north Cornwall called Treyarnon Bay, which is just around from a Constantine Bay, which is a big surf beach. And Treyarnon’s just kind of become my spiritual home. In fact, I should not tell you because it’s not very busy and I don’t want it to get really busy. But it’s just stunningly beautiful, the most beautiful sunsets that you’ll ever see. And we stay like a minutes walk from the beach and I’m in water at 8:30 in the morning and probably at 8:30 at night. And my wife will tell you that I just never get out of the sea. Yeah, I just love it.

Kelly Molson: That sounds like an absolutely incredible place. I don’t know of it, but now everyone knows of it. They’ll all be flooding there. The closest that we’ve been is Watergate Bay, which is, it’s similar. The sunsets in Watergate Bay are just out of this world. I’ve never braced the sea there though. I’ve never done, I’ve never gone in and body boarded there, but I quite fancy that.

Simon Jones: Really, honestly, there’s nothing more exhilarating and embracing. We were down this summer, and we didn’t have fantastic weather, but it doesn’t matter. The waves were absolutely out of this world and the beach was actually red flagged a few times because they were so big this year. But yeah, I would, honestly give it a go. You will not regret. It is just that, my kids now are in the water for hours every day when we go down, they’ve just grown up with it and they just love it. My 10 year old in particular surfs like a little demon and you just look at it and go, how have you done that?

Kelly Molson: I love that. Thank you for sharing. And a would you rather question for you, would you rather be a superhero and if so, which? Or the world’s best chef?

Simon Jones: That’s a good one. I think everybody loves a superhero. It would be great to be able to do that. And in terms of which one, it would probably be Superman just because to fly would be brilliant.

Kelly Molson: That’d be pretty awesome, wouldn’t it? What about the whole pants outside your trousers thing though?

Simon Jones: I’ve done that many times, so it’s kind of not new.

Kelly Molson: Okay, good. Glad that we’ve learned that about you today. All right. The last question on this section. Tell me something that’s true, that nobody else agrees with you on? What’s your unpopular opinion for us?

Simon Jones: I’ve got two, if that’s all right?

Kelly Molson: It’s very all right.

Simon Jones: The Alarm, which are my favorite band of all time, are probably the most underrated band of all time. And second one is that I don’t think it’s essential to do well in education to be successful.

Kelly Molson: Okay. Let’s talk about this because I kind of agree with you. It depends on the path, right? Not everybody learns the same way at school. And I’ve often talked about this myself because I didn’t go to university, chose to go and get a job back in the day. This was a very long time ago. It was a lot easier to get a junior designer position. And I just wanted to learn. I wanted to be hands-on. I wanted to be learning as I, working as I was learning. And it’s never really done me any harm. If I think about my career journey and what I’ve done and how I’ve learned and now where I am, I think that was the right decision for me.

Simon Jones: Yeah. I’m very similar to you, Kelly. I actually left school at 16. I didn’t get on with the school and education environment. Nothing against it, just didn’t suit me. And I went out into the working world straight away at 16. I haven’t done any professional qualifications, haven’t been to university.

It’s all about let’s say, it’s the right path for each individual. I think it’s about your attitude. It’s about what you want to do. It’s about the desire to succeed and how you get on. If I’m looking to recruit, I think it’s probably harder these days. In all fairness to youngsters. But from my point of view, education and what people have done is not the first thing I look at. It’s you read into a job application, the experience they’ve got. Or even a covering letter sometimes is more important, have they done that, absolutely to what you’re looking for. Is there enough passion and inspiration in what they’re looking for?

Yeah, from my point of view, obviously education is important. I’m not saying that. But I just think it is down to each person’s path. They need to do what they’re comfortable with and what they’re good at. And if you look back at some point in the future and go, well, maybe I should have done something different. It’s not the end of the world. You can find your right way, you just need to work hard at it.

Kelly Molson: I love this. And I think I completely agree with your unpopular opinion, whether it’s unpopular or not is to be seen. But I would love to, if you’re listening and you’re following us on social media, I’d actually really love to know how you feel about that and what your career journeys have been like from education path as well. Pop us a little tweet over, I’d really love to hear about that.

