National Trust Secrets of the Causeway Coast
Improving Visitor Experiences at some of Northern Ireland’s most cherished destinations.
It’s great running a popular tourist attraction – especially ones that showcase Northern Ireland to the world the way the Giant’s Causeway and Carrick-a-Rede do. Both are heavy lifters when it comes to promoting the island of Ireland to an international audience and as such make their way to top of many travellers’ bucket lists for this special part of the world. But the upshot of this success can be a deterioration in the visitor experience in the form of long queues and overcrowding. National Trust’s mission is to preserve spaces and places forever, for everyone – so they knew they had to take action to manage the increase in visitors and avert potential site degradation.
National Trust asked AV Browne to help. Our task was inform people about the best times to visit to avoid queues, and raise awareness of other lesser known National Trust and Causeway Coast highlights that visitors could include in their trips. Our aim was to help spread tourists more evenly throughout the region, and ensure a better overall visitor experience.
We needed to both inform and manage in-market visitors, to engage with them to whet their appetite for the wider Causeway Coast offering, explain the conservation role of National Trust and – importantly – inform and empower them to discover the best ways to experience the region.
Enter the “Secrets of the Causeway Coast”.
Our campaign used tactical out of home placements highlighting the best times to visit our star attractions, targeted social activity for in market visitors that would illustrate the wealth of stunning locations and adventures to be had in this region and on the ground activity that would ensure we’d reach our less ‘connected’ explorers.
We made a “behind-the-scenes” mini documentary looking at a day in the life of the teams at Giant’s Causeway and Carrick-a-Rede. It showcases how the National Trust and its Rangers work tirelessly and passionately to make sure that everyone can enjoy these special places every day. It reveals the planning and effort they put in to make ensure every visitor’s experience is safe and enjoyable, and helps to illustrate just how popular both places have become with local and international visitors alike – an important message for our local audience who may remember visiting when daily visitor numbers weren’t quite at the dizzy heights they have reached today.
We also created a tangible piece of visitor information to support this – a guide and map, framed as a collection of secrets and “did-you-knows”. We wanted the map to appeal to locals and visitors alike. It features original illustrations, trivia, hidden gems and the inside track on all the experiences that the Causeway Coast has to offer from Cushendall to Binevenagh. The same creative treatment was carried through to our social media campaign and out-of-home formats, with placements on the Causeway Coast. This reinforced the breadth of the experiences that the region has to offer.
Informing visitors while they were experiencing the destination would be vital to influencing their behaviour. We needed to physically meet the visitor where they were and answer their need for relevant information. The Causeway Coast Hosts would be our team on the ground – part concierge, part tourist guide.Their mission was to advise visitors on the best ways to enjoy this extraordinary place and offer local insight on the region’s secrets.
We distributed 60,000 “Secrets of the Causeway Coast” maps, met 6,770 visitors through our Causeway Coast Hosts, and reached 1.4m potential visitors through social media. Visitor numbers to the Giant’s Causeway and Carrick-a-rede continue to grow but their flow is now managed to ensure everyone has a fantastic experience. These icons of Northern Ireland’s landscape are now at lower risk of overcrowding and damage, and visitors are enjoying the space and have time to take them in at their leisure. Attractions across the Causeway Coast are also now welcoming people who previously hadn’t thought to include them in their travel itinerary – a win-win for everyone.