March Update | Digital Business Tourism Project

Executive Summary

The Vision of the Programme is that by end 2014 Wales’ tourism industry will have moved from relative E business immaturity firmly into the digital age via the effective utilisation of European funding.

This will be achieved via a range of integrated and mutually supporting Projects within the Programme.

They are:-

A. Creating an Innovative Digital Tourism Business Environment

  • Project – Horizon Gazing. An approach to looking forward and outwards at ICT innovations as business opportunities.
  • Project – Tourism Innovation Forum. A tourism “social” network for communicating and sharing knowledge/ideas and collecting data.
  • Project – Business Engagement
  • Improving ICT Knowledge – Tourism Businesses. Linking into WAG eBusiness work.
  • Complimentary Package of Knowledge Building. Designed to improve specific knowledge needed to implement the programme.
  • Digital Business Knowledge Briefings for Support Organisations. Providing “executive briefings” on digital to opinion formers in support organisations in Wales.

B. Creating Digital Tourism Communities

Digital business networks/communities are groups of businesses brought together on-line for shared business interest. They are co-operative and innovative networks/communities and are usually regional or sector specific and interact with and through ICT. Local “communities” receiving support via this Project will provide open, inter-operable building blocks for the wider digital tourism community in Wales.

C. Piloting Innovative Approaches to Using Digital Technologies for Tourism Business

Based on increased knowledge, successful innovative tourism product ideas will be supported as pilots with knowledge gained being shared with the digital tourism community.

D. Developing and Exploiting the Knowledge Base

  • Opening and Developing Priority Content. Inspirational, “Rich Content about Wales will be made available for industry demand creation purposes.
  • Developing and Open, Inter-operable “Knowledge Base”. The “Rich Content” input from a variety of private and public sector sources will form a source of inspirational information about Wales used by the private and public sector tourism community in Wales to create demand and commercial advantage.
  • Demand Creation Using the “Knowledge Base”. Visit Wales will move its demand creation work into a “digital first” approach.

E. Technology

The Programme will support the purchase and development of:-

  • A Tourism Innovation On-Line Forum service to form the heart of knowledge and information sharing for the community via a “social networking” approach.
  • An Open/Interoperable content/data management system to facilitate the development of the “Digital Knowledge Base”.
  • An eCRM Customer (Tourist) Database Management/Data Planning Service to facilitate the distribution of the rich content in the “Digital Knowledge Base” to potential customers within the UK and internationally.

Human Resources

A small Programme Management and Animation/integration team will be required to make the Programme happen.


Project Cost £17,406,586

Funding Sources

  • ERDF £9,213,866
  • Visit Wales £4,451,939
  • Private £3,740,781

Digital Tourism Business Strategic Framework for Wales

Fourth Draft – Detailed Proposals

1. Introduction

The European application to develop a Digital Tourism Business Framework for Wales has been progressing.

The new Expression of Interest has been accepted by WEFO and we have been asked to move to Business Planning Stage based on the approach set out in that document.

This paper aims to set out fairly simply the way it is proposed the Digital Tourism Business Framework will work.

It is a paper for open discussion in order that the Business Plan is submitted with the general support of the tourism industry in Wales.

It is also the paper that seeks to identify partners in developing the Framework and the digital business community that has generally been accepted is the way forward for tourism.

We are looking at a convergence area project that will also benefit Wales more widely.   We are also aiming to create a framework that will allow partners to identify additional sources of funding where required to maximise its implementation.

At this stage the project is suggested to be c. £18.5 million project over 5 years with European funding component of £8 million – ie. We will need to find £10 million from VW and partner resources to draw down about 44% funding overall.

Attached are some “scenarios” of how things might work in order to help illustrate the approach.

We still do not have to submit an application – comments received on this paper from the tourism industry and stakeholders, feedback from potential partners will inform – and the meeting of the Working Group in August, Visit Wales management and ultimately the Task and Finish Group in September will make that decision.

2. Approach

Let’s keep it as simple as we can!