That leads us really nicely on to the things that I’d like to talk about today, Simon. Simon and I, we met recently because we both spoke at the Visitor Attractions Conference, and we were both in the Your Website is Your Brand segment. And I think one of the joint messages that we both pushed out this year is that “Your website has never been more important as it is right at this moment in time.” We’re going to talk a little bit about that in a minute, but I’d really like to understand how your career path has developed from school and to where you are now. If you can give us a bit of a potted history, that would be great?

Simon Jones: Yeah. Sure. I left, when I left school, based in Bristol and I’m from Bristol. And financial services was huge in Bristol, so I basically ended up working in financial service sector for quite a few years, working for SunLife as it was, and AXA. But nothing against it. It gave me grounding, made some great friendships there. People I’m still in touch with now but it didn’t really inspire and wasn’t anything that really thrilled me.

I wanted to move into a sales line of work, but the last thing I wanted to do was financial sales, because back in those days, it didn’t have a particularly good reputation and it’s not that most of interesting. I ended up selling housewares products of all things. I worked for a company called Brabantia, who are known for their pedal bins, bread bins, ironing tables, et cetera.

I worked for them for a couple of years and it was great, absolutely brilliant products, brilliant time, got to learn an awful lot, spent a lot of time on the road. And then I was fortunate enough randomly to end up finding a job for Merlin Entertainments, or Vardon Attractions, as they were back in those days. I went through an interview process with them and was very lucky enough to become working in the trade side. For the first few years of my working world in, or working life in Visitor Attractions, I worked in trade marketing for Merlin Entertainments. Across the Sea Life Dungeons brands, and just fell in love with the sector. Absolutely. Merlin was a brilliant education for me. Hadn’t been, really know anything about this attractions or tourism at that stage, other than the fact that I love going on holiday. I just fell in love with the way attractions are, and how they operate and how much you were just dealing with people’s fun time, leisure time. It’s really about giving people great experiences.

I was with Merlin Entertainments for probably about six, seven years. I think it was. Based down in the head office in Poole. And then I moved into museums, or science centers. I went to work for a science center called At-Bristol in the day, which is now We the Curious. And I went there as, originally from the marketing side and ended up working right across the sort of commercial areas for that. And again, it was just brilliant. Back in Bristol, my hometown. Really, really great products, great team, had fun there and dealt with the, they had three sites. There was a site center side, which getting the hands on experiences and getting kids involved with science was brilliant. We had, at that stage a nature attraction as well. And then an IMAX cinema. And IMAX films are the only way to watch films. Large format film, it’s just brilliant. Really immersive.

And then, that moved on from there, always had fancied having a go at something myself. I never quite had the nerve to do it, if you like. And then I met my now business partner, Anthony Rawlins, through mutual contacts. And he had already started a company, it’s Digital Properties back in those days, which was all about video marketing. And he was the person that realized that there was a good opportunity for video marketing in tourism, and sort of approached me. We started to work together and I took the opportunity at that stage to go, do you know what? This is the right time for me to break off and try doing my own thing.

We set Digital Visitor up, and we only work in tourism. We have dabbled in a few things across time, as I think you do. But from my point of view, why would you move outside of this sector? I’m passionate about it. I absolutely love tourism, visitor attractions, the whole side of it. Since we’ve been going, we’ve worked exclusively within the sector.

Kelly Molson: I love that. And now Digital Visitor is the UK’s leading strategic digital welcome agency for travel, tourism and hospitality. You’ve done all right.

Simon Jones: Absolutely. Well, thank you. Yeah. I think when you’re passionate about something, it becomes a lot easier, doesn’t it? And as I say, we’re still dealing with people’s leisure time. We’re able to work with a lot of great partners that deliver fantastic experiences, and it’s our job to make sure we get those people to them to have those experiences. Yeah, it still works really well.

