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Pay As You Like incentives provide boost for businesses and visitors
TOURISM businesses across Central Scotland have shared their experience of introducing ‘Pay As You Like’ incentives in support of the cost-of-living crisis. Visitor attractions in Fife and Stirlingshire were able to increase other income revenues, attract new visitors and strengthen ties with their local communities when they swapped fixed entrance fees, for a ‘pay as you like’ alternative.
The news comes as the latest insights indicate that the majority of UK residents still think that the ‘worst is still to come’ in relation to the ‘cost-of-living’ crisis and that when thinking about day trips, 28% of adults will look for more free things to do. *Kingsbarns Distillery in St Andrews introduced a ‘Pay What You Like’ offer for a tour of their 5-Star distillery on a Sunday morning between November 2022 and March 2023, a move that helped attract visitors, in particular locals, during the quieter winter months.
Visitor Engagement Manager Andrea Morris said: “We introduced the Pay What You Like initiative last year. We are staffed and open on a Sunday morning so there is no loss to our business by offering the tour. It makes sense to open our doors and enjoy the company of guests while we can – we would much rather do this. “Our visitors really enjoyed the experience and were always happy to pay a contribution. We saw it as a way of giving back. We know the cost-of-living crisis is a challenge for many people so if we are open and staffed then why not offer a warm welcome to visitors. It has been really popular with locals who may not have done the tour before, and we hope that they will be encouraged to visit again and make use of the café and shop all year round.”
Briarlands Farm in Stirling opened for the new season in February 2023 and trialled a month-long promotion inviting visitors to pay what they could afford that resulted in a huge rise in visitor numbers.
Mary Inglis, owner said: “February is usually our quietest month and, if we compare our visitor numbers from last year, we had almost a 300% increase in visitors. “Many of these visitors were new customers who had not heard of us before and only found out about us through the promotion. We did see an increase in visitors spending money in the café and in the shop. We have had some really positive feedback from people who wouldn’t have been able to visit before, and we’ve had people taking advantage of the offer and then signing up to season tickets and memberships, so it has been great in this respect.”
The Scottish Deer Centre in Fife introduced their ‘Pay as You Please’ offer at the end of the school summer holidays in August 2022 and have kept it in place ever since. The offer allows visitors to pay what they can afford on entry to the 55-acre animal park. Manager Sarah Rice said: “We introduced the Pay as You Please offer in response to the cost-of-living crisis because we want every child in Scotland to have the chance to experience the centre. At the time, we didn’t know how long we would keep it in place, but it has worked really well. “We are attracting new visitors, but locals as well, who will perhaps pop in for an hour or two in the afternoon, for shorter periods. “We are getting high numbers of footfall and people are buying teas and coffees and food for the animals. It makes such a difference to have so many people in the park, there is a nice buzz around the place. “We’re also doing our bit to give back to the community. We’ve had some lovely feedback from people who wouldn’t otherwise have been able to afford to bring their children and they are so grateful that they are able to now. “The whole initiative has been really positive, and it makes such a difference that people can come and enjoy our space.”
VisitScotland Destination Development Director Caroline Warburton said: “After an incredibly difficult period during the pandemic, we know that the rise in the cost-of-living and doing business has created new challenges for our tourism industry and for our visitors. The resilience of tourism businesses during this time has been impressive and to see their ongoing creativity in finding new ways to appeal to visitors is great to see. “We know that visitors are still looking for great things to see and do, both locally and whilst on holiday. Consumer research is showing that those attractions which are seen to provide value for money are popular with visitors. They are demonstrating that although doing things differently may be a risk, it may also bring benefits and new ways of working which will help strengthen and reach new audiences, creating a legacy that will see visitors return year after year.”
CEO of the Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions (ASVA), Gordon Morrison, said “The last three years have been uniquely challenging for visitor attractions, with Brexit, the covid pandemic, the cost- of-living crisis and the ever-rising cost of doing business creating the most difficult operating conditions ever seen in the sector. ASVA members have, however, proven themselves to be creative, adaptable and resilient in the face of these crises. Ours is a sector that recognises our role in supporting, connecting and inspiring local communities and initiatives such as ‘pay what you can’ provides further evidence of this.
“Whilst costs are undoubtedly rising for attraction operators, our data shows that the vast majority are not pushing these costs onto visitors. ASVA’s most recent survey of attraction operators, conducted in March 2023, indicates that 90% plus of the sector are not introducing inflationary price increases at their venues. Indeed, for more than 1 in 3, there are no increases in admissions prices at all. This is primarily because attraction operators want to continue to do all they can to support the local communities and local visitors who make up the majority of visitors to attractions in Scotland, and they want to ensure that local people can continue to enjoy the world class attraction experiences on offer here without bursting the bank.’’
Ends *UK Residents Holiday Sentiment Tracker (March 2023) UK Residents Holiday Sentiment Tracker | VisitScotland.org https://www.visitscotland.org/research-insights/about-our-visitors/uk/sentiment-tracker
Tourism businesses in Central Scotland are utilising ‘Pay As You Like’ incentives to alleviate the cost-of-living crisis. Visitor attractions have observed increased revenue, new visitors, and strengthened community ties by replacing fixed entrance fees with a pay-what-you-like option.