Cheltenham’s visitor economy is under performing in comparison to other heritage destinations. The value of tourism for Cheltenham in 2017 was £159 million in comparison to £403 million in Bath. In late 2016 Marketing Cheltenham and Cheltenham BID, led by Kelly Ballard, commissioned research to find out what people thought of Cheltenham as a visitor destination and whether it was desirable as a place to visit. The results showed ‘indifference’ about Cheltenham and the reason for visiting would be mainly for horse racing. In terms of desirability to visit, of the 250 surveyed it didn’t rank as a first place to visit and was 73rd on a list as a second preference against the likes of Oxford and Bath.
Vision and Ambition
The 5-year tourism strategy has ambitions to grow the visitor economy by 5% year on year. It has several aims including developing working partnerships both within and outside Cheltenham, to create a working business model, support the promotion and development of experiences and take Cheltenham to market through a cost-effective marketing strategy.
For the strategy to succeed, Cheltenham needs to stand apart from its destination peers. This has led to a review of the way we present Cheltenham the visitor brand. This began with a workshop in 2016 which fed into the current Place strategy. Based on this work, Marketing Cheltenham have recently taken this a stage further with a smaller working group and employed the help of branding agency Little Big Agency. This has led to a new brand being developed primarily for VisitCheltenham and its communication however, we are hoping that it will have a positive effect on presenting the lifestyle and desirability as a place to live, study and work.
New Brand – Visit Cheltenham – The Festival Town
We wanted to ensure the new brand was rooted in the town’s spa and Regency heritage – a place for leisure and pleasure and as the place to come and refresh your mind, body and soul. Only now, our healing waters have been replaced by the town’s refreshing festival vibes.
Festivals are a major strength of the town and one of the key points of difference that Cheltenham has over other destinations. Cheltenham has world famous literary, jazz, science and music festivals however in total it has around 25 festivals that each successfully reach niche audiences. For a town with only 117,000 residents, it punches well above its weight. Coupled with our superb shopping and dining offer, we have a real and unique opportunity to position Cheltenham as the place for escape, enjoyment and discovering new experiences.
Whilst our Regency Heritage is extremely important as well as our proximity to the Cotswolds, it was felt that Cheltenham needs to position itself to appeal to different generations. The Festival Town crosses generations and reaches a growing audience of interested people.
This is an exciting step in Cheltenham’s branding and will allow the town to promote a key part of its offering. This will help target an international market, with the aim to drive more visits, increase footfall and boost the visitor economy.
Roll out of the new brand
As part of the rebrand Little Big Agency have created a new Visit Cheltenham logo which will encompass the vibrancy of the festivals it has to offer.
Marketing Cheltenham presented the brand, its ethos and intention to the business community at the Gloucestershire Business Show on the 21st May at Cheltenham Town Hall – hear the podcast. Later it was announced at an official launch on the 10th July. As part of the rebrand, you will see the Visit Cheltenham website has been rebranded. You’ll also see new Festival Town banners and Tourist Information Points around town. For more information on the rebrand, how members can get involved and the asset pack with logos, wording and images, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org