Kelly Molson: Fabulous. And now, look, it’s been a tricky year. It’s been, to say the least. But I don’t want to look back on this episode because I think we’ve talked quite a lot about how people have come through the pandemic and how people have been supporting their clients through that. But what I really want to focus on today is what comes next, because we are now starting that run-up to Christmas. And as we said earlier, your website has never been more important as it is now. And that’s not just in terms of pre-booking, but that’s in terms of retail and in terms of gifting as well.

What I’d like to share with our listeners today are things that they can take away and implement. Should we start with digital marketing strategies for Christmas, and what does that look like? And what can attractions be focusing on right now that is going to push them through to Christmas and really make the most of what they can achieve?

Simon Jones: Yeah, sure. I mean, I think it was interesting over this period is that the shift towards digital has just absolutely built momentum. It was obviously happening over the last few years. And when I started in marketing, obviously digital didn’t even exist. To now go to a stage where for me it becomes absolutely the most important thing that you do, is quite bizarre to see the shift that’s happened over the last few months. It’s probably moved on what would have been five, six years from that point of view.

What digital does is it gives you that complete immediacy to be able to look at things, what’s working, what’s not working, change your tactic straight away. It’s completely agile and it’s totally transparent. You can really see what’s working for you, what isn’t working for you, things that aren’t working for you, you turn off. You don’t need to wait for three months whilst the poster has to run its course in a place, that you can actually change it straight away and really, really focus on those bits that will drive the revenue for you.

And in terms of, we still don’t know what the next few months are going to bring. We don’t know if we’re going to be open. We absolutely have no idea at the moment what’s going to happen. But what we do know is Christmas isn’t going away. It may be a different style of Christmas, but people will want to give gifts. They will want to treat people to nice things that they can do. And I think the whole concept of experience gifting is just absolutely an opportunity that visitor attractions should not miss out on. The experience gifting market has grown over the last few years hugely anyway. And I just think this is going to really intensify that. If people can’t see you or they’re not allowed to travel to have big family all together at Christmas, sending the best possible thing you can do as an experience when people can go back out. And obviously from an attractions point of view, that’s brilliant because you get the revenue now.

It is a really difficult time. If you can get your revenue in at this stage and then the actual visit can happen at any point over the next 12 months or whenever it is, but really focusing in on driving that revenue from those ticket experiences is just a huge opportunity that people can’t miss out on.

Kelly Molson: And that is something that was continuously talked about at the VAC when we both spoke at it, is that drive for memberships and selling the experience of something that you can’t go to it now, but you can go to it in the future. And I think it was something like 23 to 25% increase in sales, in memberships, when actually attractions were locked down. There was a huge spike in, there is a huge need for people and a want and a desire for people to come back. It’s definitely something to focus on now.

I mean, what about looking at securing the revenue? We’ve got reduced capacity at the moment in terms of visitor numbers, how does experience gifting help that?

Simon Jones: Yeah. From a point of view, from the experience gifting, I mean, there’s, and actually you mentioned one thing there Kelly which is also very important, is memberships. If you’re someone who is buying a gift for someone, that whole point of saying here’s a bit of clothes or some clothes or something that you don’t like, compared with giving a gift that is going down a zip line at a hundred miles an hour, or visiting some of the best experiences or attractions that you can go through. There’s just no comparison, in that you’re giving people real experiences and potentially memories for life.

From that point of view, that’s brilliant. But from the attraction side, I mean, obviously there’s going to be a big push in the buildup to Christmas for people looking to buy, looking to secure these presents. And the revenue goes into the attractions at that time. If you’re going to be closed for the next few months, there’s a great opportunity to drive a load of cash into your business. And some people may not, you may account for that once the visit actually happened, but whatever happens is you’re building up a cash reserve there, which can help to some degree. When obviously then people do come and visit at a later point, you’ll get secondary spend from them. There’ll be other opportunities to get even further revenue from those people. The whole shops, we know people are buying more in visitor attraction shops when they go through. Obviously from a catering point of view as well.

