About Mary Tebje

In our selfie-obsessed world, we fail to see anything anymore, so intent are we with rushing around bagging all those top sights to share with our social networks, that we don’t know where we are, who has been there before and perhaps not even why what we are perched on the edge of, is there in the first place.

Mary’s philosophy is to stop. To sit awhile and to listen. Listen to what the location and people who belong there are saying.

Mary Tebje is a leading tourism professional with considerable international travel and tourism experience. A specialist in travel marketing and PR communications, branding, travel trade engagement, online editorial, social media, product and market development, Mary has worked for over 25 years at a senior level for visitor attractions, destinations, national parks, trade associations, tourism business networks, London boroughs, county councils and emerging urban and rural Destination Marketing Organisations (DMO’s), in the UK and aboard.

As you can no longer compete with other businesses in your sector based on your product alone, because (potential) customers can check in an instant, everything that everyone else is saying about your business – and they will be less likely to trust you rather than anybody else in their network. This is a game-changer for tourism and leisure communications as traditional and official channels loose their relevance and impact in a fluid marketplace where we can all speak to anyone we like, from anywhere we like.

What are you doing that is different in your business?”

Mary has kept her business small, working with clients she knows and respects, who come to her through word of mouth recommendation. A consummate professional and doer, Mary prefers to be on the sharp end, successfully implementing projects and campaigns on time and within budget, that have needed her considerable skills in both an advisory and deployment capacity.

When Mary is asked to take on a new project, her approach is always grounded in the end-user and how they can be meaningfully engaged – including B2B and B2C;

  • Discovery of your product
  • Design of responsive, cost-effective, and practical solutions
  • Development of practical business services that support your offer and
  • Effective deployment of resources for businesses to keep 10-steps ahead of a rapidly evolving consumer.

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Some career history highlights:

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In my favourite habitat: on the site of an Iron Age hillfort in the Chilterns, gives me space to think and breath.

The grassroots is a place where Mary prefers to spend her professional time, and so left the corporate world in 2000, where she had worked at a senior level in customer experience and marketing management for leading London-based visitor attractions including Madame Tussaud’s & London Planetarium and the Tower Bridge Experience, the former now part of the largest entertainment group in the world, the latter run by the London City Corporation.

Mary began her consultancy career running a Destination Marketing Organisation (DMO) in London’s docklands, TourEast London, in the days before the London 2012 Olympic Games were even a twinkle in the Mayors’ eyes, and promotion of anything outside the central ‘Zone One’ was a no-no. Forging a new visitor offer and brand identity for a part of London that had perception, awareness and infrastructure problems, Mary and her team worked creatively, enthusiastically and tirelessly with new tourism suppliers, NTO’s and sceptical RTO’s, accommodation providers, museums and visitor attractions, media and the travel trade to bring accessible products, places, people and itineraries alongside enhanced economic benefits and way of delivering that produced spectacular results. Now a hip and must-see destination, Mary’s work in east London was done.

Mary has been appointed as the lead Country Representative for the three primary markets that include the United Kingdom, Benelux and German outbound leisure visitors for the Eastern Cape Parks & Tourism Agency in South Africa. This  project will be delivered with colleagues based in the Netherlands and Germany who together will be working with travel intermediaries (including the media), to increase destination awareness, to grow the first time visitor segments and increase repeat visits.

Mary is currently working with the Chilterns Conservation Board developing a feasibility study for the new ‘Chalk, Cherries & Chairs Landscape Partnership scheme’ that will harness and build a sense of place that inspires local people to understand, enjoy and care about their distinctive natural and cultural heritage as well as a celebration of local heritage skills, traditions and produce.

Mary has completed an assignment for the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) to provide expert UK market advice and strategy for the project team developing a new tourism master plan for the Provincial Government of the Shandong province in China. Says project leader Mike Fabricius; “Since I approached you originally for this assignment, it is also prudent for me to thank you most sincerely for the wonderful support and excellent execution you have provided us before, during and after our trip to the UK. Your personal attention and friendship was also much appreciated. Meeting and talking to the key operators has given us a good idea of the structure of the UK market and realistic opportunities for promoting Shandong. Your desk research and databases were invaluable to us and will certainly be of much assistance to the Shandong tourism authorities”. Thank you Mike!

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Mary has completed an online digital strategy,  implementation and training for a Chilterns market town aiming to target locals and visitors to the area.

