Marketing Manchester activity update: December 2019

It’s been a busy quarter for Marketing Manchester and there is little sign of things slowing down. However, as the festive break hurdles towards us, now is as good a time as any to reflect on some of our achievements this calendar year.

In January we kicked off the year with inspiration from Mayor Andy Burnham’s Future of Greater Manchester event which was packed with pioneering announcements and proposals that showcased the ambition of Greater Manchester and the course that the region aims to take over the next 20 years.

February highlights saw us deliver a campaign in the UAE focused on the lucrative expat market, a hugely successful Chinese New Year campaign and attendance at key sector events including the National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) in Mumbai and the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society conference (HIMSS19) in Orlando.

Our major activity in March was Manchester at MIPIM, in which we celebrated 20 years of consecutive attendance and launched our creative Citizens of Manchester campaign; however, there was plenty of other activity including: a media engagement event in New York to help launch Manchester International Festival; attending the world’s biggest travel trade show ITB Berlin; celebrating English Tourism Week; and delivering our biggest ever Manchester Calling travel trade event. You can read about all these projects and everything we achieved in 2018/19 in the Marketing Manchester Review 18/19.

With April heralding in the new fiscal year our Manchester Convention Bureau jumped straight into projects such as attendance at MeetGB and the submission of nine conference bids, whilst the ground-work for Greater Manchester’s summer of cricket was laid with Marketing Manchester becoming Lancashire Cricket’s Official Destination Partner. Read all news from April news here.

May saw us deliver The Manchester Garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2019, winning silver. While we have decided not to repeat this activity in 2020 it was undoubtably one of the team’s most successful projects of the year in terms of domestic reach, offering the chance to engage visitors to the garden and promote Greater Manchester in an entirely new and innovative way, as a forward-thinking urban city with green ambitions. It also presented a huge media opportunity, which included the city being the focal point of a ten-minute segment during a live broadcast on BBC2. May also saw the team attend the travel trade event Explore GB and support new direct routes to Manchester from Tel Aviv with El Al Airlines and from Los Angeles with Virgin Atlantic. Read all news from May here.

In June we launched a brand-new business tourism strategy, hosted a series of Cricket World Cup events aimed at attracting Indian investment, engaged top-tier media at an event in Los Angeles to support the aforementioned new direct route, and the city was handed the title of ‘Best International Destination’ at Condé Nast Traveller Spain awards in Madrid. Read all news from June here.

Traditionally a quieter month, July 2019 was nothing of the sort as the team hosted several media visits to support the Manchester International Festival, our Virgin Atlantic US campaign went live, the Manchester Convention Bureau attended The Meetings Show, and we met travel trade during Man City’s tour of China. Read all news from July here.

August marked Manchester’s busiest ever international conference season with in excess of 10,000 delegates visiting for conferences held at a variety of venues across the city and we delivered a record-breaking Twitter Chat aimed at US travellers that resulted in 4,000 tweets being sent by 436 contributors, generating 178 million impressions and a reach of 3.8 million. Read all news from August here.

More cricket campaign activity followed in September when The Ashes came to Emirates Old Trafford, whilst the Manchester Convention Bureau returned to IMEX America for the first time after a four-year break, new welcome posters went up at Manchester Airport to greet visitors, and we hosted an Indian ‘super seller’ familiarisation trip. Read all news from September here.

In October our managing director, Sheona Southern, joined Mayor Andy Burnham’s 30-strong delegation to Bangladesh and India lead by the Manchester India Partnership, which resulted in a series of deals and partnerships as well as seven investment projects. Sheona led the tourism, culture and sport delegation, which included high-level meetings with tour operators and travel trade association heads; interviews with B2B and consumer media; and working with our colleagues at VisitBritain to announce key partnerships. October also saw us deliver the fourth annual Greater Manchester Tourism Conference which looked at the future of tourism over the next ten years as we begin work on the next iteration of the Greater Manchester Tourism Strategy for beyond 2020. Read all news from October here.

As for November, you can see below what we’ve been up to, including some focused activity within our key priority markets.

In December, once the General Election is resolved, you can expect us to do a big push to sign up partners for Manchester at MIPIM 2020 before the Christmas break. With uncertainty caused by the upcoming election we know that many partners are awaiting the result before making a commitment to MIPIM 2020; however, with the city thriving, if there is one thing that we are convinced of, it is that now is not the time to slow down or keep things ticking along with ‘business as usual’. If you are a previous MIPIM partner reading this or are connected to a partner yet to sign up, please encourage them to join the Manchester partnership and get in touch with project lead Clair Hewitson to discuss options before Christmas.

We’d like to thank all of our partners who have supported us this year to maximise our reach in the UK and internationally. Have a wonderful break when it comes.

