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Leisure Media - Creative partnerships

Editor's letter

Creative partnerships

Despite ongoing challenges, it feels as though the industry is ready to move forwards. Now’s the time to take forward the risk-taking and creativity of the past couple of years

Interesting partnerships are driving the industry Photo: Historic Royal Palaces / Richard Lea-Hair

In September, I attended IAAPA Expo Europe, and saw the energy and excitement of an industry that’s daring to think big again after the difficulties of the past two and a half years.

Many attractions are still grappling with the longer term consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic of course. Visitor numbers are still down for many, particularly those that rely heavily on overseas visitors, and it will take a long time for many businesses to repair their balance sheets. Just as we’re emerging from the pandemic, the cost of living crisis and petrol prices are forcing consumers to think carefully about their leisure spend, and operators have been hit by rising energy costs.

There’s no doubt though, that there was a real feeling of optimism in the air at IAAPA Expo Europe, with operators announcing major projects and developments.

You can’t go forwards without looking back though. For this issue, I interviewed Bernard Donoghue, CEO of the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions. Donoghue has done an amazing job of leading the UK attractions industry through the pandemic, lobbying government, providing advice and clarity for the sector and commissioning and sharing invaluable research.

It’s been a difficult, traumatic couple of years, but as Donoghue points out, it has also allowed organisations to take risks, with some amazing results.

Organisations have been bold, and got creative with partnerships.

Donoghue points to Historic Royal Palaces teaming up with family-friendly Bestival with its Tudors on Tour event – reaching a different audience and telling its story in a different way. He also highlights open air museum Beamish teaming up with department store Fenwicks to sell old fashioned sweets made at the museum.

The Louvre has partnered with Airbnb to offer a series of special experiences, including a ‘once in a lifetime’ overnight stay at the museum, and this year has auctioned time alone with the Mona Lisa and a walk along its historic rooftop to bring in much-needed funds and try to drive up visitor numbers after drops of up to 75 per cent due to lockdowns.

The pandemic has forced organisations to get truly creative in order to survive. The way ahead is surely to keep hold of that bold, risk-taking spirit as we move forward.

Magali Robathan, editor

Originally published in Attractions Management 2022 issue 3
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