Part 4:
Local
Distinctiveness
Part 4:
Local
Distinctiveness
Rural Tourism Business Toolkit
Image courtesy of Visit Kent
Rural Tourism Business Toolkit
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Part 4 ~ Local Distinctiveness
About this toolkit
This .pdf is the fourth part of a fully featured resource packed full with useful information and
advice for new and existing rural tourism businesses. It is designed to help with business evaluation,
market identification, development of effective communication and marketing strategies, and
is intended to encourage initiatives that offer great visitor experiences whilst nurturing the
environments that create them.
This toolkit has been created as part of the COOL Tourism Project by the COOL Partnership and
tourism development charity Hidden Britain.
The COOL Tourism Project
The COOL Tourism Project is a European partnership of 11 local authorities and organisations,
based in the east and south of England and in the north of France, who are working together to
help each other compete effectively in the global tourism market.
COOL Tourism aims to address the need for market research, product development and business
support in the partners’ areas, and to encourage rural tourism businesses to make use of the rural
areas’ environmental assets and local distinctiveness to attract visitors.
The project is being delivered with the support of the European cross-border co-operation
Programme INTERREG IV A, France (Channel) – England, co-funded by the European Regional
Development Fund.
The project partners include; Norfolk County Council, Essex County Council (Visit Essex), Kent County
Council (Explore Kent), Visit Kent, Somerset County Council, West Somerset Council, Sedgemoor
District Council, Exmoor National Park Authority, Pas-de-Calais Tourisme, Somme Tourisme, and
Pas-de-Calais Gîtes de France.
This toolkit has been designed to allow you to
dip in and select the tools you need.
You’ll find navigation buttons on every page to
help move back and forward between the tools
and you can easily return here to the contents
page by clicking the “home” button at any time.
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Contents
How to use this Toolkit
Page 4
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Page 5
Page 9
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Page 13
Introduction
Understanding your place
Defining what’s special
Using Local Distinctiveness
Introducing new ideas
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Page 15
Page 16
Page 17
Making the most of Wildlife
Making the most of Landscape
Making the most of Local products
Making the most of Heritage
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Encouraging car-free visits Page 18
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Return to
contents page
Go to start of
previous tool
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next tool
Creating time-bound itineraries Page 19
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Creating experience-led itineraries Page 22
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FAQ’s Page 24
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Rural Tourism Business Toolkit
Local Distinctiveness?
Local distinctiveness is what makes one place different from another. It’s the composite of a place’s
assets; the landmarks and sights, the landscape, wildlife, built heritage, traditions, food, festivals,
myths and language.
Why local distinctiveness matters to visitors
Visitors increasingly want the ‘local’ experience, to really experience places, meet ‘real’ people,
‘do’ as well as ‘see’ and not just be ‘tourists’. They want to understand and appreciate the essential
character of a place, learn something and, importantly have something to share with others when
they return home.
How local distinctiveness can benefit your business
Longer stays & increased local spend
Forcing visitors to slow down and do more, bringing increased income into the local area
A more memorable experience
Providing something with real character makes visitors more likely to recommend and return.
For more on the concept of local distinctiveness, see: http://commonground.org.uk/about/
Where you should be before you begin
Before you use any of the information and tools in this section, we would suggest you have an
understanding of the following:
Clear objectives for your business
What you need and are looking to achieve
A clear understanding of your target audiences
Who they are, where they are and what they want
A clear understanding of your offer
What you have to give them that will make them spend time and money with you.
If you‘re unsure on any of the above, check out Part one of the Toolkit – Getting Started. It may
also help to have worked through Part Three - Working Together, so you have some idea of what
and who else is within your locality.
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Contents Introduction
This toolkit is an in-depth resource but it cannot address every specific need. Therefore feel free to
tailor the guidance or use it as a starting point to research further for your own business.
Also remember - things change, websites disappear and new trends arrive, use this toolkit
alongside your own research to ensure you are right up to date...
Disclaimer
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Understanding your place
What you should be looking for...
It goes without saying you should work with what is within you local area. However, you should be
focusing on what you can effectively use as part of your business. It’s also important to view the
assets through the perspective of a visitor. What may seem everyday and humdrum to you could be
the trigger that makes them visit, stay longer or return.
Use the checklists below to evaluate the experiences, places and businesses you find. They are split
into core and additional criteria.
The Core Criteria:
If you answer ‘no’ to any of these then it’s not something you should be looking for.
Is it (or could it be) relevant or interesting to my customers?
Is it complementary to my business offer?
Does it epitomise some of the special qualities of the local area?
Is it /can it be made into an actual experience people can undertake?