News in brief


US activity in Atlanta with Virgin Atlantic

As part of Marketing Manchester’s continued partnership with Virgin Atlantic, representatives from the marketing team travelled to Atlanta in mid-November to deliver an on-territory event aimed at engaging with key travel trade contacts from the Greater Atlanta area. Held on the rooftop of Hotel Clermont, approximately 50 guests attended to learn more about Greater Manchester and its role as the Gateway to the North.

Whilst in Atlanta the team also attended a planning session at Virgin Atlantic’s US headquarters, along with VisitBritain and Delta Air Lines, to set out the objectives and strategy for the next two years as the airline looks to grow Manchester as a destination.

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Marketing Manchester on territory China activity

In November Marketing Manchester attended the VisitBritain trade mission – Destination Britain: China & North East Asia (DBC) in Xi’an – to deliver over 80 one-to-one appointments with buyers from travel agencies and tour operators seeking to add Manchester to their itineraries or sales platforms.

In addition to the appointments, Marketing Manchester also organised a reception for Northern England and North Wales suppliers to engage with China-focused Destination Management Companies (DMCs) who are a vital link between attractions and travel agents. The event was held at a local bar in one of the downtime moments in the conference and was attended by 40 delegates.

Utilising the opportunity of being in-market the team then delivered a destination workshop to 70 key Beijing based travel agents at an event held at the Ambassador’s Residence where English food and drink was served and presentations were delivered from partners covering Northern England and the North Wales region.

Rounding off the trip Marketing Manchester then attended the final event of a gaming contest for Honour of Kings – China’s best-selling computer game from media giant Tencent – in Hangzhou. The game developers are collaborating with Manchester City Football Club and the City of Hangzhou which is an important strategic target for Manchester.

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Manchester Airport secures landmark link to Shanghai

On 20 November Manchester Airport announced a landmark deal to connect the north of England with Shanghai, China’s biggest city and one of the world’s most important economic powerhouses, as Chinese carrier Juneyao Airlines chose the Northern hub for its first ever UK service, which will operate three times a week using the state-of-the-art Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.

The news has been hailed as “a key step towards making the North one of the world’s most globally competitive regions” and is tipped to unlock hundreds of millions of pounds-worth of trade, investment and tourism benefits. It will be a boost for the 180,000 people and businesses within Manchester Airport’s catchment area who already travel to Shanghai, ranked as one of the top five Global Financial Centres, each year.

Commenting on the announcement, Sheona Southern, Managing Director of Marketing Manchester, said: “The Shanghai-Manchester announcement is fantastic news for Greater Manchester, proving that Chinese audiences are increasingly seeing the benefits of the region as a place to live, work and invest.

“China is one of the city-region’s most exciting burgeoning leisure and investment markets, and a key strategic objective in the region’s international strategy.

“Marketing Manchester’s integrated marketing, press and digital campaign work with VisitBritain and other partners both in China and across the North West has ensured that Chinese audiences see the region not only as a globally competitive modern destination in its own right, but also as the gateway to the of England.

“The ongoing success of China-Manchester connectivity comes as a testament to the success of this activity, and we look forward to further successes as we continue to promote Greater Manchester in China.”

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Marketing Manchester supports Manchester India Partnership Mayoral delegation

A film produced by Marketing Manchester on behalf of Manchester India Partnership (MIP) and MIDAS was shown to hundreds of delegates in the Indian cities of Mumbai, Bengaluru and Delhi during the inaugural mayoral visit in October.

The film featured respiratory consultant Dr Binita Kane as a “golden thread” exploring Manchester’s contemporary connections to India, including Lancashire Cricket Club’s Old Trafford ground – venue for an ICC Cricket World Cup game between India and Pakistan; and Manchester Museum – location for the forthcoming South Asia Gallery.

The film – still in production at the time of our last newsletter – can be seen here and an article summarising the success of the Manchester India Partnership mayoral delegation appeared in the November edition of the Manchester Evening News’ In Business magazine, which can be accessed here (pages 32-33).

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Marketing Manchester attends World Travel Market

Marketing Manchester exhibited on the UKInbound stand at World Travel Market 4- 6 November. The three-day industry event attracts over 50,000 people and is a must-attend B2B platform for making connections within the global travel industry. Marketing Manchester engaged with over 70 buyers from across the globe in a series of pre-scheduled and walk-up appointments.

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Marketing Manchester supports GM digital blueprint

A video and content marketing campaign highlighting Manchester’s fast-growing £5 billion digital ecosystem has been produced by Marketing Manchester in partnership with Greater Manchester Combined Authority.

The video has a dual purpose – attracting inward investment and highlighting Greater Manchester’s approach to doing digital differently – and sits at the heart of a national and international promotional campaign via media outlets including Business Reporter and Daily Telegraph. The campaign guarantees reach of more than 100,000 people.

Supporting themes that will be central to GMCA’s refreshed digital blueprint, the film includes interviews with representatives of key public and private sector digital organisations including the BBC, TalkTalk, Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership, Reason Digital, The Link App and BAE Systems Applied Intelligence. A supporting thought leadership article has been provided by Cllr Elise Wilson, Leader of Stockport Council and Greater Manchester Public Sector Digital Lead.

