Marketing Manchester activity update: August 2019

After what was undoubtedly one of our busiest starts to the fiscal year – read more about our activity in April, May, June and July – and as we continue into summer following another fantastic Manchester International Festival, an incredible Cricket World Cup and a football tour in China; our focus now turns to promoting Greater Manchester’s summer offering.

If you’d asked us several years ago how tourism fared in Greater Manchester over summer, you would have been given varying answers that equated to it generally being a quiet period for international visitors and hotels, whilst attractions filled up with family day visitors. In recent years that trend has shifted as more top-quality events have entered into the calendar and we’ve changed to an ‘always on’ message with our marketing. August occupancy levels in Manchester city centre last year hit records for the month, with all measures – overall (81%), weekend (90%) and weekday (77%), exceeding previous levels for the month of August.

And there’s certainly lots to get behind again this year.

There’s our family travel campaign; special activity hooked to the Peterloo Massacre 200 year commemorative events on 16 August for which we’ve made a wonderful tourism video in partnership with Manchester Histories; more cricket as the Ashes comes to Old Trafford and the Tour of Britain visits every borough in Greater Manchester in early September; work to promote Salford and surrounding areas linked to LS Lowry as the theatrical release of Mrs Lowry & Son, featuring Timothy Spall and Vanessa Redgrave, approaches on 30 August; and there are great festivals to promote right across the region including Rochdale Feel Good Festival and Bolton Food and Drink Festival.

Of course, there’s another huge event taking place in August which is set to fix eyeballs on Manchester worldwide and that’s this year’s Manchester Pride. With a new format featuring several exciting new strands such as Youth Pride MCR and the best ever live music line up featuring Ariana Grande in a poignant return to Manchester for the first time since her One Love Manchester concert back in June 2017.

Our LGBT+ offer is one of our most unique selling points as a city-region, exemplifying a history and heritage of tolerance, a thriving community and the true spirit of Manchester. Manchester Pride is undoubtably the flagship celebration and it’s always a pleasure seeing the city dressed up to mark the occasion. However, it’s a point of pride to remember that our LGBT+ offer is intrinsic and integrated into the living and leisure offer across the region throughout the year; a vibrant nightlife, shopping galore, a thriving youth and cultural scene from the mainstream to the minority, the well-known to the unknown.

That’s what makes it so special and is something to hold on to when you see the vast amounts of media coverage about Manchester Pride later this month. To get in the mood you may be interested in reading some LGBT+ media and blog coverage that we’ve helped to curate via our visiting media programme in recent years: Nomadic Boys, Dopes on the Road, Gay Cities, Travels of Adam, and Passport.


News in brief


Manchester meets Chinese travel trade during MCFC tour

Marketing Manchester, in partnership with VisitBritain and UK Visas and Immigration, worked with Manchester City FC last month to deliver a series of travel trade engagement activities in China to promote holidays to Manchester and the north of England, as well as match day packages and stadium tours. Using Man City’s international friendly games in Nangjing, Shanghai and Hong Kong the activity included: visits to four tour operators in Shanghai (18-19 July); a Wolves vs Man City pre-match reception for 15 guests from major mainstream, boutique and luxury operators (20 July); a workshop for 30 travel agents from Shenzhen and Hong Kong (23 July); and finally some office visits followed by hosting 16 guests to the Kitchee SC vs Man City game (24 July).

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Successful Cricket World Cup engagement wraps

Following on from Manchester’s extensive cricket activity in June – which included four days of events over the weekend of Friday 14 to Monday 17 June as reported last month – the team continued to build on this momentum with activity hooked to the India vs West Indies match on Thursday 27 June. Marketing Manchester invited the owners or senior managers of the leading Destination Management Companies who work with the Indian market to enjoy the game as part of an itinerary that also included visits to attractions in Manchester, Liverpool and the Lake District and a B2B workshop with 1-2-1 appointments with Manchester suppliers and north of England Destination Management Organisations.

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Virgin Atlantic US campaign goes live

Marketing Manchester’s partnership with Virgin Atlantic and VisitBritain continues with the launch of the latest consumer campaign on 1 July. Geo-targeted to Los Angeles and Boston – due to the addition of a new nonstop route from LA and increased frequency from Boston respectively – the campaign incorporates several digital platforms such as Hulu, Adara and Verve, alongside social media channels.

One element of the campaign focuses on influencer content. A partnership with Travel Mindset, saw five influencers visit Manchester, the north of England and North Wales in mid-July for several days. This partnership will culminate in a Twitter chat on 14 August with the campaign set to run until the end of September.

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Business tourism offer promoted at The Meeting Show

Marketing Manchester attended The Meetings Show in London last month along with a contingent of partners – including Manchester Convention Bureau, Marriott, Manchester City, The Lowry Hotel, Hotel Football, Event City and Crowne Plaza and Staybridge Suites Manchester – Oxford Road – all promoting Greater Manchester as the place where great minds meet.

The Meetings Show is the premier event for the inbound and outbound meetings and event industry in the UK, with approximately 5,200 attendees including 900 hosted buyers. The Manchester contingent were able to meet with 131 buyers over two days, with some important business leads obtained.