Additional/Useful Criteria:
These are optional but help frame your thinking and identify elements and experiences that will be
really effective in inspiring visitors...
Is it exclusive or hard to access if you aren’t in the know?
Is it quirky, weird or perhaps unexpected for this area?
Can it be done outside of the main visitor season?
Can visitors get ‘hands-on’ and involved with the experience?
Is it something currently trending or that taps into current cultural ‘coolness’?
Does it give visitors the chance to learn something?
Does it align with existing or well-known brands or personas of the area?
Keep these criteria in mind as you undertake research into your area to make sure you are
including things you can use effectively.
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Understanding your place
Researching your local area
Too often we overlook what’s right on our doorstep or focus on the obvious. For businesses
this is missing a trick, as knowing your place intimately is vital to be able to understand local
distinctiveness and use it effectively as a tool.
Getting Started
Make life easy for yourself by setting parameters in at least two key areas before diving into
gathering data.
1. Define your ‘area’
Define the extent of the area you intend to focus on. You are looking for a boundary that will make
sense to your visitor, but it does not necessarily have to have any hard rules. It could include:
Administrative - county / district / parish / town boundary
Landscape distinction - National Park / AONB
Geography - specific portion of coastline, range of hills etc
Distance - everything within 10 miles for example
Using these criteria (or any subdivision of them) as a base can help but remember its likely these
‘lines’ will mean little to your visitors, so be fluid in including/excluding things on either side.
2. Define your parameters
It’s entirely possible at this stage that you simply investigate everything of relevance in that area.
However, to keep things focused, it’s best to define some parameters as to what you are looking for.
You should include:
Tourism Provision Vital Information Other Elements
Accommodation & places to
stay
Transport information
Pre-booked courses and
learning experiences
Places to eat & drink Local information points
History, traditions, culture,
legends (the more ephemeral
things)
Activities (both organised and
self guided)
Key local websites or
publications
Local products & producers
(including food & drink)
Attractions & places of interest
(paying and free)
Local or independent retailers
Events & Festivities
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Plan your research
Essentially you can undertake three forms of research to help understand your place:
Third-party research
Before you do lots of original work it’s always
worth contacting local organisations and
reviewing what they have already compiled:
Local authorities, Destination Management
Organisations (DMOs) and Protected
Landscapes (National Parks & AONB’s) will
all have information relevant to your area.
They may also have itineraries or themed
packages outlining experiences, as well as
being a fantastic point of contact for advice
and networking guidance.
Trade bodies or sector-specific promotional or awareness-raising groups e.g. CAMRA - The
Campaign for Real Ale or Sustrans. These organisations can put you in touch with members in a
given area and may have specific guidance and information.
Specific interest groups or organisations like The Ramblers, local historical societies, Wildlife
Trusts, cycling groups, community partnerships etc. These are all experts in their fields.
Somerset Specialities
Understanding your place
Desk research
It’s always worth undertaking some desk
research of your own: you will come at things
from your own angle and may pick up facts
others have missed. Try:
Start with the Wikipedia page for your
local area
Check out the reviews and tips for your
local area on TripAdvisor or Virtual Tourist
Google is your friend: make the most of
search (great tips here) and Google maps
Browse sites like Flickr and Youtube to see
what others are sharing
Find local guidebooks and look for the
extra titbits beyond the norm that they
mention
For more in-depth digging head to the
local studies section of your nearest library
Field research
Nothing beats actual first-hand experience
of somewhere, and you’ll be able to use your
local assets more successfully if you can talk
from experience of being there or doing it
yourself. Try:
Arranging visits to other businesses to see
‘behind the scenes’
Organise to meet ‘experts’ at attractions,
sites of interest or activities
Have a discussion (or book a local tour)
with a blue badge or other local guide
Make a point of visiting other businesses as
a ‘visitor’ (that includes public transport!)
Take photos / videos & pick up leaflets/
flyers wherever you go - all aides to
memory...
Image courtesy of Ian Brodie & Somerset County Council
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Compiling a Product Audit
Researching local distinctiveness can produce an awful lot of interesting and useful information. For
future use it’s helpful to keep it all in one place and catalogued effectively.
This tool provides a framework for compiling information and is simplest kept on a dedicated
spreadsheet, with the different types of product on different worksheets to make things easy:
Accommodation & Food and Drink
Sites of interest & Attractions
Shops & Local Producers
Events & Festivities
Pre-booked activities & courses
Promoted Routes (walking & cycling)
Visitor information (points and sources)
Transport information & businesses
Suggested basic structure for business entries.:
Company Type Address Phone Website Contact Notes
Oakcroft B&B
1 Village St
Ruralplace
01234
567891
www... Mr Smith
4* thatched cottage
offers cooking courses
If you record walking & cycling routes you will need a different format e.g.
