Welcome to Yorkshire has plugged in marketing automation to personalise customer communications, support members during the Covid-19 economic recovery and reduce manually intensive in-house jobs “by 50%”.

Pre-pandemic, tourism in Yorkshire was worth a staggering £9 billion to the local economy, including £567 million in international spend, and employed 225,000 people.

However, many of the industry’s businesses have been forced to close due to the coronavirus outbreak – with visitor attractions, festivals, bars, restaurants and more, struggling to survive. The crisis also saw Welcome to Yorkshire evolve to become digital-first and explore innovative ways to engage with customers online, as well as help its crisis-hit members.

To further support this focus, the team has plugged in the UK’s fastest-growing marketing automation platform – built and managed by fellow Yorkshire-headquartered firm Force24. Via the savvy technology, the tourism brand can send hyper-personalised digital comms to its 100,000-strong customer email database and ramp up engagement with 11 million website visitors.

Speaking about the collaboration, Welcome to Yorkshire’s director of strategic delivery James Mackenzie, said: “We must understand our customers even better than before. That means segmenting our data to tailor relevant and timely messages – for a range of demographics – and responding to individual of-the-moment online behaviours and attitudes.

“Utilising Force24, we can refine content and automate routine tasks to give employees 50% of their working day back. Those vital hours can be better spent to further support our members and their customers.”

Predicting a bumper summer for the region – Covid-permitting – James not only wants to promote the region throughout the UK, but also appeal to a growing international customer base.

“Our Walkshire campaign generated one million social media impressions in 24 hours. And when we post about television shows – such as ‘All Creatures Great and Small’, set in the Yorkshire Dales, and Castle Howard’s ‘Bridgerton’ – our engagement goes through the roof,” he added.

“The insight is there. It’s now about helping members to unlock it and reap the benefits – that’s where Force24 comes in,” he added.

Commenting on the future of tourism and the industry’s ongoing recovery, James said: “It’s been unbearable for businesses, many of which have either ceased trading or are struggling to survive.

“We’re at a tipping point and have to support organisations by investing in the right digital solutions so we can engage with more customers. What better way to achieve this than via a fellow Yorkshire-business such as Force24?”

Explaining how Welcome to Yorkshire can benefit from automated processes, Adam Oldfield, managing director of Force24, added: “This team isn’t about sending the same bland message to all – it wants to deliver relevant, ultra-individualised comms that resonate with visitors.

“By tailoring messages through dynamic, segmented data – and letting automation do manually intensive tasks – the brand can focus on providing quality customer support via sophisticated, targeted multichannel content sent to the right person, at the right time, and via the right channel.”

Image: C David Lindsey @ Yorkshire Sculpture Park