Dracula shows destinations value of being big screen hits
2020 got off to a bloody start with the BBC’s new adaptation of Dracula hitting our screens. While Transylvania is a key location in the production, there is also a starring role for the seaside town of Whitby in North Yorkshire. Ian Thomas of NGI Solutions explains how to harness famous locations in your marketing.
With the advent and growth of 24-hour TV and streaming services, more programmes are being produced than ever before. This represents a huge opportunity for destinations to raise their profile, with a wider variety of locations needed for filming.
Whitby is the latest destination to benefit, thanks to an on-screen starring role, but there are plenty of other examples in the UK. The popularity of Peaky Blinders has led to a surge of visitors to the Black Country Living Museum, tourists have flocked to the Cornwall beaches where Poldark was filmed, and Alnwick Castle continues to attract Harry Potter fans.
How to make the most of recognisable on-screen locations
Having a strong film and media industry or stunning landscapes might land your destination a key role in a new TV series, but how do you capitalise on it? Once it has started, understanding the role that the series is having in bringing tourists to the area is extremely important.
Undertaking surveys can help destinations to identify the primary reason for a visit – whether this is seeing the location of their favourite film scene, a famous restaurant or the opening of a new attraction. Face-to-face or online visitor surveys provide a wealth of data to inform tourism strategies moving forward.
If data suggests that tourists are visiting primarily for filming locations, then destinations need to tailor new marketing activity to maximise these opportunities. Local businesses can also use this data to enhance their offering and target new audiences - this could be increased social media and direct marketing activity around the film or TV series, or even holding themed events to encourage visits.
There are great examples out there of businesses making the most of iconic filming locations. Alnwick Castle holds a ‘Wizarding Week’ in which visitors can meet characters inspired by Harry Potter, train to use a broomstick and discover the locations of famous scenes.
A Peaky Blinders themed bar called The Garrison has also been a hit in Birmingham thanks to the popularity of the BBC drama.
These businesses have used insight to target new audiences and ultimately have been able to benefit from being in recognisable on-screen locations.
In the North East, the ten-time Oscar nominated First World War film 1917 was filmed at various locations in Teesside – including Tees Barrage in Stockton and Low Force waterfall. It will be interesting to see how the destination and local businesses use this as a way of attracting visitors and customers.
Ian Thomas is Associate Director at North East-based research, marketing and PR agency NGI Solutions.