Route Name Start Finish Distance Type Website Notes
Rural Walk
village car
park
village car
park
4 miles Circular www...
Great views and passes
nature reserve
For transport record the relevant info on each type
Station Operator Line Service Days Website Notes
Village
station
Traincompany
London to
local town
Mon-Sun www...
1 train per hour
on Sundays
Bus Route Operator Local Stops Terminus Service Days Website Notes
23x Buscompany
village green
opp pub
Local town Mon-Sat www...
No Sunday
service
Don’t feel you need to fill in every single box or add every business in your given area. Focus on the
things you think are most useful - but do make a note of why they are useful in the ‘notes’ section.
Understanding your place
Part 4 ~ Local Distinctiveness
Finchingfield, Essex...
Image courtesy of Visit Essex
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Bringing it to life for visitors
Making local distinctiveness relevant for visitors is no easy challenge. They need to be able to grasp
and understand the key ideas and headlines, which need to presented in a succinct and easy-to-
digest manner for it to resonate with and entice them.
Don’t reinvent the wheel!
The challenge of making sense of a place is one faced by plenty of organisations bigger than
you. Therefore, before starting look and see what is already available, National Parks, DMO’s,
local authorities and other tourism management organisations will likely have guidance on what
is special about a place and how this should be communicated and developed for the visitor
audience. Look for:
Sense of Place or shared identity toolkits
Destination marketing or brand toolkits or guides
Tourism strategies or Destination Management Plans
Doing it the hard way...
It may be that no work of this kind has been undertaken for your area, or that you are focusing very
locally, or perhaps you overlap several areas and need to make sense of it. If so there are actually
quite simple steps to take:
Defining what’s special
Bring your evidence base together
You will need to have a solid picture of what’s available and important to your local area
before starting. (see the previous tool - Understanding your place).
Think from a visitor perspective
Set out the important attributes and assets your place has on the following framework:
1
2
Tangible Assets Intangible Assets
Physical things your place has e.g.
Built heritage
Retail offer
Landscape & wildlife
Events & Festivals
Food & Produce
Visitor Attractions
Activities
Emotional or non-physical things e.g.
Welcome & helpfulness
Safety
Ease & lack of stress
Providing inspiration
Peace & tranquillity
Sense of community
Sense of discovery and exploration
Be as specific as you can and apply the following criteria before you put them down:
Would/could our key audience be interested in this?
Is it something visitors can actually experience?
Is it realistic and practical to utilise for visitors?
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Part 4 ~ Local Distinctiveness
Focus on the key elements
Once you have laid these out then go back over them and mark
those that are most important to get across and group together the assets that are similar
3
By doing so you should start to see certain key themes emerging. These will be generic e.g.
‘opportunities for outdoor activities’, or ‘delicious local food and drink’, but that’s the point.
Ideally aim for no more than four or five to keep things manageable.
Pull the structure together
At this point you have almost all the ingredients so it’s a case of putting them together in a
structured format under each theme. The simple format is:
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Element Theme
Detail and story of the
overall experience
Businesses where
experience takes place
What it
includes
Digestible and distilled
overview
Annotation and
evidence that makes
the theme relevant to
this place
Specific examples of
how the theme can be
experienced
example
Delicious local food &
drink
23 local cheeses
Some of the best
orchards in the country
The White Horse Pub
Marsh Farm Cidery
The Cottage Dairy
example
Great outdoor activities
for those of all abilities
150 miles of footpaths
Extreme sport options
Accessible beach breaks
Northcoast Way Trail
Dirtrax Mountain biking
Riptide surf school
example
Accessible history and
heritage for all
Visible Roman remains
Traditional dishes
always on the menu
Vinordunum Villa
Village Musuem
The White Horse Pub
Once you have this, write it down clearly and keep it to hand. This is the ultimate framework of
what makes your place special and should be kept in mind as you work through how to use it.
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Choosing how best to use it...
If you already know why your area is special and have the evidence base of experiences and assets
to back that up, the big question becomes ‘how do I use this for MY business?’
1. Informational or promotional use
The simplest use of this information is as context
in your communications activity: by tying your
business to the surrounding offer, you give more
impact to your existing communications and
potentially open doors to a wider audience of
interest. Consider:
Including this information in your offer (see
Part 1 of the Toolkit) and core marketing
messages.