And even better, rather than selling just a one-off ticket if you’ve sold them a membership as a gift, if someone’s giving a membership, you’re going to get that visit time and time again. And over the next few months, you’re going into probably six months through next year. I think local visits are going to be hugely important. People aren’t going to be looking to travel as far. They don’t know what the long-term plans, if we’re going to go into a lockdown again. Keeping local and experiencing things on their doorstep is going to become an even bigger part of what they want to do.

Finally, just on that, once you’ve got their details, if someone’s bought from you there is always the opportunity to constantly contact them. Go back to those people and potentially upsell. Get more commitment from them. You’ve got a direct line. And, okay. Even if someone’s buying a gift for someone else, you never know, you might encourage them to want to do it as well. Or even just adding value to the package that they’ve already bought. There’s no reason to say a few weeks later, they might want to add something else to that, if you can get them.

It opens up a whole new load and that’s just on the ticket side, but it really does open up a whole load of opportunities to drive that revenue.

Kelly Molson: It’s interesting what you said about, I mean, I’ve always very much myself being someone that will buy people gifts that have a longevity to them and a membership or something like that, or an experience feels right. It feels more exciting than just, I don’t know, something that’s going to get used and then you throw it away. I’m thinking about what I’m, my parents don’t listen to this podcast but I’m going to get them a National Trust membership this year because they live about 45 minutes away from where we are. They’ve stayed very, very local to their area. They live in a market town in Essex. They haven’t really been outside of that town that much. They’ve come to visit us a couple of times when they were able to.

But I think that gift will give them, they will expand their area slightly and they can still go to places that are outside that they feel more comfortable with. Hopefully they’ll appreciate that I’ve thought this through for them this year.

Simon Jones: It’ll be just your luck that is time will be the one time they do listen to the podcast, [inaudible 00:18:20].

Kelly Molson: God, I hope not. But I mean, what you talked about, locality is really interesting as well, isn’t it? Is that local audiences are even more important than ever now.

Simon Jones: Yeah. I mean, certainly people haven’t wanted to travel very far. If they’ve been going out and doing things, they’d been staying in their local market. And there’s a lot of evidence to show that people are going back to sites and places that they know, in terms of they’ve got the confidence, they know the site, they know how they’re going to get there. They know what’s going to happen when they’re on the site itself.

And it just gives them that confidence to take that step, if it’s something they’d been unsure of previously. That’s definitely not going to change over the short term. I’d know, from my point of view, I’ve explored more in the local area in Bristol over the last few months than I just, I’ve just discovered places I didn’t even know existed. And when you’re about 500 years old, like I am, you just don’t think you’re going to come across new things.

The opportunity to get people doing more locally and supporting their local attractions and their local businesses, it’s just hugely important. And I think people are willing to spend money locally now, sorry, when previously they would’ve gone further afield to actually have those experiences. They just wouldn’t have thought about coming locally. Whereas now they will. Now it does translate very much into, if you’re thinking about Christmas, we talk about experience gifting as being obviously a key opportunity for that giving the experiences there.

But many attractions have got fantastic products and fantastic shops. It’s not only that, they very much need to be thinking about themselves as a retail business in the buildup to it. What have they got? What products do they have that will sell? Now, I’m not saying compete against an Amazon or the big boys. You need to think really closely about what branded products there. The added value that you get from your brand. Now, what can people see? What will they value to it? Niche things that they didn’t, I said I worked for We the Curious before. You see places like I see in the science museums and stuff. They have amazing science experiments and things that you can buy. How about just focusing in on those really niche areas that you can then give people great fun to have at home? Which is easily extending your brand and obviously securing the sell from your point of view as well.

And from that side, just as an example, what about if it was almost an annual membership where you could say, right, well, you get a different experiment a month? Or something along those lines. Just very much thinking about, all right, we’ve got great products. How do you sell them? And it’s about competing in that marketplace as well, but with the right things. Not trying to compete where you’re going to be massively under cut, or you’re not going to be able to compete with the marketing spent.

