Spotlight On Di Glover – The Beatles Story

A few weeks ago, Rachel Emson, Chair of Communications for the CIM North West Board, catches up with Di Glover, Marketing Manager at The Beatles Story, Liverpool, to share her journey into keeping the Beatles legacy alive, and developing marketing activity to keep the younger and older audiences engaged with the Beatles brand as well as continuing the to spread the Brand's reach globally. 

Tell us about The Beatles Story and the role marketing has to play in its continued success.

The Beatles Story is Liverpool’s leading Beatles visitor attraction telling the story of the city’s famous sons and taking visitors on a unique, immersive journey into the story of their lives, culture and music. When the attraction first opened its doors to the public in May 1990, Liverpool was very different to the world-class leisure destination it is known as today with the impact of 2008’s Capital of Culture consolidating the city’s position as an international tourism destination.

This was further complimented by the 2015 UNESCO Creative City of Music award, recognising The Beatles’ legacy for the city and its rich and diverse music history going back as far as the 18th century. Reaching and educating a younger, more diverse audience is a key objective in our marketing strategy to ensure the sustainability of our business into the future and continuing to support the wider Liverpool City Region visitor economy, protect and enhance the Beatles’ global brand and its legacy in the birthplace of The Beatles for future generations.

Tourism is one of the sectors most affected by the recent pandemic and current cost of living
crisis how have your marketing plans changed and adapted to build a better future?
Pre-Covid, travel and tourism were one of the most important sectors in the world economy and aligning with successful campaigns and sales missions alongside key partners such as Visit Britain, UKInbound and ETOA resulted in our visitor numbers increasing year on year. International visitors amounted to over 65% of our total visitor numbers in 2018/19 which we service by providing audio guides in 12 languages. The effects of the pandemic for our industry are ongoing with tourism levels not likely to return to pre-pandemic levels until end of 2023 and into 2024.

Our marketing strategy has been adapted to address the effects of the pandemic on travel and tourism taking into consideration the current and ever-changing climate, changes to our demographic audiences and the changing nature of travel, and we continue to work alongside partners and travel trade intermediaries to maximise on opportunities to drive inbound tourism into the UK. In 2021 I was delighted to be voted onto the Board of Directors for UKInbound and I work alongside their team and other Directors lobbying the Government on the current travel and tourism issues affecting tourism into the UK, supporting and working with its members and ensuring that our attraction and the city region is visible and primarily represented in the UK’s offer for inbound visitors.

The Beatles Story is an enduring brand. With changes in consumer behaviour and audience
shift - can you tell us a little about how The Beatles Story stays relevant.
Our approach to digital and social media is a key part of our marketing strategy so we can engage with existing and new audiences globally. Visitors are encouraged using these platforms to engage with us and we recognise the importance of keeping our website and digital channels updated with fresh, relevant information targeted to a younger audience.

Our attraction is aimed at telling the story of The Beatles to a generation of people who were not there to experience the heady days of the 1960s and the Beatlemania that surrounded the band and how influential they were in the production of music, which was revolutionary in its time, but also their influence on fashion, trends, and culture. With the technological advances being made today in digital resources (such as AI and VR), further investment is currently being investigated so we can meet the expectations of younger audiences, whilst also retaining the authenticity of our product.

Can you share some of the innovative approaches your business has taken throughout the
years? / Why is Innovation even more important now than ever?
In 2015, as part of our 25th anniversary celebrations, we initiated an international ambassador programme; connecting with Beatles’ fans and partners based in our main international territories to source relevant news and content and also share our stories and create an awareness of The Beatles Story to gain greater reach and engagement and increase brand awareness through ambassador channels. International initiatives have led to partnerships with The Grammy’s Museum in LA and international auction houses and investment into the business including new products, services and memorabilia is self-funded from trading profits with a mix of owned memorabilia and key loaned products from private owners.

Relationship development with Beatles’ memorabilia collectors adds value to campaign activities, augmenting displays, creating PR/media coverage and added value for visitors.
We have adopted new innovative digital processes to target new markets. With strategic planning and targeted digital activity across our digital, social and review site communities, we educate and encourage fans to share opinions, guiding them on a digital customer journey aimed at visiting our attraction, city and region. This year we also initiated a TikTok account which is seeing exciting growth, with over 10k followers and engagement with thousands of Gen Z fans.

Innovation is crucial and key to our success to ensure we remain fresh and relevant for new audiences and just like The Beatles did during their hugely successful career, we aspire to continue to evolve and implement new ideas for future sustainability.

What do you see as the main challenges you will face in the near future and how do you plan
to overcome them?
During Covid, while we continued to engage with our international markets across our digital and social platforms, our marketing emphasis was more targeted towards a domestic audience who were able to visit us and with education at the forefront of our strategy.

As international markets now open up, there are still key territories such as our valuable Chinese market which have restrictions in place, and we will not see any major improvements in their visitor numbers until 2024. We employ team members who are fluent in key languages and also with skills in Chinese and Asian social platforms and this allows us to continue to engage with these markets so when visitors are able to travel, the city and our attraction are high on their bucket list.

Also issues caused by Brexit over VISAs have adversely affected our European international educational market and we support UKInbound and ETOA who are tirelessly lobbying the UK Govt to enable greater understanding of the effects this is having on UK attractions and tourism partners and we hope that our efforts will soon be addressed.

Has sustainability been a positive driver for Innovation and if so can you share some
During lockdown with visitors unable to travel, we transformed our social platforms into a dedicated online community of worldwide Beatles fans. Shifting from one-sided content to a more community-focussed and engaging strategy, we focused on valuable engagement to reach new people and improve brand awareness.

Nurturing fans of The Beatles and providing them with a space to share their love for the band with like-minded people has transformed our social media presence into a unique community and has made The Beatles Story a familiar name across the globe. The success of this new strategy is reflected in rising sales numbers showing our refocus on community in the online space being successful in the journey from social platforms to ticket sales.

Maintaining the legacy of The Beatles is important to us and is achieved through investment in education targeting a younger generation by providing educational visits and resources aligning with curriculums. During the pandemic we invested more resources into our educational offering, establishing new partnerships and providing online resources for home-schooling. The success of these efforts is evidenced not only in increased school bookings but in the enthusiasm witnessed from the children that visit.

This has resulted in associated awards including a Quality Badge by the ‘Learning Outside the Classroom’ initiative backed by OFSTED. Recently we have partnered with BETA which is a particularly exciting prospect, and will help to keep the legacy of the band alive in national and international establishments. Along with primary education we are also developing our Higher Education product aimed at secondary schools, colleges, and universities.

Local partnerships include LIPA and the University of Liverpool delivering a Master’s Degree in The Beatles and Popular Music. For international Higher Education partners, we devised a programme delivering lectures tailored for specific core subjects and creating resource packs supporting both teachers and students in their exploration of not just music, but also subjects including business and marketing.

What have been the challenges in getting new initiatives off the ground and how did you
overcome them?
Adapting our marketing planning to work across so many platforms for international visitors can be challenging especially in some Asian markets where social platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram are banned. In order to engage with customers in these markets we set up specific platforms such as Chinese Weibo and WeChat. Pre-COVID, China was our 4th largest international audience and the reach and engagement on these platforms is exceptionally higher than standard ones. Management of these does not come without its challenges and requires a high level of continual engagement, and to manage this we employ a dedicated marketing team to maintain the success of these. This has also led to some great opportunities to engage with Chinese influencers in areas of music and entertainment and reach an even larger audience.

We would like to thank Di Glover and Rachel Emson for this interview!
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