Looking for marketing opportunities around
the theme for your business
Using it as contextual copy or inspiration on your website
Using it as inspiration or subject matter for social media posts
Using it to form the basis of articles on e-newsletters and updates
Using it for PR hooks to gain attention or as leverage for articles into new publications
Featuring information and images in print or in-situ for your visitors once they arrive
For any usage, make sure you follow the checklist below:
Using local distinctiveness
Is the link between your business and wider information clearly defined?
Have you included a clear Call to Action that involves your business?
Have you provided details about how to access any wider experiences?
2. As the basis for working with others in the locality
Another way of utilising this information is proactively making connections with others to either:
Consistently promote the wider offer, thereby shouting with a louder voice
e.g. develop a consistent bank of copy or image library to use
Develop joint services to make it easier for visitors to experience the special qualities
e.g. transfer services, staggered opening times etc
Develop specific joint promotions between you
e.g. discounts for referrals or 2-for-1 incentives
For more information on planning any of these see Part 3 of the Toolkit - Working Together.
Walking Norfolk
Image courtesy of Norfolk County Council
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Using local distinctiveness
3. Becoming a local champion
Armed with local knowledge and expertise many businesses choose to become local ambassadors,
volunteering themselves to be the voice for an area and rallying others. You could consider:
Becoming an area expert online on tools such as TripAdvisor or Virtual Tourist
Literally become an ambassador with
customers and the general public . Visit Kent
run the Kent Greeters scheme (www.visitkent.
co.uk/kent-greeters) but you could arrange
something less formal for your area.
Organise training and familiarisation trips
for other businesses on distinctive elements
Take the lead to maintain the area, e.g. litter
picks or campaigning for conservation, etc.
Remember - a single bad experience can colour a visitors experience of the whole area.
Therefore do what you can to maintain the quality of the experience and encourage others to do
the same.
Old Rectory Hotel
Old Rectory Hotel
In addition to their green policy and guest
charter, reflecting the importance of green
and sustainable activity locally, the Old
Rectory runs a visitor gifting scheme in
conjunction with a local wildlife safari
operator. By doing so they directly support
local causes relevant to the locally
distinct qualities of the area.
Find out more
Case Study
4. Extending what you already do as a business
The final way of using local distinctiveness is to make active changes or extensions to your business.
By doing so you align yourself with the values and assets that make your wider context special.
For more information on developing new products and services please view the following tool -
Introducing new ideas to your business
Kent Greeters..
Part 4 ~ Local Distinctiveness
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Extending what you do as a business
One of the very best ways of utilising local distinctiveness is to incorporate the qualities and assets
of the locality into what you do as a business. However, implementing a new service or product
into your business is a big investment of time, effort and possibly money. It’s therefore sensible to
evaluate any idea before leaping into it.
The Criteria
Use the checklist below to evaluate potential viability of ideas as products for your business.
Introducing new ideas
Does it reflect an important aspect of your local area?
If it doesn’t, could the idea be amended so it does? Great ideas shouldn’t be ignored.
Will the activity significantly impact on the asset in your locality?
If yes, then do not pursue this idea.
Does it complement your existing business?
If not, remember you will have to work harder to help customers associate it with you
Do you know if your current customers will see it as valuable?
If no, you will potentially need to target a new audience or develop taster/pilot ideas first
Do you have the resources currently to put this into action?
If no, then tread carefully and consider working with others or piloting first
Can you sustain it once implemented?
If not, think carefully if it’s worthwhile or make sure you manage customer expectations
Have you got the necessary channels / expertise to promote it?
If this is a new area, factor in time/cost and a dedicated plan to raise awareness of it
Can you easily track how effective/useful it will be?
Knowing the impact it has made is vital in future planning
The Old Cider House
The Old Cider House
A B&B like no other! Starting with just a
micro-brewery the team behind the Old
Cider House have expanded and extended
their offer to include hands-on brewery
breaks, ale trails and workshops where
you can brew your own!
Find out more
Case Study
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Introducing new ideas Wildlife
Making the most of flora & fauna
Wildlife can be a big draw for visitors, particularly with the interest generated by television
programmes and the wider awareness of conservation. However, viewing wildlife generally requires
specific guidance on where to look and indeed how to recognise what you are looking at. It is also
one of the most fragile elements of any landscape and therefore requires careful handling and
education of the visitor audience.
