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Collaborative possibilities: examples from Edinburgh & East Lothian

Examples of the challenges and possibilities of sharing
The challenge for the city, is is to find an honest broker, who can hold the data securely. So that people will feel confident, about giving their possibly very sensitive, financial, admissions, times, all that data, but for the greater good and in the way that they can also get this shared resource back. So I think, I think that is, that is, that will be great for Edinburgh. Whether it’s gonna happen or not, I don’t know.
In the meantime, I know that I can get on the phone, to an awful lot people in tourism and they will tell me how it is and they can get on the phone to me, or email to me and I will tell them exactly how it is. It’s that generous Network, which helps Edinburgh be the top destination that it is today. I would like something for the city. I’ve been asking for years for a city forecast, the like of which they’ve already got in Venice. Where they know how many people are in the city and where they’re staying and where they’re from and how long they’re here for.
And all that data is out there, but the challenge, is getting people who are willing to share it. We’re very fortunate in the attraction sector, because we have a trade association. The Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions and most of us share our data with that. Then within that, you can do some benchmarking, against other places. So again, we’ve for many years, we’ve tracked our admissions figures against other attractions nearby. Similar attraction near by, with similar markets. So that’s, that’s, that’s useful but we need, you say we need more sharing really and we need something citywide that we can all access, to give a better experience to to the the growing market in Edinburgh.
Many people within Edinburgh tourism recognise that, we’re not competing with each other, we’re competing with, with the best in the world and Edinburgh is a world-class destination. A lot of the attractions in Edinburgh for example are five-star, which in Visit Scotland terms, means exceptional. I go to places that are supposed to be world-class, it’s actually not a very high benchmark in some ways. So we have to, we have to work really, really hard, to to to maintain that. I think the more that we share and we have this certainly a lot in the attraction sector, the more we share, the better.
So I know for example in terms of collaboration, I work with the Castle, the Whiskey Experience and the Hub, locally just in our street. The Tattoo, The Witchery and the Weaving Mill next door. We are in a marketing group that’s been running for 20 years. We don’t do marketing together, but boy do we share information and that’s terribly useful. We share what goes wrong, which is absolutely key. I think the journey that we’ve been on, has been quite specific to Musselburgh Racecourse. I now feel that we’ve learnt a lot, that we can share with other regional destinations and work in collaboration with them, for the benefit of the region.
We do work with tourism companies, within East Lothian and and there is you know, sort of, growing supports for increasing that, you know, so that where we can, we can be a part of a kind of, wider national message. So I think that there are definite benefits, from, sort of communicating what East Lothian has to offer to our customers and the reciprocal benefits across the region. But we haven’t, we probably haven’t maximised those yet. But but data is a journey it’s constantly changing. So and the benefits, obviously we gather a lot of data now, we’ve been able to learn from that.
The more data the other attractions and destinations have, the more we can see what crossovers there are and we can we can work with that information, to increase the benefits for everybody. One of the big big challenges is how to match supply and demand. So the peak days, are getting more and more busy and we’re working very, very hard to keep the quality of experience up. There are certainly opportunities to spread the market a bit and all the city’s, city’s been working on that. Visit Scotland’s working on that. So spread geographically and spread in terms of, time of year and time of day.
Another thing that is a possibility is dynamic pricing, the kind of thing that’s used commonly in hotels and various forms of travel through the air travel. We’re working in collaboration, with Edinburgh University and our trade association and the Whisky Experience. On a project on dynamic pricing, which is really a kind of forecaster, to see if it would work, work here. So the idea would be, it would be an algorithmic dynamic pricing. It would take whatever was happening in town, it would give an incentive to come at a quieter time, spreading the load, improving the experience at peak times as well, because the prices would go up, demand would go down and hopefully everyone would be, would be happier.
One of the most interesting projects I was involved in recently was the Edinburgh Tourism Innovation Challenge and that came about, completely in collaboration with a number of businesses within the city. It was people like Scottish Enterprise, it was when I was at Festivals Edinburgh and Marketing Edinburgh were involved. We came together because we recognized the opportunities, to do essentially a hackathon, over a weekend and bring together the sector as in Edinburgh with some data scientists and developers, who were the brains behind potential new project ideas. What did come out of that though was some real time, potential projects, again through collaboration, that are being taken into the marketplace now.
So things from being China ready, to a project called Quest Native, which was about distributing some of the visitors away from those peak spots at peak summertime. So instead of just automatically going to the castle, you know somewhere down in Leith might be slightly quieter and you could gain points, if you went at certain times of day. So it was a really great opportunity, to see how those who specialise in data and those who run tourism businesses, can come together, to come up with some new potential innovation and ideas.

In this video, you will hear from people representing a range of sectors talking about collaboration challenges and possibilities from a local and global perspective respectively.

While watching the video, focus on what is said about:

  • How local co-operation can build a destination that can compete globally
  • How the knowledge you have acquired on your data journey can be shared in a regional or national network to benefit the wider destination
  • How collaborating with trade associations, partners and universities can foster data innovation through research
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Understanding Data in the Tourism Industry

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