It’s been another productive year for the VisitBristol and MeetBristol teams, with a packed 2018 full of events, awards and achievements.

Awards season

We started the year with a number of accolades including making the National Geographic Traveller cool list. The Luxury Travel Guide named Bristol as their Museum Destination of the Year and Bristol was featured as one of the 52 places to visit in 2018 by the New York Times.

Along with other Bristol based businesses, we had a great evening at the Bristol, Bath and Somerset Tourism Awards with our own Tourist Information Centre getting the Gold award and Kathryn winning Outstanding Contribution to Tourism in the region.

The year has ended on a high with Kathryn collecting the National Geographic Traveller Reader's Award for Rising Star Destination, beating fellow shortlisted destinations Valencia and Tbilisi.

Image: Kathryn collecting the Rising Star Award at the National Geographic Traveller Reader's Award

VisitBristol record breaker

The number of visitor sessions on the VisitBristol website has broken all records with site traffic to date at almost 3.3m, smashing the previous record set in 2017 by more than 15%.  We also have record numbers of social media followers across our three main channels, and the successful relaunch of our Pinterest board.

The development of our VisitBristol blog has been particularly exciting, with posts read more than half a million times and including some genuine Bristol legends taking part in our Food Friday - photographer Martin Parr, artist Luke Jerram and Briony May from the Great British Bake Off, as well as award winning chefs, film makers and producers.

Image: Snippet of our popular Pinterest board

Campaign and Mega Meet Ups

There were two major cross media campaigns this year, together with our digital campaigns and content development. Summer in Bristol ran from July to September and Merry Bristmas launched on 15 November, with a mega meet up of more than 40 influencers who explored the city region’s seasonal offer from Sudeley Castle in the Cotswolds through to Somerset, via some exciting activity in the central area with Christmas markets, pantos and much more.

This was the second mega meet up of the year, with the first taking place around English Tourism week and featuring some 30 influencers from across the world, many of whom had not been to Bristol before.

Image: The #MerryBristmas Mural

Travel Trade Treks

Through our partnerships with Discover England Fund Projects, The Great West Way and US Connections, plus our own Urban Food and Drink hub funded programme; our regional partnership with VisitBath, Bristol Airport and the Bristol and Bath Cultural Destinations Project, and with our own Bristol focused work, we have attended a huge number of trade events and brought more new trade buyers to Bristol than ever before. These trips covered both business events and leisure trips, ensuring the destination potential was demonstrated.

Events included the annual UKInbound Convention (we were shortlisted for DMO of the Year), ITB Berlin, Explore GB (where Kathryn and Jon, along with Bryony from Brunel’s SS Great Britain were stranded by snow), Routes Europe, IMEX Frankfurt, Destination Britain North Americas, TravelNewsMarket in Stockholm, IBTM World, The Meetings Show, Social Media Summit, World Routes, World Travel Market and the South West Group Travel Show, plus a number of other VisitBritain, Tourism Society, Tourism Management Institute, ETOA and UKInbound events both in Bristol and across the country.

We were particularly delighted to welcome the ETOA Board meeting to Bristol and ensure they had a tour of the city during their stay, making the most of the fantastic sunshine. The Tourism Management Institute held their annual conference in Bristol this year, with two days of themed activities and presentations with the cream of the UK’s tourism industry.

Meet Bristol Educational Visits

There have been a couple of MeetBristol international educational visits, coinciding with some spectacular weather, with participants from the UK, Europe (and Germany in particular) and Canada.

These hosted buyer visits are critical in helping business event organisers understand the potential of the destination showcasing both the central area and surrounds.

Discover more about our post Meetings Show educational visit.

Image Credit: Jon Craig

Media year

With around 200 media and influencer visits, it has been a busy year for our media team.  We have welcomed journalists and content creators from around the world including USA, China, Australia, Brazil, Europe and the UK, not forgetting our important local bloggers and influencers who help take the Bristol message to the world.

This has included digital and in print activity, as well as a couple of TV shows and often in partnership with VisitBritain, airlines, airports and supporting the work of DB members who host their own media partners.

New Faces

This year we have welcomed a couple of new faces. In April, Lacey Trotman joined us as Marketing Assistant, followed by Susie Bowers in July as Media Liaison Manager and in September, Emily Daglish joined as Meet Bristol Sales Executive. We have also welcomed interns Lisette Branger, with us in the spring and summer in 2018 and Paula Christophersen and Julie Fontaine who have joined us for placements later in the year.

A full overview of the success of 2018 and what's to come in 2019 will be shared at our Annual Conference in January. For more information, contact Faye Batchelor.