3. Objectives

By end 2014 –

50% of recorded tourism businesses in Wales will have improved their e commerce performance (as measured by the e commerce ladder adopted for tourism).  (Benchmarking on this is happening currently)

50% of support organisations (eg. Visit Wales, Regional Tourism Partnerships, Tourism Marketing Areas, possible bodies such as RSPB, ordnance survey, Countryside Council, National Trust, Cadw)  will have improved their digital business understanding and skills as measured by an adaptation of the e commerce ladder for non commercial support organisations.   This will be put in place if the Project is approved.  The aim of this is so that all parts of the tourism community can understand and engage in the new opportunities available via the digital environment.

50% of Wales’ recorded tourism industry will be part of a self sustaining open local digital tourism networked community that is forward looking, proactive and innovative.  The communities will be developed in a way that supports the agreed National/Regional/Local strategic approach in place from 2010 onwards.  (Currently under review) It is intended that this approach will create a clear structure for customers, the tourism industry, stakeholders and partners and will not lead to fragmentation.

The local communities will be the building blocks of a national level that forms the basis of VW work to create demand from the UK and internationally into the digital tourism business community    Business generated via the digital environment will have increased by 50%.

There will be a tourism innovation network in place that looks forward and outwards, brings in, shares with the community and considers ways of exploiting new digital knowledge and innovation. It will provide support to develop/pilot approaches that take business advantage of opportunities with the learnings from pilots/innovations supported also being shared with the wider community.  This will ensure that the digital environment is at the heart of the tourism community and will also be the core of its sustainability beyond European funding.   The Digital Champions/Animators ( will be responsible for creating this environment.

The project will have supported 20 pilots/innovations of various sizes across its 5 years.    It is important that these pilots are developed across the five years because technology will move on and new opportunities will arise.

4.0 Approach

4.1 Improving ICT Skills – Tourism Businesses

4.1.1 Subject to discussion and working through match funding – planning to work with DE&T and tailor and roll out their package for tourism. This would provide an on line training resource, a day diagnostic and consultancy for larger projects.

4.1.2 A complimentary package of training will be designed to meet the specific needs of the tourism community as it develops.   This training to be subsidised with private sector paying ____ % of the cost.  Existing suppliers will be used where appropriate and new approaches will be developed where required to bring in the most up-to-date knowledge.

4.1.3 Training will be co-ordinated (at cost) to support organisations.

4.1.4 A programme of seminars, workshops and web based approaches will be developed to share knowledge across the community including about innovations on the horizon and to encourage a proactive approach to taking advantage of them for business competitiveness.

4.1.5 Training will be available beyond convergence areas at full cost.

4.2 Horizon Gazing

4.2.1 Digital Tourism Business Champion team (4.3.2) will be given responsibility within the executive structure for looking ahead at what technological changes are coming and sharing that knowledge across the community.

4.3 Structure

4.3.1 Project Board – Responsible for making decisions on funding communities and pilots and for ensuring that the project progresses to achieve its objectives.  The Project Board will consist of VW Senior Management, partner, industry and stakeholder representatives. It will need to be large enough to have the right skill but small enough to facilitate effective decision making.

4.3.2 Project Exec – Responsible for delivering the work programme. Head of Campaigns and Digital Marketing – Responsible Manager at Visit Wales reporting to  Director Marketing – Tourism and Marketing. Project Manager – Setting up, Review Stages, Monitoring Progress, Closing Down. of Digital Tourism Business Champions/animators–

Manager + 1 at Visit Wales

1 within each Region

Experts and enthusiasts who know other experts and enthusiasts in digital tourism business and marketing!  Across the team there will need to be a wide range of knowledge and skills that the team will share in a flexible way.

Responsible for:-

  • Looking forward and outwards, gaining and sharing digital knowledge inc “horizon gazing”;
  • Keeping abreast of new systems and approaches that might be useful to the community and assisting areas and pilots to identify potential suppliers;
  • Looking for joint procurement opportunities where that is sensible;
  • Working with partners to open up and share tourism content that exists and create tourism content where it does not in line with a customer demand and market opportunities.  Some of this content will rest within the tourism industry, some within other WAG departments, some within related organisations, some within the Welsh creative industries, etc.
  • Ensuring the right conferences/workshops/training/business support/on line forums are available/developed to maximise the effectiveness of the project.
  • Encouraging digitally networked communities to develop and assist them in bringing forward applications for financial support (where appropriate) to the Project Board – these will support the National/Regional/Area
  • approach in place from 2010 onwards.
  • Encouraging pilot/innovation project ideas to be developed and assist initiators to bring forward applications for financial support (where appropriate) to the Project Board;
  • Ensuring that the tourism community and related partners make available and/or create the content that the market wants, that will inspire and ensure Wales is visible and attractive as a destination worldwide;
  • Understanding the “big picture” and ensuring what is being developed will create the effective, efficient, open, value adding, customer focussed, ultimately self sustaining community that the framework sets out to achieve.
  • This team reports to:
  • Visit Wales and Regional Tourism Partnerships Marketing and Development teams to ensure the framework develops in a cohesive way;

