Despite the pandemic lockdowns impacting the ability of visitor attractions to operate, the Destination Consulting team has had a strong start to the year.
This is because client businesses and organisations halted by COVID have taken a view that now is a good time to explore long term plans. Clients turn to us for advice on the early stage of planning projects, which is where we can provide the most value. Our strengths lie in feasibility and viability testing – which is exactly what clients have been using this time to consider, with some having the advantage of being able to put funding towards projects.
Destination Consulting often works two to three years ahead of the opening of a big capital project. Our work sits alongside the early concept development and design work in building a case for a planning application. Often it takes years of development and fund raising before construction can begin and opening finally takes place. This downtime has provided a good opportunity to plan for the longer term.
There has been a noticeable increase in confidence in the destination sector as the year has progressed. During the first quarter of the year, the team was working on projects carried over from 2020, with lots of different conversations and leads about potential projects. There was a sense of nervousness, however, from the client side about committing to funding projects in February, during the deep winter lockdown with very little visibility ahead. Yet by mid-March and moving towards Easter potential projects and conversations tipped into instructions, and there was a very definite sense of confidence returning. April, May and June was one of our busiest periods ever as we worked on multiple projects simultaneously, and that momentum has carried through the summer and into the autumn.
Although we can’t discuss projects in detail to protect confidentiality, we’ve had a good mix. A number involve large scale cultural sector business cases in the UK, helping to justify a major capital investment in a museum or cultural attraction. Other projects include helping review the market potential of different countries and locations for an international spa resort operator which is looking at long term global expansion, and also a number of surf park related instructions across the UK and Europe.
The Destination Consulting team is fortunate in attracting business from both the UK and internationally, and from both the public or cultural sector and private commercial sectors. This means that we have good inbuilt flexibility and diversity which limits our risk.
While the burst of activity that we experienced in the spring was almost certainly the result of pent up demand that had been held back by the pandemic, we are nevertheless optimistic of another strong performance during the second half of the year given the number of leads and potential projects in the pipeline.
About the author
Matt Hyslop, is a specialist in creating successful destinations by giving strategic advice to owners, developers, investors and operators of visitor attractions in the UK and internationally.
To contact Matt, email Matthew.Hyslop@colliers.com