Getting Started
It always pays to get in touch with experts in the field before starting, try reaching:
National Park Teams - www.nationalparks.gov.uk
Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Teams - www.landscapesforlife.org.uk
The Wildlife Trusts - www.wildlifetrusts.org
RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) - www.rspb.org.uk
Ideas to consider
Providing spotters / identification guides on
site for your guests
Creating or providing dedicated on-site
observation areas (could be simple or
complex)
Habitat building on site
Providing conservation or educational
information for visitors
Providing wildlife web-cams or spotter
updates through your website
Incorporating wildlife spotter updates
into e-newsletters or updates to previous
customers
Train yourself or your staff to be experts in
the local wildlife
Provide guided walks, safaris or
experiences from your business (make
the most of seasonal opportunities and
experiences at different times of day for
greater impact e.g. bat walks)
Provide signposting to local experts
providing experiences (e.g. guided walks,
photography courses, talks, etc)
A visitor giving scheme to support wildlife
projects on site or to support local causes
Sponsor or get involved with local wildlife
causes to showcase your credibility on the
subject
Porlock Rutting Weekends
Porlock Rutting Weekends
The Porlock visitors centre organises an
annual dedicated weekend package for
the Red Deer rut on Exmoor. The package
includes spotting trips with expert guides,
dawn safaris, accommodation and oodles
of local produce.
Find out more
Case Study
Image courtesy of Arturo de Frias Marques
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Landscape
15
Making the most of your surroundings
Landscape and scenery generally provides the backbone of the special qualities of your local area,
and for visitors, will form the base of almost all the activities they undertake. However landscape
is also sensitive and can be prone to degradation from unchecked visitor contact. It is also generally
not particularly well understood so presents a significant opportunity for education.
Getting Started
It always pays to get in touch with experts in the field before starting, try reaching:
National Park Teams - www.nationalparks.gov.uk
Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Teams - www.landscapesforlife.org.uk
Local Authority countryside management teams
Ideas to consider
Providing on-site interpretation of
landscape and flora
Providing conservation or educational
information for visitors
Creating viewpoints and lookouts (views
from windows as well as dedicated spots)
Providing information on self-guided walks
and activities from your business
Developing dark-sky activities (telescopes
for guest use, talks and expert tuition)
Providing volunteer opportunities to
maintain landscape on site
Train yourself or your staff to be experts in
the local landscape
Provide guided walks, talks & experiences
(make the most of seasonal changes)
Opportunities for creative activities
(photography workshops, art courses, etc)
Hands-on learning and courses in
landscape maintenance
Bushcraft and wild living/camping
experiences
Utilise local building materials and provide
interpretation
Signposting to local experts providing
experiences (e.g. guided walks, courses,
talks, etc)
Visitor giving scheme to support
environmental projects on site or to
support local causes
Sponsor local environmental causes to
showcase your credibility on the subject
D’une Ile à l’autre
D’une Ile à l’autre
Already operating a successful B&B in
Amiens, the new eco-cabins at D’une
Ile à l’autre provide an extension to the
business into the Amiens marshes. Each
offers access to the water and a chance to
get back to nature in the Somme.
Find out more
Case Study
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Landscape
16
Helping visitors uncover specialities
Local products, in particular local food, have seen a massively increased prominence in recent
times, so much so that they can be the sole draw for a visit by themselves. Seasonal food, with the
attributes of low food miles, bring freshly picked and grown traditionally, will attract visitors and
enhance a business’s offer.
But think wider than just food & drink: there are plenty of great examples of other local products,
including arts and crafts, that can also contribute to the character of an area.
Getting Started
It always pay to get in touch with experts in the field before starting, try reaching:
Localfoods.org.uk- www.localfoods.org.uk
Local Farmers Markets - www.local-farmers-markets.co.uk
Ideas to consider
Local Products
Leading by example by sourcing and buying
local within your business and promoting
the usage of products to your customers
Offering products from the local area for
sale to your visitors
Providing local directories of producers and
outlets
Listing local markets and offering
dedicated trips to visit them
Offering tasting and try-before-you buy
evenings, events or festivals
Using local materials on site and providing
interpretation
Growing or cultivating your own products
Showcasing local crafts
Creating self-guided food trails for the
local area
Organising guided tours, walks and
experiences for your customers
Volunteer opportunities to help grow and
cultivate produce on site
Courses and learning experiences (e.g. bee-
keeping, brewing, coppicing or scything)
Bringing in experts for demonstrations (e.g.
green wood working, traditional cookery)
Offering bushcraft and foraging courses
Considering local loyalty schemes to
promote purchases of local produce
Cromer Crab Festival
Cromer Crab Festival
Since the closure of the Cromer Crab
Company, the twin towns of Cromer &
Sheringham have pulled together an
annual festival in May to celebrate the
humble crustacean and extend the visitor
season.
Find out more
Case Study
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Local Heritage
17
Sharing and preserving the past
Understanding, learning and interacting with the past, and seeing how it influences the present is a
core part of any local identity. However, although it forms a key part of almost every experience a
visitor will have in your area, heritage is a broad church that can encompass many different things,
depending on your locality.