The media campaign is being further amplified by a social media campaign using the hashtags #GMDigital and #DigitalInTheDNA.

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Continued success for annual Halloween campaign

As a result of a collaborative approach between Manchester BID and Marketing Manchester, the 2019 Halloween digital campaign was the strongest yet, resulting in an increase of over 18% year-on-year across campaign page views, and an increase of 49% in impressions across the social campaign and Google.

The campaign site achieved over 202,000 page views, with target demographics of ‘Shoppers’, ‘Media & Entertainment’, ‘Family-Focused’ ‘Fashionistas’ and ‘Foodies’ all occupying the top affinity categories on the campaign landing page. The paid campaign generated over 2.9 million impressions, with the organic social campaign generating an additional 150,000 impressions. We also delivered over 17,000 emails containing Halloween in the City content, as well as including the event in our media newsletters to over 1,300 international media contacts which helped to secure over £1 million AVE in press coverage.

As a result of this campaign, footfall over the weekend increased by 9% over an average weekend in October. As the average visitor spend per trip from a day visitor in Manchester is £46*, this additional footfall has a direct contribution to the local economy.

In a post-event survey, 85.11% of respondents stated that they came into the city specifically for Halloween in the City, whilst the top four ways in which respondents heard about Halloween in the City was via digital channels, highlighting the importance of the underpinning digital campaign to the overall success of the event.

*source: Greater Manchester Leisure Visitors Survey 2018.

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Cultural Destinations Partnership finalists at Manchester Culture Awards

The Arts Council England funded Cultural Destinations project – a partnership between Marketing Manchester and cultural partners which set out to improve relationships between the tourism and cultural sectors, to work together to change perceptions of Greater Manchester as a cultural destination and to create new bookable product – was a finalist in the Best Business Partnerships category at the Manchester Culture Awards on 9 November.

Whilst the award on the night went to the deserving Allied London, the Cultural Destination Partnership’s submission offered a good opportunity to reflect on some key achievements of the project which included:

  • The launch of several 45-minute museum and gallery highlight tours that are now being promoted on These are being targeted at both travel trade and consumers and include: The Classical Novelist Tour at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House; Nature Science and Civilisation: a highlights tour of 300 millennia at Manchester Museum; The Rise of Cottonopolis and Manchester’s Revolutionary Railway at the Science and Industry Museum; and The Gallery in the Park at the Whitworth.
  • Cultural content being included in media familiarisation trips throughout the project.  During the first year of the project, 1133 pieces of media coverage (including social media posts) were generated, providing approximately 174 million opportunities to see.  A culture-specific media trip took place in February 2019 which engaged journalists from the USA, France, Spain, The Netherlands, Denmark, Norway and Italy with cultural organisations in Greater Manchester and created significant coverage.
  • Improved cultural content on was made possible through the project and has resulted in significant increases in content and reach. In 18/19 compared to 16/17 there was a 225% increase in cultural products, a 400% increase in cultural articles, a 306% increase in page views of cultural products and a 2.5% increase in international visitors accessing cultural content. Social media (Facebook and Twitter) has seen since similar increases and there was a 385% increase in cultural posts in 18/19 compared to 16/17 and a 413% increase in reach in 17/18 compared to the previous year.
  • The web platform has over 750 contributors and supplies with 20% of its event listings.

The Cultural Champions group continues to meet, engaging with hotel concierges and front of house staff to create awareness of what’s on in cultural venues, promoting use of the platform and promoting take up of the new cultural products.

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Time to have your say on how your buses are run

More than 2,500 responses have been received at the halfway point in a major consultation on how Greater Manchester’s buses should be run.

While thousands of responses have been received, there’s still time for people from across the city-region and beyond to have their say in the consultation, which runs until midnight Wednesday 8 January 2020.

In October, Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) became the first city-region in the UK to launch a public consultation on a proposed bus franchising scheme.

This would mean that bus services would be under Greater Manchester’s control and GMCA would set the routes, timetables, tickets and standards, while the bus operators would run the services.

It’s time to have your say before Wednesday 8 January at

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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:

Manchester: 1 city, 5 ways – Delta Sky Magazine (USA)

Manchester guide – Matador Network (USA)

Discover the many marvels of Manchester – Insider Travel Report (USA)

Manchester: Creating the World of Tomorrow – Boardroom (Belgium)

Manchester a City of History and Innovation – Toronto Star (Canada)

New wave stays in now-hip North – The West Australian (Australia)

The death of gay clubbing and the rise of the alt queer night – i-D (UK)

Homoelectric, Manchester’s queer clubbing utopia – The Guardian (UK)

Top Instagram Spots in Manchester – Anne Foodie Travel blog (The Netherlands)

How to spend 3 days in Manchester – Dagniee blog (Italy)

To find out more, contact

What’s new in Greater Manchester: December 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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