Destination Harrogate – March Update

by John McGivern, Destination Events Manager

As Destination Harrogate reaches the first birthday milestone of the Destination Management Organisation, it’s a time to celebrate accomplishments; acknowledge growth and development, look back on a proud portfolio of “firsts”; and reflect on highlighted snapshots of an incredible year.

An exciting first was the launch of our Health & Wellbeing campaign, showcasing the Harrogate district as “A Place to Feel Good”. Our bespoke campaign content has reached hundreds of thousands of potential new visitors: online and through social media; in person through print and outdoor advertising; and with a presence at visitor events. Working with journalists and influencers, we’ve been reaching new audiences, with coverage to date in the Sunday Times, Time Out, Hello! and Women’s Health Magazine. And with upcoming activities to look forward to, including further influencer engagement; social media takeovers and advertising specifically targeting the London audience.

Our Gardens campaign, a perennial favourite of Visit Harrogate’s marketing activity, also included an exciting “first” – Cinema Botanica, our outdoor cinema at Harrogate’s Autumn Flower Show – to engage with show visitors in new ways and showcase the fabulous gardens of the Harrogate district, whilst encouraging further exploration of – and return visits to – our amazing destination. We’ve seen success after launching our first Visit Harrogate Restaurant Week, with positive feedback from local businesses inciting us to start planning for a second Restaurant Week later this year.

Businesses can find out more on our campaigns page.

In summer 2022 we took Visit Harrogate to the Great Yorkshire Show for the first time, showcasing the district at one of the largest events in the north of England. Hosted with partners, our stand activity encouraged visitors to extend their stay in Harrogate district and to come back another time, to experience more of our destination and what it has to offer. Our delivery of Jubilee in the Square was undoubtedly a highlight, as was the return of Harrogate Carnival and the exciting growth and development of Harrogate Christmas Market. Of course, the delivery of these top quality events, which delight our residents as well as our visitors, would not have been possible without the support of Harrogate BID, HIF and our Council colleagues – and we look forward to more successful partnership ventures throughout 2023.

Alongside our visitor-facing activity, our B2B engagement has also included some exciting “firsts”. We set up regular meetings for our new DMP Advisory Panel and launched a new Sales and Marketing Managers networking group, after listening to feedback from businesses. These events not only offer valuable opportunities for stakeholders to communicate and share best practice, but also provide an innovative environment out of which new ideas and ventures can be put forward, for the benefit of all.

And of course, external recognition is always appreciated – so the icing on the cake perhaps was receiving a local business award, acknowledging the positive impact of our hard work on the local tourism industry. It may be a year but we’ve brought a lot to the party – and that can only continue in a positive way, as we move forward into North Yorkshire Council and beyond.

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