Kelly Molson: I love that. And it makes it really personalized to that attraction as well, doesn’t it? We had a really good chat with Paul Griffiths a couple of weeks ago from Painshill Park. And he talked about how when during lockdown, they actually went out and they sold the wine and the gin that is produced from the vineyards that are at the park. And I was like, that’s fantastic. That really makes, it makes that gift very personal to that venue. And it’s something that nobody else can sell as well.

Yeah, I think that’s so important to concentrate on. What about, how do we get people to the attractions? If attractions need to focus on not just ticket sales from a digital perspective, but also retail and gifting, how to get them there? What channels do you use?

Simon Jones: Well, I mean, from the point of view of conversion, obviously this goes back to the session Kelly, that the website’s the most important thing in terms of driving that conversion there. Making sure you’ve got really simple, easy conversion process going through to once you get people to the site, is absolutely imperative from there.

But in terms of driving people in, we almost look at it into three separate areas. There’s what we call converting intent. Converting intent is really encouraging those people who are already looking for something. They might be looking for you from a brand name, or they might be looking for something to do around what you do, or they might be looking for something to do in a location, but they are actively searching for something to do.

And there’s two ways to get reaching those people. One is obviously from an SEO point of view, making sure that you’re doing really well from that organic searching, the right phrases, the right areas, making sure you’re ranking really well for those. And then there’s the paid search. Really focusing on driving through those conversions. And it is definitely worth paid search going through to the site and making sure that you are putting money into those areas because it definitely does show a return. From that point of view, there’s converting that. And also, for those attractions that are charitable attractions, so like many of the people that we deal with, I’m sure most people are looking at this. But there’s the Google Ads Grant. And Google Ads Grant gives you a good amount, $10,000 a month in terms of supporting your marketing activity online. And it gives you a really good opportunity to use that spend that Google has provided to drive that traffic through to your website. It gives you another great opportunity from there.

In terms of inspiration, digital is great. To be able to use great content, great video, great visuals. Social media obviously provides a huge amount of opportunity in terms of putting the right message in front of the right audience. We can target by so many different things these days that you can really, really show that you’re getting the right people to see the content and then to click through and get back to your site. The cost per clicks from social is a lot lower. We find some really good value from driving people through, but it’s not always been.

Previously, I would say not always been the best of converting channels. That’s changed. People are very used to clicking through and buying from those social routes now. And all of that feeds into then the re-targeting, and obviously Kelly, you guys do great websites. It’s about making sure that you’ve got, when you’ve got them to the site, you’ve got the right tracking in place then so that if they don’t buy that time, you can continue that message to them. You know they’re interested, they’ve been through to the site. Get your retargeting correct and then you can drive them back in, in terms of driving those sales.

Kelly Molson: Yeah, absolutely. Thanks for the plug on the websites as well. I think what I really like about when you and Anthony speak, and I’ve seen both of you speak now a number of times, is that you look at things from a very holistic approach. It’s actually, it’s not always just one channel that you’re talking about or digital actually. What about other channels that we can consider? What about things like audio and TV, for example? Is that a bit of a far cry for attractions right now? Or is that something they should be, or could be focusing on?

Simon Jones: I think it’s a really important part of it. You think back to traditional TV advertising, I would have said it probably was way outside of most people’s capabilities, or budgets. Sorry, not capabilities. But when you had just a few channels to choose from the amount of money that you needed to invest in it from a point of view of a return. But again, digital in these areas really does help. If you look at something like a Sky [inaudible 00:25:34], for example, basically it gives you the option of the TV advertising, but overlay that with the absolute brilliant targeting you get through social. And it really does give the opportunity to hit the right people. Eight houses watching the same program in a street can all be delivered a different ad based on their traits, their what they watch, what their habits are. You can really make sure again, that you’re getting the right message in front of the right people.