Getting Started
Do bear in mind that heritage may by fragile and could be impacted by excessive interest from
visitors. If in doubt seek expert help in your locality for advice before embarking on any idea.
English Heritage - www.english-heritage.org.uk/about/
Local Authority planning, conservation or environment teams
Ideas to consider
Providing information on or interpretation
to heritage features within the local area
Organising guided, walks, talks and
experiences form your business
Arranging expert talks and visits
Providing advice and information for
genealogical research
Document and collect local information
and stories on particular subjects and
present to your customers (or encourage
them to contribute)
Visitor giving scheme to support heritage
conservation locally
Sponsor local heritage causes to showcase
your credibility on the subject
Volunteer opportunities for conservation or
preservation activities
Signposting to local experts and interest
groups
Opportunities to try traditional crafts,
techniques or activities at events on site
Performance based events (poetry / dance
/ song /plays etc).
Utilise digital tools to provide heritage
experiences (e.g. geo-locating old photos
on Flickr)
Arrange traditional or historical meals
Provide sales of gifts / products / cookery
books / how-to-guides that reflect the
heritage
Support local events and festivals (help
your visitors to attend as well)
The Five Bells Inn
The Five Bells in Brabourne takes heritage
seriously, focussing on events that
showcase local culture. They run regular
craft fairs, acoustic music nights and
ensure all their artisans and performers
are from less than 25 miles away.
Find out more
Case Study
The Five Bells Inn
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Local Heritage
18
Enjoying the countryside responsibly
The vast majority of guests to rural locations will travel by car. By doing so they are contributing to
congestion, pollution, noise and parking issues in areas that often cannot support. or are sensitive
to. them. Actions we can take to mitigate these impacts, promote education and make it easier for
visitors to make a choice of non-car transport will all help maintain the qualities and assets of our
local areas.
Make sure to get in touch and coordinate with local organisations and groups before you embark on
these initiatives as there may well be existing schemes you can support or join rather than starting
from scratch.
Ideas to consider:
Car-free visits
Providing local transport information both
before visit and in situ
Offering discounts or incentives to public
transport users
Offering pick-ups or drop-offs at stations,
ports or airports for your customers
Providing information on key walking and
cycling routes
Offering secure parking areas whilst
customers are with you
Offering secure bike parking & facilities
such as showers
Running or facilitating cycle hire or other
equipment to promote non-car use
Offer car-free itineraries for popular
activities in the local area
Facilitate access to local travelcard
schemes or vouchers and discounts
Provide an on-site carbon calculator and
other educational material
Provide free access to travel websites for
in-situ guests
Support local sustainable transport
schemes (e.g. electric bikes or cars)
Work with other businesses to provide
transfers between you (e.g. between
accommodation and local pubs/
restaurants)
The Cake Escape
The Cake Escape
22 cafés throughout Essex participated
in a scheme to get more people cycling.
Participants download a passport, cycle
to any of the cafés signed up to the
project and earn a reward stamp, four of
which net them a free slice of cake!
Find out more
Case Study
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Time-bound itineraries
19
Showcasing the best of your area in a day
Although we might be familiar with the qualities and assets of our local area, we cannot assume
our visitors have the same knowledge. However with a little thought we can easily provide
inspiration and information, structure a suggested experience and provide ‘chef’s recommendations’
of what to do and where to go.
Given that most visitor stays in a destination will be bound by a time frame, using a chronological
model is a sensible place to start. Using this method allows you to offer ‘a great day out in’ or ‘24
hours in’ for your local area.
Building an experience
Gather the evidence
Collect a bank of experiences, businesses and activities visitors can experience. These are
the options you will use the itinerary to connect. You may not use all of them but it helps to
have a pool to mix and match from. See the first section on Understanding your local area.
Define the canvas
It is recommended to start with a full day, a manageable time for a visitor to review and
absorb. It’s also an easy period to balance in terms of content and you can always append
extra days to make longer itineraries.
Itineraries work more effectively when they have a theme or focus beyond just time. This will
also help you decide what to include. Consider the key themes of your area (see section 2 )
and your likely visitors, but you could consider any of the following:
Heritage & history
The great outdoors (landscape & low impact activity)
Active (high impact or adventurous activities)
Families (experiences catering for younger children)
Romantic (for couples)
Food & drink
1
2
Layout the day
To start planning the itinerary - layout a day as blank canvas:
3
Early AM B’fast AM Lunch PM Dinner Eve
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Part 4 ~ Local Distinctiveness
Plot activities
Then simply start filling in the blanks and plotting activities
relevant to the theme on the timeline (this can be effective if done if laid out on a large piece
of paper with activities on individual post-it notes).
