The devil is in the detail.
Mary’s approach is always grounded in the end-user, the visitor, and how they can be meaningfully engaged by the businesses and suppliers who will have to deliver on the visitor promise.
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 fail to appreciate and perhaps even forge links with the places we visit.
Businesses can no longer compete based on product alone, because (potential) customers can check in an instant, everything that anyone has said about your business. They will be less likely to trust you, rather than others in their network: this is a game-changer for the tourism and leisure industry as traditional and official channels loose their relevance and impact in a fluid marketplace where we can all speak to anyone we like, from wherever we like.
Mary’s philosophy is to preferably go on foot, to not see everything through glass or at high speed; to stop, listen and observe. Listen to what the location and people who live and work there are saying, and to devise practical solutions for sharing and enabling the customer experience. Don’t overlook those tiny details, threads, what you may consider too bland and to local to be of any interest. This is, what will set you apart from your competitors.
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, trade associations, tourism business networks, London boroughs, county councils and emerging urban and rural DMO’s.
“What are you doing that is different in your business?”
Mary has kept her business independent, 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 taking on a new project, Mary’s approach is always grounded in the end-user and how they can be meaningfully engaged with through the businesses who will have to deliver on the visitor promise;
- Discovery of your product
- Design and Development of practical business services that support your offer and
- Effective deployment of resources for businesses to pace with rapidly evolving consumers
Some career history highlights:
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 is now working on the Great English Walking Trails Discover England projected managed by the Marketing Peak District & Derbyshire Agency. The National Trails provide some of the nation’s highest quality walking and holiday experiences that are managed locally but within a framework of guidance and support provided by Natural England. Some of the trails are being repackaged and represented to new audiences in target markets looking to experiences and spend time in the Great British Outdoors.
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, negotiate JMA’s in order to grow the first time visitor segments and increase repeat visits.
Mary has worked 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!
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.
Co-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.
A keen Instagrammer, Mary’s daily posts capture a small part of the vast Chilterns landscape.
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 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.
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