Audio. I mean, I spend all my life on, listening to podcasts now. I walk in and out of work every day, it’s a great way to relax after a day’s work. And you can put specific adverts, or you can put specific content on front of the, obviously the right podcast. You know, again, if somebody is listening to a podcast about football or about wartime history or whatever, if you then get a message to them that you’re getting a really niche audience, sorry, who you can pretty much guarantee are going to be interested in what you have to offer.

I think it’s going to be really hard for a lot of out of home over the coming few months. I mean, you’re seeing the pictures of what’s going on in London. There’s not a lot of people in Central London at the moment. Yet that, from cheap advertising, TFL, that used to be a really, really important part of the way attractions would think of communicating with audiences that were in those area. But it does now need to be shifted and go, the audience isn’t there so you need to go where the audience is. Outside of just that, you’ve got things like influencers, the whole idea of bloggers and influencers and people these days that can have a big say on what people do. That’s massive. And make sure that people, you’re embracing that. Look at who are your local influences are? What are the influencers in the space that you’re looking at? Engage with them.

Yeah. Okay. Some of them might need to be paid to do it, but if they have the right audience, they have an engaged audience, it’s actually in terms of engagement side, where they call the sort of the smaller influencers who have much better audience in terms of getting reactions and engagement from. It really does work well, from that point of view.

And another one I’m always keen on is partnerships. I’ve spent a big part of my career talking to people that partnerships are a great way to work. And it doesn’t have to in your sector. For example, you mentioned National Trust, there. You might go for someone like a bird hack or something like that, where they’ve got very, very similar audience demographics and their interests are the same opportunity. If you can forge a partnership and you can work together to benefit both audiences, then that’s great because it’s just extending up a whole new set of people you can talk to.

Kelly Molson: On the topic of partnerships, actually, I was thinking about this in terms of Christmas. A lot of the attractions that we’re speaking to are doing different Christmas events than would usually have been planned. Just because of social distancing, logistics, demand, capacity, et cetera. How about, would you ever recommend attractions partnering up with another local attraction to do, you buy a ticket for this one and you get ticket for this one as well? Or doing a joint package? Something like that?

Simon Jones: Yeah. I mean, it’s something, again, I’ve actually always thought it’s a really good idea. And when I was based in Bristol working at [inaudible 00:28:51] into there, we were partner with all the other attractions there and did joint ticketing and joint sales where you could. Or sometimes joint ticketing can be difficult depending on the ticketing systems and what’s allowed, but certainly cross promotion. You’re not, for something like that you’re not really competing for, people are going to do many things over the course of the year. Particularly if they’re concentrating on staying local.

The more that you can look to work together and the more that you can benefit each other, particularly in these difficult times is absolutely something I would work towards. And the other thing from a partnerships point of view, maybe not so much with the attractions, but if you can, we’ve done some great data capture campaigns with when we’ve been using say a major retail brand that has a huge audience. And if we can engage with that audience, get them back in to run a competition with a visitor attraction, then you can capture that data. Obviously, as long as it’s GDPR compliant, you can then have an ongoing communication with those people for however you want to then. And that can be a really, really effective way of building that proper communication channel with people.

Kelly Molson: Awesome. Yeah, that’s a really great idea, especially in the run up now to Christmas. What, we’re coming towards the end of the podcast. I’ve got a couple more questions for you. But what would you, if you could sum up the top three things that attractions should be focusing on right now while we’re in that run up to Christmas, what are those top three things, Simon?

Simon Jones: Definitely from a point of view of, I’d get the basics right. What things can you sell? Have you got a voucher to start with? Make sure you’ve got that and then do the simple steps to get people in to buying that voucher. Make sure you’ve got your paid search and your organic search strong. Get people into the site, use social media to inspire people to get to the site, and then get your retargeting right so that you can convert that audience. That’s probably four actually.

But there are many others that we could go through, but I think, look, start with them. If attractions are further down the line, then there’s a lot more, they can think about digital, the audio, TV, what other products that they can sell. I think it’s very much thinking about their own situation. How far down the road are they? I mean, and even what events have they got coming up? Sorry, I’m just going off on a bit of a tangent here. But now I remember there was, again it was back, I think it was, I think Sue Briggs from RHS was talking about the shows that they’d run through the summer that obviously are normally incredibly important for them.