4
Plot your activities...
Check opening hours / seasonality and
make sure it’s possible to undertake the
experiences in that order
Do think about constructing itineraries for
different seasons as experiences will differ
Don’t be afraid to include pre-booking only
experiences, but make sure to make this
clear
Try and balance the day (e.g. active AM
and an easier PM)
Don’t neglect meal times, as these can be
key to the experience too!
Early morning or evening activities often
have a distinct pull visitors may not expect
Don’t just focus on in-depth activities -a
quick stop at a view point or a browse in
a specific shop can be a valuable addition
not to be missed.
Focus on hands-on, different, exclusive and
quirky experiences, not just the obvious
Put yourself in the visitor’s shoes - what
would inspire you?
Useful things to consider
East Kent Country Breaks
East Kent Country Breaks
Visit Kent led the work to develop a series
of themed itineraries for 8 rural areas in
East Kent. Each Country Break provided
over 20 in-depth itineraries developed
in conjunction with local experts to
showcase their areas.
Find out more
Case Study
Image courtesy of Explore Kent
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Write up the itinerary
Once you are happy with the content and order then it’s a case of
writing up the final version. There are no hard-and-fast rules but do consider the following:
5
Have you written for your audience (look at style and tone of voice especially)?
Have you written to the chosen theme and been an enthusiastic expert about it?
Have you put a fun & knowledgeable personality into your writing?
Have you kept it succinct and brief (an absolute maximum limit of 350 words)?
Have you provided links and details for all the experiences & businesses mentioned?
Have you offered ideas to extend or customise the itinerary?
Have you included basic information (start point and directions as a minimum)?
Time-bound itineraries
Presenting & using
You can just use the text you’ve created, but itineraries work well as a self-contained entity,
which means putting some thought into how to present them.
6
Images matter: they will bring your
itinerary to life, so look for high-quality
ones
Itineraries work well as pdf files, allowing
them to be downloaded and printed off
If using on the web consider a teaser page
allowing download rather than simply
placing all the content as a web page in its
own right
If you include them on a website, clearly
position them in a separate section and
make a feature of it
Using them online allows effective use of
video to support the content
If using a pdf make sure to include your
web address and a clear call-to-action
Use social media to promote and tease
Consider placing printed copies at visitor
touch points at your business (in rooms, at
reception, etc)
Tell others you have done it and get it
shared around
Ideas to consider
This is only one suggested method of creating an itinerary so feel free to tailor and customise
to fit your needs and the strengths of your area. Alternatively take a look at the next tool for a
different method...
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Time-bound itineraries Experience Led Itineraries
Focussing on the highlights
Rather than using a defined time unit as the base framework for a structured experience, an
alternative option is to craft an itinerary around a series of highlights and then fit the timeframe to
it. This has the advantage of including all the essentials but requires different presentation so that
visitors can digest it.
Building the Experience
Gather the evidence
As with the time-bound itineraries you need to start with a bank of experiences, businesses
and activities dedicated to visitors that the itinerary will connect together. See the first
section on Understanding your local area.
Define the highlights
The first step in creating an experience-led itinerary is to define the key highlights to be
included. It’s recommended to pick no more than five as this is a manageable number for
visitors to relate to and could be fitted into day or weekend.
Itineraries work more effectively when they have a theme or focus beyond just what’s
interesting. This will also help you decide what to include. Consider the key themes of your
area and your likely visitors, but also consider those mentioned in the time-bound model.
1
2
Highlight 1.
Highlight 3.
Highlight 2.
Highlight 4.
Highlight 5.
OxTrails
OxTrails
During the creation of the dedicated
smartphone app for Southern Oxfordshire,
highlight itineraries were created for each
of the major towns and villages, each
showcasing and threading together the
highlights in the surrounding area.
Find out more
Case Study
Image courtesy of South Oxfordshire District Council
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Join the dots...
Write a short overview of the highlight itself and how it’s relevant
to the audience or theme.
The final step is to compile a narrative to order and link the highlights together over a
visit. Aim to keep this as short and succinct as possible, as the ‘stars’ are the highlights
themselves.
Consider the following in writing these sections:
Keep the highlight descriptions down to around 25 words absolute maximum.
The narrative can be longer but should still be relatively short at about 100 words or so
All the tips from the time-bound model on writing the itinerary apply here, too.
3
Presenting & using
As with time-bound itineraries you can just use the text you’ve created, but itineraries work
well as a self-contained entity which requires some thought on how to present them.
