Case Study: Taste of the Chilterns
We received £24,000 funding from Defra’s Great British Food programme to promote the Chilterns as a Food and Drink destination and increase tourism. The aim of the project was to celebrate and promote the rapidly expanding Chilterns food and drink offer, developing appealing new trails, events and marketing resources to put the spotlight on Chilterns food and drink, making it an integral part of the area’s tourism offer. The project capitalised on the Chilterns as a four-season destination, giving potential visitors more reasons to travel in the shoulder months and out of season months.
The Chilterns food and drink sector has seen great change in the last few years with many new food and drink producers, festivals and eateries being established. There have been notable developments including many new vineyards and micro-breweries offering tours, tastings and events. Despite all this product development, awareness of the Chilterns food and drink offer has been low because these producers and retailers are too busy either making and/or selling their products.
The project generated a lot of business collaboration and created branding and promotional content that is being widely used by the Food and Drink and tourism sector. There was national press coverage and a lot of social media and blogging exposure. The project took was delivered over a 4 month period, from December 2016 to March 2017.
What was done
The project did the following:
- Developed a Chilterns Vineyard Guide and a Chilterns Brewery Guide, showcasing some of the area’s excellent award-winning wines, and combining this with walks, rides and itineraries from the vineyards/breweries that take in the local landscape, attractions and accommodation.
- A short ‘Taste of the Chilterns’ film taking the viewer on a Chilterns food & drink discovery by electric bike (combined videographer and aerial specialist)
- Developed new Taste of the Chilterns web content on Visit Chilterns. A ‘Taste of the Chilterns’ logo and branding was developed as part of the new-look Food and Drink site and was used throughout this campaign. We are especially pleased that businesses are now using the branding in their marketing communications.
- Food and Drink guides to four Chilterns Market Towns and their rural hinterlands – linking Food and Drink alongside places to visit.
- A seven-day Chilterns Food and Drink Festival during English Tourism Week (25th March to 2nd April 2017) consisting of food and drink walks, visits, themed tours and tastings, all at various locations across the Chilterns. We encouraged businesses and partners to put on events rather than organising them ourselves. Our role was to instigate and promote the Festival, to gain wide coverage.
- Communications programme featuring several campaigns. This included working with established UK and international food bloggers as well as traditional PR and social media. We also worked with the Chilterns Food Magazine to produce a special printed edition for the Festival.
- 119 Food and Drink new businesses engaged (mainly food and drink producers) and signed up to our e-newsletter, but we are adding to this all the time, and expect to meet the target of 200 by end June 2017.
- 138 new Chilterns Food Magazine subscribers, 250 more followers on Instagram
- The Visit Chilterns Food and Drink pages have seen a spectacular 150% increase in page views in Jan-April 2017 compared to the same time period the previous year.
- 60 Business collaborations (eg businesses participating in the Food and Drink Festival, businesses cross-promoting or working together, a new electric bike tour, new Food and Drink tours trialled during the Festival).
- 40 organisations participated in the Chilterns Food and Drink Festival which attracted around 500 attendees.
- 396 new Visit Chilterns Twitter followers, 350,000 Tweet impressions.
- The project has given us the opportunity to try new things; working with Bloggers, producing a Video and putting on a Food and Drink Festival. This has left an important legacy and the relationships established will be sustained.
- The long-standing collaboration with Chilterns Tourism Network was key. The project has also shown our business community the power of collaboration by making links between sectors, clusters, networks and organisations and the involvement of the businesses was crucial.
- The networking and workshops which took place as part of the projects has led to businesses working together on new products, tours and joint marketing.
- The Food and Drink Festival was important in giving businesses something to shout about and helped gain national press coverage – this proved even more valuable to businesses than the footfall on the day.
Chilterns Conservation Board
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gMYzemWpHq4 – Taste the Chilterns video
Quote from project manager:
“The project has exceeded our expectations and the outcomes we set initially. It has generated national press coverage, generated new contacts, collaborations and volunteers. We feel the real gains made are the gradual building of awareness of the Chilterns as a Food and Drink destination, the change in perceptions, the interest which has been created and which is leading to many more things – we are now regularly getting press enquiries and interest from businesses wanting to get involved.” – Annette Venters, Chilterns Conservation Board
Quote from a participant:
“A very important point for your review is that we have seen a ‘halo’ effect. The event enabled us to have ’something to talk about’ and engage customers new and old. We had a very busy Easter as a result. Also we had a couple in this morning who had found us on the visit Chilterns website and we were also thrilled to see the 10 best pub walks in the Chilterns in the Telegraph particularly as it featured one of our closest pubs. Again we shared this on our social media platforms” – Jenny Watson, Malt the Brewery
Key search words: Food and Drink, tourism, business collaborations, Festival, Marketing.
Photo Credits: Chilterns AONB / Chilterns Conservation Board