And they were doing the online versions of those and people were paying to see, enter the shows from that point of view. There are so many attractions that do fantastic events over this time. Light shows, Longleat down by us do great ones. I know Edinburgh Zoo do fantastic. There’s so many there. It’s a case of, all right, if we’re not going to be able to get the volume through, how else can I monetize this? What else can I do to give people that little bit of value that’s in, kind of and encourage them to come along and actually? Or it’s not to come along, but to participate in this online.

You’re not going to stop the audience that wants to come locally because we can reduce capacity. We’re still going to be able to get those people through. But actually, how can you just get the little bits of revenue from other people to help the pot of money build up over this difficult time?

Kelly Molson: Brilliant. Thank you. Super advice, as always Simon. We’re going to put all of Simon’s details in the show notes, but where’s the best place that our listeners can find you, Simon? If they want to book a call with you to discuss any of these things?

Simon Jones: Okay. Well, I think probably the best thing would be to go to our website, which is www.digitalvisitor.com. And my details are on there, and they can come through to, from that point of view. But, thank you.

Kelly Molson: Fab. We will put all of that in the show notes. We always like to end the podcast by asking our guests about a book. We’d like to know what book that you’d recommend, that’s maybe helped shape your career? Or just a book that you really love, that you’d recommend that our listeners could pick up and read?

Simon Jones: Kelly, sorry, I’m going to have to two, because I know, I’m sorry.

Kelly Molson: Budget out the window, again.

Simon Jones: Okay. From a personal point of view, I love John Steinbeck. I love the books that, things like, I’ll give one just so you don’t have to do too many, but I think Cannery Row is absolute brilliant. I love the area that’s, the whole area around California. And I’ve been traveling around there and it’s so atmospheric, they give a really good insight to what the area was like in the times.

And obviously Of Mice and Men as well, which I will go with Cannery Row [inaudible 00:33:31]. Steinbeck’s great, and I think any of the books by John Steinbeck are really engaging. From a business point of view, it’s interesting. Over the last few years, I’ve got more into reading business books, particularly using Audible walking in and out of work. And I think one of the hardest things I’ve always had in business is dealing with difficult problems. If you’ve got, particularly from a staff point of view, if you’ve got a difficult situation, it’s very hard to deal with that. It can be very easy to bury your head in the sand and just let things go. But it always, majority of the time that always gets worse.

A little while back there was a book by Kim Scott called Radical Candor. And I found that really helpful in terms of how to approach that and actually what the benefits of it were and just the structures and the ways that you can do proper constructive conversations and feedback with people to actually help everybody in that. Yeah, Radical Candor was something that opened my eyes into a slightly different way of doing things. I think that’s what I’d recommend.

Kelly Molson: That is a great book choice. I have read that book, it’s sitting on my bookshelf upstairs, and it is, yeah, it is really great actually. She’s so, yeah. Yeah.

As ever, if you would like to win a copy of this book, then head over to our Twitter account which is skip_the_queue. And if you retweet this episode announcement with the comment, “I want Simon’s book.” Then you could be in with a chance of winning it.

Well, it’s been an absolute delight to have you on the podcast today, Simon. Thank you for coming on and sharing all of your insight. As we said, all of Simon’s details are going to be in the show notes. I would highly recommend if you are not fixed for Christmas already book a call, and I’m sure that Digital Visitor can help you out. Thank you.

Simon Jones: Brilliant. Thanks very much, Kelly.


Do you know someone we should be talking to?

Do you know someone fascinating we should be talking to?

If so, email us at hello@rubbercheese.com – we’ll get back to you shortly.

Paul Wright.
Kelly Molson Managing Director

Host of the popular Skip the Queue Podcast, for people working in or working with visitor attractions, she regularly delivers workshops and presentations on the sector at various national conferences and universities including The Visitor Attractions Conference, ASVA and Anglia Ruskin University.

Read more about me

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