There are very few industries that haven’t been knocked by the impact of COVID-19. Hospitality, though, is among those that have been dealt the hardest blow. Closures, reduced occupancy and a year likened to ‘three consecutive winters’ have taken their toll, but amongst the ashes are sparks of hope. Businesses that, against a backdrop of dismay, are moving forwards, thriving and turning the year on its head. Businesses like the Bodmin Jail Attraction.
With a history rooted in hardship and a timeline dating back to 1779, Bodmin Jail has stood the test of time. It has housed the most heinous, bid farewell to the condemned and survived the threat of demolition – and now it seems not even a global pandemic will stand in its way.
A visitor attraction since the 1990’s, it spent the best part of the last thirty years telling the tale of its dark history – but there was always the feeling that it wasn’t living up to its potential. It deserved better. In 2016 a plan was hatched to transform it into a world-class attraction. Four-years and £8.5m later, it was ready to unlock its doors once again – right in the middle of the greatest crisis the tourism industry has ever experienced. The pandemic delayed the brand new attraction opening by six months. But open its doors it did, in the most spectacular style.
Showcasing state-of-the-art technology and the latest theatrical effects, Bodmin Jail Attraction reopened on 1st October with the Dark Walk experience – a major new addition to the attraction and the first of its kind in the region. Treating visitors to a truly immersive and interactive discovery of Cornwall’s most haunting histories, it hit the headlines and we’re proud to say that this is where we came in. A strategic combination of hard-working media relations and VIP preview days resulted in over 50 pieces of coverage across hospitality, travel trade and consumer press, including a full-page solus feature in The Guardian. In tandem with a wider marketing campaign, clever communications attracted people through the doors (socially distanced of course) and while the ‘new normal’ of COVID-inspired measures and procedures are here for the foreseeable, the future of this unique business looks bright.
So, what are the takeaways…?
How to share a good news story during times of crisis
- Time it right – when you share your news can be make or break, do your research
- Never take for granted the role of reassurance comms – and deliver it in a way that’s right for your audience
- Seeing is believing – don’t just tell, show
- Back it up with facts – impact on jobs, investment, growth, give insight and show credibility
- It’s who you know – stakeholders, journalists, influencers, identify those that can tell your story and share, share, share