Works closely with:

  • Tourism industry;
  • Digital business/marketing innovators and specialists in and outside Wales;
  • Digital knowledge and forward thinking environments;
  • Sections of the ICT Industry;
  • WAG Innovation, E Business and Other Related Departments; Tourism support organisations and stakeholders who have a role to play in developing digital tourism business for Wales;
  • A proactive approach will be taken to linking with the wider WAG agenda for food, health, creative industries, inward investment, education.
  • Tourism training networks in Wales;
  • Digital business/marketing skills training providers.

4.4 Creating Digitally Networked Communities

The aim of the Communities is:-

To create a forward and outward looking, innovative environment where technological advances are quickly understood and business opportunities arising from them grasped;

To improve the collection, up-dating, exchange and distribution of digital travel related information (content and data) at an area, regional and out of this national level in order to provide the customer with a quality service and create competitive advantage for the tourism community and for Wales.

To provide digital resources for Wales’ tourism community to influence the customer journey and experience to the competitive advantage of Wales.

To improve the e commerce skills across the community via business support, training and encouraging the sharing of good practice.

The Digital Tourism Champions/Animators ( will encourage digitally networked communities to be created and assist them in bringing forward applications for financial support, where appropriate,  to the Project Board.  These communities could develop projects that include people, technologies and processes and funding (convergence areas) would be at 35% (convergence areas only) to a total spend of £100,000.**  It is the intention that each Marketing Area (subject to current review) would  have such a community by the end of the project.  There would be some mandatory requirements – eg. digital community content/data to be developed in a way that is open so that (within agreed rules) individuals and groups locally, regionally, nationally and external to Wales can use it to create competitive advantage for Wales.  Other than the mandatory and compliance requirements communities would be encouraged to be innovative and to develop in a way that works for them.   Local communities in receipt of funding would be required to share their learnings with the wider digital tourism community across Wales.

** For discussion

4.5 Pilots and Innovations

Across the life of the project new technologies will provide new opportunities and it is the intention of the project to support innovative digital tourism business/marketing approaches that help the digital tourism business community in Wales learn quickly so that successful approaches can be adopted more widely across Wales.

It is the target that this project would support 20** such initiatives across its life.  These pilot and/or innovation ideas could come from individual businesses, collective businesses, communities, areas, regions, national bodies. The initiators could bring forward pilot ideas that that include people, technologies and processes and it is envisaged that there would be 35%** support (convergence areas) available to projects costing up to £100,000.**

** For discussion

There would be some mandatory requirements, for example  in respect of ensuring an open approach and sharing learnings across the community related to those at 4.4 but beyond that freedom to innovate and trial would be encouraged.

Some ideas for pilots/innovations already suggested have been around wireless and mobile technologies, new approaches to developing web 2.0 content, using new applications (eg. Google Street), “dynamic packaging – product marketing “mash ups”, evolving ways of providing tourist information (eg. “wikifying TICs”), providing a “Visit Wales” branding on pilots so that they become “official” in a similar way to TICs currently, local video, a Wales TV channel; cameras made available so that photography can be geo-coded; developing an on line communication forum for the tourism community; creating and making “widgets” available across the community.    Also ideas like encouraging social media groups (eg. students, travel communities) to “blog” about their (hopefully positive) experiences of Wales.

Tourism Champions ( would encourage pilot/innovative project ideas to be developed and assist initiators to bring forward applications for financial support.  Pilots/innovations would be taking forward new digital ways of doing things that have the potential to make Wales tourism more competitive.  Their “horizon gazing” networking/information sharing role and will provide the information to fuel new pilot ideas.