4
Images matter, they will bring your
itinerary to life - look for high quality ones
Make sure to provide at least one image
of each of the highlights and make sure to
link the images to the descriptive text for
that highlight
Consider adding a map to show
representative locations from each other
Itineraries work well as pdf files, allowing
them to be downloaded and printed off
If using on the web consider a teaser page
allowing download rather than simply
placing all the content as a web page in its
own right
If you include them on a website, clearly
position them in a separate section and
make a feature of it
Using them online allows effective use of
video to support the content
If using a pdf make sure to include your
web address and a clear call-to-action
Use social media to promote and tease
Consider placing printed copies at visitor
touch points at your business (in rooms, at
reception, etc)
Tell others you have done it and get it
shared around
Ideas to consider
Experience Led itineraries
Chapeldown Vineyards
Image courtesy of Visit Kent
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Experience Led itineraries FAQs
1. Am I in a protected landscape?
18% of the UK Countryside is designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and a
further 6% is designated as a National Park. You can find comprehensive maps at:
www.landscapesforlife.org.uk
www.nationalparks.gov.uk
2. What is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB)
An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is a landscape which is considered so precious
that it is protected for the nation. Designation seeks to protect and enhance natural beauty
whilst recognising the needs of the local community and economy. This includes the protection of
flora, fauna and geological as well as landscape features. The conservation of archaeological,
architectural and vernacular features in the landscape is also important. They have the same legal
protection for their landscapes as National Parks, but don’t have their own authorities for planning
control and other services.
3. What is a National Park?
National Parks are protected areas of countryside that include villages and towns. They are
protected because of their beautiful countryside, wildlife and cultural heritage. People live and work
in the National Parks and the farms, villages and towns are protected along with the landscape and
wildlife. National Parks welcome visitors and provide opportunities for everyone to experience enjoy
and learn about their special qualities. They have an authority to help look after them, including
planning controls.
4. How do I get to know and work with other tourism
businesses in my area?
Essentially, do your research! Start with local business groups such as; Chambers of Commerce, ask
other like-minded businesses which groups they participate in or do some online searches in places
like LinkedIn or Facebook for groups meeting near you.
5. Who do I need to consult before implementing a new idea
or service in my business?
If you intend to undertake any action that represents an investment of time and especially money,
or could have an impact on the business you need to gain agreement from those with a stake. This
means any other directors, your shareholders and any investors you have. If the investment or risk is
significant you may need a written agreement in order to proceed.
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FAQs
6. Will working in a local partnership help
me access grant funding?
It will depend on the specific fund you are trying to access. However working in collaboration with
others, sharing the risk and benefit is generally looked upon more favourably than an application
that only benefits a single business. More specifically undertaking activities that preserve, enhance
or promote locally distinct assets may well be more appealing to funders too.
7. What’s the difference between sense of place and local
distinctiveness?
Local distinctiveness sums up the assets and qualities that make a place special, Sense of Place is
your feelings for the place and is therefore much more personal and individual. For now focus on
understanding, getting across and utilising the distinct qualities of your area, you’ll form your own
Sense of Place as you do and so will your visitors.
8. How can I find out if someone has already developed a
locally distinct offer for my place?
Look through the B2B sections of websites for any local Protected Landscapes, DMO’s, local
authorities and other tourism management organisations, they will likely have guidance on what is
special about a place and how this should be communicated and developed for the visitor audience.
Look for; Sense of Place or shared identity toolkits, Destination marketing or brand toolkits, Tourism
strategies or Destination Management Plans.
9. How can I contribute to my place’s Tripadvisor page?
Essentially you can only post directly to a destination page if you are the owner. Therefore you can
either contact the owner of the destination section, it will likely be someone at your DMO or local
tourism group, or there will be a contact on the page. Alternatively post comments on the page
and wait for the owner to get in touch. If there seems to be no owner, get in touch with TripAdvisor
to claim the page yourself, or finally visit the page as a visitor and share photos, reviews and
local information of benefit to you (but remember to be transparent about who you are and don’t
oversell your own business).
10. Where can I find out about Visitor Giving Schemes?
VisitEngland have created a comprehensive toolkit on Visitor Giving, including advice on the business
model, tax, using technology and plenty of case studies. See:
www.visitengland.org/england-tourism-industry/DestinationManagersResources/visitor_giving.aspx
FAQs
Rural Tourism
Business
Toolkit
Rural Tourism
Business
Toolkit
About this toolkit
This .pdf is the fourth part of a fully featured resource packed full with useful
information and advice for new and existing rural tourism businesses.
This toolkit has been created as part of the COOL Tourism Project by the COOL
Partnership and tourism development charity Hidden Britain.
The project is being delivered with the support of the European cross-border co-
operation Programme INTERREG IV A, France (Channel) – England, co-funded by the
European Regional Development Fund.
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