How England’s Newest Tourist Attraction is using Social and Digital

How England’s Newest Tourist Attraction is using Social and Digital

One of Britain’s newest tourism attractions has opened in County Durham this summer and its organisers are hoping to match some of the success of Puy du Fou, France’s fourth most popular attraction and which shares a history of France and Europe in live action format with more than two million visitors every year.

Kynren, set in the shadow of Auckland Castle in Bishop Auckland, County Durham, is an open air night show which tells the history of England, as seen through the eyes of a lad from the North East. It takes places on a vast open-air stage with a cast and crew of over 1,000 volunteers as well as sheep, geese and horses and combines a blood-pumping soundtrack and dazzling pyrotechnics, lighting and special effects.

Kynren feels like part Olympic Games opening ceremony, part Horrible Histories and part Monty Python and the Holy Grail and has been funded by philanthropist Jonathan Ruffer and directed by creative teams from both Puy du Fou and the 2012 London Olympics opening ceremony.

The show, highlights of which you can see below, is running every weekend over the summer and up to 8,000 guests can watch at each show, seated in a specially built grandstand with views over the seven-acre staging area and lake. Tickets cost from £25 for adults and £19 for children.

I spoke with Annabel Tremaine, marketing consultant for the company behind the show, Eleven Arches, about how the show is being promoted on digital and social media.

Are you working with Visit County Durham on promoting Kynren?  

Yes, we have worked closely with them on a number of campaigns encompassing email, social, PR and traditional channels.

What types of digital marketing are you doing around Kynren?  

We have used Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Adwords and programmatic display activity to promote Kynren, which collectively has delivered almost 10 million impressions and driven over 70,000 new users to our website.

How are you managing social media activity around the show and are you working with the PR agency on this?  

We manage social media internally, engaging with and responding to messages on Facebook and Twitter.

Are you harnessing the fact that the volunteers who take part will also be able to amplify things about the show on their own social media channels? 

Absolutely, the volunteers have very instrumental in spreading the word.

Are you doing any blogger outreach? 

A number of bloggers have been invited to review the show.

Are you shooting any video for use on social media?  

We have filmed several of our volunteers talking about what being part of the show means to them and what they have got out of it, to create a video which we will broadcast via social media, to convey the range of ages and experiences involved (three to 87), the variety of roles (show team, animal carers, safety divers) – to convey the scale of the production and the benefits of volunteering.

Are you doing any standalone campaigns?

We ran a standalone campaign, a competition to choose the name of the first of the lambs to be born on site. We promoted it to our own followers and sponsored posts. Reach was over 40,000 people over the two week period of the competition, with 300 entries and increase in likes of 1,100. We shortlisted five of the nominations which went to a public vote to decide the name. As a result the lamb is named Archie, and the individual who originally suggested this name won a family ticket for two adults and children.

Have you taken any lessons from what Puy du Fou has done with its digital marketing and social activity?  

Not really, as a start-up gearing up to our first show season, our circumstances are different – we have to persuade people to purchase tickets to a show with no established provenance or even photography to convey the spectacular scale of the show. So we looked at what we need to achieve in terms of engaging people with what we are doing, and encouraging them to support this audacious project, and created a plan to deliver that.

Mark Frary is co-founder of Travel Perspective, a social and digital consultancy working with travel companies and tourism organisations to create successful marketing campaigns He is an author and writer specialising in travel, social media and technology. He writes regularly for The Times and has written for many other publications including the Evening Standard, the Independent on Sunday, the Daily Express, Food & Travel, ABTA magazine, the easyJet magazine and Teletext.  Mark also gives expert advice to leisure and business travel companies on their social media and communications strategies and is the co-founder of Social Travel Market, an annual conference on the use of social media in travel at World Travel Market. He is the author of seven books including The Origins of the Universe for Dummies and is currently working on a biography of the ski pioneer Erna Low. Mark lives in Ampthill in Bedfordshire, UK with his wife and three children.

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