My business has taken an unexpected turn, enabling me to add new services and quietly retiring others, no longer relevant in this post pandemic world.
I have the radio on most days in my office, and today’s topic is: “Can we, or can’t we go on holiday this summer?” The future me (or you), may read this and shudder, remembering what we endured in 2020 and 2021 as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. The impact on travel and tourism has been catastrophic. A game-changer.
This is not about the Covid-19 pandemic however, it is about what my business has become and what you can expect from me, should we work together.
“It takes a community to nurture and grow a resilient visitor economy”
You will find my career profile with dates and detail on LinkedIn, so won’t repeat it.
I have worked with amazing tourism colleagues at home and abroad, some of whom are now good friends. We have walked many miles together, shared wonderful meals (and some mishaps), worked creatively and tirelessly to bring a sense of place and commercial purpose to benefit and grow tourism communities, through business support, writing, photography, marketing comms and now, tourism retail.
a fresh perspective
Closer to home, as co-founder of the Chilterns Tourism Network – a role I have largely volunteered, organising and hosting networking meetings, workshops, campaigns, collaboration and social media platforms. A privilege. The time has come however, to reconfigure this space into a venture where I can share more of my skills and experience to sustainably support businesses and destinations. I am doing this with career-long friend and colleague, Susan Briggs, who for years has been adept at helping tourism businesses be smarter and better. You can participate, either as a business or destination. Further information here.
For the past four years, I have been writing a blog called “A Year in the Chilterns’. This is discovery is around Sense of Place, or local distinctiveness: not needing to seek big flashy destinations that too often involve an aeroplane and tortuous journeys. This blog is a labour of love, but I thoroughly enjoy tramping around the Chilterns, looking, listening, loitering even and meeting lovely people. It charts the seasons and stories of my local area, proud as I am to live and work here. I aspire to turn it into a book one day. If you have any ideas of how I can do this, do let me know.
I post daily what I see and enjoy on Instagram @ChilternHills. I am part of lovely community celebrating. collaborating and sharing what we know and love about where we live.
I have learnt to make videos and recorded 18 Lockdown01 walks, that offer a new take on visitor interpretation. You can see on Vimeo.
Consumers are looking for deeper, more meaningful experiences
This has enabled me to develop skills that guide businesses to speak to their customers about their own sense of place and discovery of a wider regional story, of which they can be a part; crucial communication techniques that speaks about more than a bed for the night, a coffee on the high street or a glass of beer in a pub. Consumers are looking for deeper, more meaningful experiences.
The pandemic will leave its mark, but a silver lining for me is that it has reinforced what I have been doing for years: travelling slowly around my local area, leaving as light a footprint as I can, and sharing what I discover, in a sensitive, thoughtful way.
Collaboration between tourism and retail
Chilterns Gifts is new venture that was launched in late 2020 with friend and talented designer Zoe Mingos, is a direct result of the Lockdown01. Brewing quietly in the background, empty in-trays afforded us the space to develop a new retail business that brings to the market, souvenirs and quality gifts from the Chilterns.
You are never too old to adapt and learn. Fortunately the clever folk who design software have made this venture so much easier and cheaper, than say five years ago. We have had a terrific response, and expect the business to grow and flourish. There are opportunities to get involved if you wish to stock any items.
It takes a crisis to set new things in motion. Thank you to my amazing colleagues and clients, a vital community forged over 30 years in the industry I love. The pandemic will leave its mark, but it has simply reinforced what I have known and quietly been doing for years: travelling slowly around my local area, stopping to look and listen, sharing what I discover, in a sensitive, thoughtful way through business support, writing, photography, marketing comms and now, tourism retail.
I also offer, with my European colleagues, Representation Services. Further information.