Project Description


Monitoring and reporting on travel trends during and after the Brexit referendum

“ForwardKeys’ data is used widely within VisitBritain. It provides us with a timely and valuable picture of Britain’s inbound tourism performance and prospects, including insights on some of our key markets and regions.”

Richard Nicholls
Head of Research and Forecasting

VisitBritain’s core business objectives

As the national tourism agency of the UK, VisitBritain plays a unique role in promoting the destination. Its primary objective is to ensure sustainable tourism growth to all regions of the country. They achieve this by building and carrying out innovative marketing strategies and activities. Market research and discovering travel trends are key in carrying out these tasks.

Informing stakeholders, including many local businesses, is another important task as it helps them to understand how travel trends are developing in their region and enables them to adjust to the changing market situation.

Since events may cause a change to visitor profiles or completely deter certain tourists from visiting a destination, measuring their impact on travel is a vital component of market research.

Monitoring and analysing travel trends

Around the period of the Brexit referendum, which took place on 23 June 2016, VisitBritain’s main focus was on analysing the impact the event would have on the UK tourism market. The development of travel trends provided important input for local businesses, showing them how visitor profiles might change and how they could adapt. It also provided valuable input for the DMO, allowing it to refocus its marketing efforts on the source markets least affected.

VisitBritain turned to ForwardKeys, a trusted industry source, to gain insight into the situation along with the ability to monitor evolving trends.

Information is key

The first step for VisitBritain was to analyse the historical data to establish travel trends to the destination. It then looked at how these trends changed after the referendum. The ‘on the book’ travel data shows bookings made for future travel dates along with booking cancellations. This provided the DMO with insight into European and global travel trends.

Based on this information, VisitBritain noticed certain source markets responded more to the outcome of Brexit than others, with a higher number of cancellations from these markets. The DMO therefore shifted its focus to other markets, changing its marketing strategy and planning.

As VisitBritain has access to the ForwardKeys platform, it continued to monitor the performance of its source markets to ensure the effectiveness of its marketing campaigns.

How ForwardKeys helped

ForwardKeys’ real-time booking data was key in supporting VisitBritain’s monitoring efforts. It showed the immediate impact of the referendum while allowing the DMO to monitor its marketing campaigns.

With access to detailed data on current travel trends, the DMO was able to report on the performance of various regions. This provided valuable input for the government and its many regional tourism partners.

The results

In crisis management in tourism, it is crucial to act fast and be transparent. Thanks to the data that ForwardKeys provided, VisitBritain was able to act quickly and make decisions based on facts. It was able to inform the government, the public and local businesses in a timely manner and could define its marketing strategy based on which target audiences provided the best opportunities.

ForwardKeys continues to work with VisitBritain and now helps it to analyse the market in a totally different way, providing data that helps the DMO to identify new travel trends based on the origin of tourists as well as the duration and location of their stay.

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