4.6 Demand Creation

In order to create demand for the digital tourism community in an increasingly digital global marketplace for tourism it is the intention that the project budget will support an evolution of Visit Wales’ demand creation activity into the digital arena.

4.7 Technology

Visit Wales will be procuring for new technologies to support its progress into digital tourism business in a way that supports the progress of the open digital community and the cost of this will be part of the project budget.

Other technology requirements will come out of community network and pilot projects approved.

All technologies supported via this project will aim to create a shared, cohesive and collaborative tourism business environment.  Technology will need to be capable of creating open, simple communication and the sharing of content/data across the digital tourism business community.

The Digital Champions/Animators will be keeping abreast of new systems and approaches that might be useful to the community and assisting areas and pilots to identify potential suppliers.  They will look for joint procurement opportunities where that is sensible.

4.8 Monitoring and Evaluation

Business progress (by sector) along the e business maturity ladder will be monitored and evaluated.  Interim measures will be take-up of business support and training, attendance at conferences/workshops and feedback.

Support organisations progress along an adopted ladder will be benchmarked and also monitored and evaluated.  Interim measures will be take up of training, attendance at conference/workshop and feedback.

Local communities developed and supported with funding will be required to provide feedback via an on line approach.

Pilots developed and supported with funding will be required to provide feedback via an on line approach.

Business generated via digital demand creation will have increased by 50% from the baseline set this year (2009).

4.9 Existing Suppliers and Approaches

The Task and Finish Group have made it clear that they want to see the approach building on what exists.   Keeping in mind existing approaches and participants is therefore important when looking to the future.   It is, however, clear that with technological leaps forward taking place current approaches might not meet future needs and change will be necessary resulting in some current approaches and potentially suppliers disappearing and new ones appearing.  Current suppliers might need to develop new and innovative approaches to be future proof and the pilot/innovation fund might be a route for them to access support to do this.

4.10 Community Guidelines and Rules

In order to ensure that the community works on an equitable basis whilst allowing for innovation and new approaches are fair and equitable basis, guidelines and rules will be agreed that all participants must adhere to.

4.11 Digital Tourism Community On Line Forum

A digital tourism community on line forum be established to share knowledge and research, discuss and interpret, share good practice, cover hot topics like E-Crime, point people to useful advice, training, suppliers, etc.

This would complement other business support/training/conference/workshop approaches developed to support the programme.

This would be an important component of the project.   It might be run by Visit Wales or be procured.

4.12 Budget

Will break down into:-

  • Project Board
  • Project  Executive
  • Developing and Rolling Out DE&T Business Support for tourism
  • Digital Tourism Community On Line Forum
  • Innovation Network Development and Running

Digital Business and Marketing Training Tailored for the Needs of the Project using existing approaches and suppliers where appropriate and new ones where important to achieving the outcomes of the project.

Cost of supporting 13?? (convergence) digital tourism communities to develop across the 5 year life of the project. This to be supporting of the area approach in place at the time (currently under review).

Cost of supporting 20 ?? Pilots across the 5 year life of the project.

Demand Creation – VW

New Technology to Support Community – VW

Monitoring and Evaluation

Creation of Toolkits and other project support materials


Admin Costs

4.13 Match Funding and Support for the Project

Need to look at match funding possibilities over next few weeks.

4.14 Procurement and State Aid

It will be necessary to ensure that wherever possible elements of the framework are delivered via an open procurement process in line with WEFO guidelines.

The proposals set out in this document will be the subject of discussion with WEFO, State Aid and WAG Procurement colleagues during August.

4.15 Risk (at this stage ….)

4.15.1 Regional Tourism Partnerships will not wish to support.

Currently envisaged that they will provide funding for the regionally based Champion/Animator.   Potential source of match funding toward parts of project – to be discussed.

4.15.2 Local Authority Tourism Departments will not wish to support

Although it is not envisaged that local authority partners will at this stage “sign on” to actual projects, spends, etc., it is hoped that they will provide support in principle.

Private sector will not feel it is the right approach to take forward.