Mary has completed a 12-month assignment for Essex County Council leading the tourism team at Visit Essex, reviewing their strategic plan and setting the direction of travel for 2016 – 2018. An interesting destination, with close links to east London, Mary has put Essex on a journey of self-discovery as one of England’s last great secrets. She has since been co-opted onto the Visit Essex board so will continue her close association with East Anglia.

Founder member and director of the Chilterns Tourism Network Ltd, a private tourism company located in a rural tourism destination just outside London, bringing together for the first time  local tourism suppliers to raise awareness of the emerging visitor offer, encourage collaboration and to build a new destination brand identity. The work is interesting and varied, as this rural destination, although so close to London, may as well be on the moon! Primarily B2B engagement, Mary main role is to provide strategic oversight, and to manage the digital content of the various social media platforms and the website VisitChilterns.co.uk. Mary also runs workshops to provide practical advice, ideas and an access to market.

 

Mary is working on a new project that is examining the Chilterns story and sense of place – those components that make up a destinations and its offer, but are often over-looked in a visitors’ rush to ‘bag all the sights’. All going well, Mary hopes to publish  in 2018.

A keen Instagrammer, Mary’s daily posts capture a small part of the vast Chilterns landscape.

And this blog? I like to write! Thankfully travel and writing go hand in hand and I like to capture some of personality and character of the places I have been fortunate enough to spend time in.

Mary continues to work on the development of the food tourism as a key driver for the visitor economy and has completed, with the Chilterns Conservation Board, the hugely successful Taste of the Chilterns Defra-funded marketing campaign, a first for the destination. Working with over 80 local suppliers and retailers, food & travel bloggers and the media to successfully bring the emerging food tourism sector to the attention of locals and Londoners.

For four busy years, Mary was UK Representative for Cape Town Tourism where she initially managed their World Cup 2010 visitor offer and subsequently went on to successfully develop and promote products and itineraries to the media and travel trade which has contributed towards the UK retaining its position as No.1 source market for the destination (and the country).

Mary continues to provide advice and support for South African-based tourism businesses, some of whom are experiencing tough trading conditions and increased competition from rival long haul destinations.

Mary continues to partner with the Tourism Network to deliver innovative and succesful tourism campaigns and business support training by examining key leisure trends and changes in consumer leisure habits.

Mary developed the London Greeters volunteer network, part of the Global Greeters Network, where she designed and delivered the specialist training – such a good scheme as it’s perfect for visitor dispersal and engaging local communities. http://www.LondonGreeters.org

Mary continues to contribute editorial, key note presentations and comment to local, national and international tourism media outlets.

Over the past five years key projects that reflect my philosophy that ‘you have to learn to live with uncertainty, learn to do business with constant change’ sees Mary working with increasing numbers of small businesses who supply into the leisure and hospitality industry chain to help them become more communication-savvy and responsive in a manner that doesn’t hinder what they do best – successfully manage their own businesses.


Mary believes in giving back to her business and local community and continues to volunteer her time and expertise to the following organisations;

Mary has been co-opted onto the board of Visit Essex for a one-year assignment to work with the tourism team as they adapt their business model to changing funding streams.

Mary volunteers on the local Chilterns’ LEADER LAG (Local Action Group); which is a grant programme exists to support the development of rural businesses within the Chilterns. It has approximately £1.5m to invest in grants to individual businesses before 2020 and the allocation of the grants is determined by the LAG.

Mary also sits on the Regional Strategic Tourism Group which consists of 10 Buckinghamshire and Chilterns-based tourism business owners who supply the local tourism industry, as well as the Chilterns Tourism Network and Visit Buckinghamshire.

Mary has completed a two-year term as committee member of SATOA, the UK trade association that promotes outbound travel and tourism to Southern Africa.

Mary has completed a four-year terms as a parent governor and formerly vice chair of governors at Brookmead Primary School, Ivinghoe.


Do get in touch if Mary can help your business get out of the information slow lane and connected with your customers with inspiring content and imaginary.

There are many ways to get in touch: please leave a comment below or contact me on http://uk.linkedin.com/in/tourismleisure

2 thoughts on “About Mary Tebje

  1. Enjoyed your recent accounts of trips to Greenwich/EAL etc & Hogarth House as I have led walks in East London and being a West Londoner am very familiar with Hogarth’s House and the nearby Chiswick House where I took a group of friends after my birthday bash at the Old Ship, Upper Mall. hammersmith last month when the weather was still bitterly cold!.

    1. Thank you David, I hope to explore more of west London, and sadly didn’t leave enough time to visit Chiswick House. Such a difference between east and west London though!

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