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Marketing Manchester MD joins Distractions panel session

The launch of the Greater Manchester Music Review at the Distractions music and tech conference included a panel discussion featuring Marketing Manchester’s Managing Director Sheona Southern, who highlighted work Marketing Manchester is doing to support music tourism, including production of a new Manchester music documentary.

Run in parallel with Manchester International Festival, Distractions was organised by Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham and Greater Manchester Combined Authority as a showcase for the future of entertainment. It included a new music showcase hosted by Sound City Manchester in Festival Square.

Other panellists at the GM Music Review launch included Mr Burnham; Sacha Lord, Greater Manchester’s Night-time Economy Advisor; Deborah Williams, Creative Diversity Network; and Dan Parrott, owner of Low Four studios. The launch was chaired by UK Music Chief Executive Michael Dugher, who outlined 10 recommendations to support the music economy in Greater Manchester.

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Hotel occupancy records reached across Greater Manchester in June

June 2019 generated room demand that led to both the city centre and Greater Manchester reaching a record level of occupancy. Peak occupancy levels occurred during; Greater Manchester’s hosting of the Cricket World Cup at Emirates Old Trafford, concerts at the Etihad Stadium and Manchester Arena, Parklife at Heaton Park, the Chartered Institute of Housing conference at Manchester Central, and European Association Conferences hosted by the University of Manchester.

June’s hotel performance figures from data provider STR* continued a strong level of demand for the first half of 2019.  The year-to-date occupancy level for Greater Manchester, of 77%, compares to 76% at the same point last year, with Manchester city centre seeing its YTD at 79%, compared to 78%, despite 850 new rooms entering the marketplace during the second half of 2018.  However, the data reflected challenges around growth for average daily rates, as although growth was evident for Greater Manchester as a whole, average daily rates remained static for Manchester city centre.

*STR is Marketing Manchester’s data provider for hotel performance.  Re-publication or other re-use of this data without the express written permission of STR is strictly prohibited.

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Greater Manchester sees 5% growth in international visits

Data from the International Passenger Survey, undertaken by the Office of National Statistics and supported by VisitBritain, has shown that Greater Manchester experienced a 5% increase in the number of international visits attracted in 2018, on 2017, and increased the number of international visits hosted to 1.6 million.

The data also showed a 7% growth of international visits to Manchester, with only one other city in the top ten seeing a higher level of annual growth – Edinburgh.  The top six cities for international visits were; London, Edinburgh, Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow and Liverpool.

Marketing Manchester is currently preparing an overview of what the latest data means in terms of Greater Manchester’s international market profile, where growth has come from, and how Manchester’s performance as a city compares with other cities in attracting priority markets.  We hope to share this with you in the next update.

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RHS Chelsea sponsorship opportunity

After a successful first year, Manchester is planning to return to the prestigious RHS Chelsea Flower Show with an exciting new iteration of The Manchester Garden, which will be a vision transported back in time from 100 years in the future.

Situated in a Mancunian suburb, our second garden will garden show how future climatic, technological and social trends will direct and determine the way we use our outdoor spaces with Manchester leading the way through the Social Horticulture Revolution, just as it has driven forward revolutions in industry and culture.

We have appointed Wigan-based Warnes McGarr & Co Ltd as our landscape designers and are now looking to talk to any company interested in sponsoring Manchester 2020 Garden at RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

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Greater Manchester Tourism Conference 2019 tickets now on sale

The fourth annual Greater Manchester Tourism Conference will be held on Thursday 17 October 2019 and is a must for anyone working within the tourism and hospitality sector in Greater Manchester and the north of England. It will return to Crowne Plaza & Staybridge Suites Manchester – Oxford Road, following fantastic feedback from delegates last year.

Tickets are now on sale priced at £75 for Marketing Manchester members (£95 for non-members) and are available here. The full format for the day is being finalised; however, as in previous years, you can expect a full programme of high-profile speakers, films, workshops, interviews, Q&A and panel sessions plus short soap box sessions. The event sells out each year so please make sure that you book early to avoid disappointment.

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Recent press coverage wins

Marketing Manchester’s press team carry out a year-round programme of press visits and media engagement to win national and international coverage for Greater Manchester. Below are a few recent highlights that you may like to read and share:

Cricket World Cup 2019: Blue Army takes over Old Trafford for the day – Gulf News (UAE)

Manchester: Beyond Football – ABC Viajes (Spain)

25 Things to See and Do in Manchester – Los Traveleros blog (Spain)

Manchester in two days – Federica Di Nardo blog (Italy)

Manchester: what to visit – Gloria Bombarda blog (Italy)

Best Instagram Spots in Manchester – Gavriela Teisu blog (Netherlands)

Discover these British LGBT landmarks for Pride – London Planner (UK)

The New Order: 48 Hours in Revitalised Manchester – BlackBook (UK)

Arts and culture are flourishing in Northern England and adding £1.4bn to the region’s economy – i News (UK)

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What’s new in Greater Manchester: August 2019

Distributed to consumer travel and leisure media contacts, Marketing Manchester’s monthly What’s New update is an important piece of media relations work to keep journalists and influencers from around the world up to date on the latest developments, openings and trends across the city-region. To view this month’s newsletter, click here.

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