4.15.3 Lack of match funding to make the framework work.

4.15.4 Not being able to recruit the right people

4.15.5 Projects not coming forward

Because it is a new approach that will need development time before projects come forward, it is intended that there be a review at end of year 1 to ascertain demand for support across the remainder of the project.

An introduction to the project and the task and finish group

A Task and Finish Group was set up in the spring of this year and charged with developing the Digital Tourism Business Project for Wales (DTBP).Via the Task and Finish group and this online space we aim is to inform people about who is involved, how the plans are being put together and what stage we are in the process. We also hope to gain constructive feedback and direction on any of the issues related to this project, especially from the Wales tourism industry.

The industry, public and private, in Wales will help guide and form the way the above project develops. We all know that the digital landscape is fast moving and filled with new opportunities that present themselves on a daily basis. TripAdvisor alone adds an average of 3 new products a month to its portfolio of business eg. The TripAdvisor Owner Centre was launched in March and allows businesses and destinations to manage their presence and interact more efficiently with Potential customers. If you haven’t already, check it out here

This DTB project, from training to online networks and cutting edge marketing techniques and practices will help create what many like to call a ‘digital business ecosystem’ for tourism in Wales that will help us compete even more effectively on an international stage.

What is the DTBP?

The DTBP is a European Convergence funding project proposal sponsored by Visit Wales and its partners the Wales Tourism Alliance

Project proposal? You mean it hasn’t been agreed?

That’s correct, while the overall approach has been agreed following industry feedback, the actual business plan (what gets done and when) is in the process of being drawn up.

Progress to Date

The project requires funding from Europe via the Welsh European Funding Office (WEFO). There are 3 stages to complete before WEFO agree a project for European funding.

  1. Project Idea form (PIF) √
  2. Expression of Interest (EOI) √
  3. Full business plan

The DTBP has successfully passed through stages 1 and 2 and is now in the business planning stage although we will be resubmitting the EOI to reflect how the project has already begun to evolve in line with industry needs and the fast moving digital landscape.

You can view the EOI here and the Measure/framework that the Project will fall within here.

Who is involved in moving forward the DTBP?

The DTBP has a Task and Finish Group comprised of :-

  • Visit Wales
  • Wales Tourism Alliance
  • Local Authorities
  • Regional Tourism Partnerships
  • Representatives from specific sectors of the tourism industry.

A full list including contact details can be found here

What is the overall project about?

The DTBP is a large and ambitious project and is likely to have many projects of different sizes running at various phases, but broadly speaking it consists of the following major elements which will cover;

  • Business/Industry engagement – Improving the way tourism businesses and organisations market themselves and Wales in the digital environment. more
  • Developing the digital network environment – making sure that content and information is developed and accessible not only to people but also to networks (Search, Social Media etc). more
  • Business Demand Creation / stimulation – while it is essential that information and media about Wales is accessible to all the project recognises that people are still being inspired to visit Wales. more

Please see our FAQ’s about the DTBP

What are the next steps?

We are currently working on a questionnaire that aims to provide us and WEFO with a snapshot of tourism SMEs’ adoption of internet technology, online marketing and ecommerce. Keep an eye on this blog for further details about the questionnaire, how to get hold of one and how to distribute it to your network.

The next challenge is to finish stage 3 of the WEFO application. The Business Plan section of the blog outlines the three main strands to the project – take a look and tell us what you think

Welcome from Julian Burrell and Roger Pride

Julian Burrell (Chairman of WTA) and Roger Pride (Director of Marketing) are Joint Chairs of the Task and Finish Group for the Digital Tourism Business Framework.

Our blog will provide monthly  progress updates on the development of our application for european funding to raise the awareness of digital marketing across the tourism industry in Wales.

We hope that blogging about updates and issues as they come up will allow us to keep everyone in touch with progress, talk about our plans and allow anybody interested to contribute and be part of the digital tourism community.

Start with our ‘introduction to the project‘, and here is a quick guide to what else you can find here

  • Progress Update – find out the latest developments in our application to fund the digital project
  • Business Plan – a formative outline of the major elements of the strategy
  • EOI – details of our initial approach to WEFO, called an Expression of Interest (EOI)
  • FAQ – the results of our consultation with the tourism industry of Wales presented in a FAQ style
  • T&F Group Contact Details – how to get in touch with the people reponsible for progressing this project