Important membership update

15 Apr 2021

Important membership update
Dear All,
It’s been a while since we have contacted you all and associated public sector stakeholders together. We would like to thank you for your patience and understanding in what an incredibly challenging time has been. We hope that you will see all of the hard work that has been going on recently against exceptional circumstances to support and secure the future of our industry and our county. 
Our focus over the last 12 months has been around digital transformation and ensuring that our platform is relevant to the only one factor that we should all be considering - ‘our consumer’ – Consumers are currently around 15 years ahead of most of the digital strategies that I have seen! Which is concerning as the adoption of technology by consumers, is transforming our industry and many others' industries as I am sure you will all be aware. But this still seeming to catch many wealthy people and politicians off guard with their lack of understanding as to how our economies are changing rapidly, until it’s too late, which I do find really concerning.
Relative to other DMO’s who have always enjoyed far greater public sector support the Visit Somerset business– we have now completely transformed our digital platform, focussing on consumer optimisation, engagement, and relevancy of our offer as we begin to align ourselves with Air BnB and Amazon platforming.
As of Monday, we will be officially launching our new accommodation booking service in real time, at 1% commission and £3 booking fee, saving members up to 16% commission from online travel agents and £90 Million annually in regional commissions. There are still some snagging issues however we are at a stage where we feel that the balance is tipping in our favour and it’s time to launch.
Secondly, we will be launching our ‘Experiences Platform’ officially, offering a variety of experiences throughout the county online.
We have also now fully deployed our first Bot which is already automating up to 90% of all FAQ’s in real time whilst building a sophisticated understanding of consumer habits as part of our future Big Data strategy, which is already being enabled. (Imagine the intelligence we can glean from 1 million users annually in real time.)
We are now preparing the next phase of Big Data integration, which is currently under wraps, which would be a UK first, using technology of Alexa and Siri – currently Visit Somerset is working with all District Councils and North Somerset Council in potential support of this.  Whilst I am about to embark on my next round of studying with Edinburgh University and IBM in AI.   
The Bath website wire frame is now built and is going to be fully populated within 3 weeks supporting our independent accommodation sector in Bath through the help of Stay in Bath and Bath Self-catering.
With the combined merging of agency support through Staylists, Beyonk and Stay in Bath and Bath Self Catering our membership numbers will far exceed 2000 before the end of the year, with further membership integration plans being put into place after this massive phase of development.
Further stages in phase 4 and 5 – will include a complete review of membership strategy and a new membership model, automating payments to Visit Somerset, together with automated communications,  sitting alongside our new Automated CRM system -that has now been built for us by Sheep CRM.   With an E Commerce strategy for Somerset producers now being developed. 
Finally, as we prepare to embark on our in-house ‘full-service marketing agency’ strategy for the county, we are preparing for the 17th of May, which we feel will be an important day for the industry.  We have created a video welcoming everyone back, which you can download here. This has been created within Visit Somerset and can be adapted for different areas.
We would just like to thank all our agency contributors who have been instrumental in our vision and its continuing development. They have genuinely gone way above in their support of Visit Somerset and for that we are truly grateful.
Many thanks all and if you have any questions, please let me know – we are now leading the industry in these developments and not following it.  A position that our CEO is very passionate about!
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