From Tourist Board to Welcome…. The evolution of Yorkshire.com

Introduction

The Yorkshire Tourist Board had for many years overseen county tourism promotion from its Victorian villa opposite the Racecourse in York. In 2008 a new Chief Executive was appointed, and a new strategy introduced, to rebrand the Tourist Board as Welcome to Yorkshire.

Central to the strategy was digital marketing. The rather traditional website was in need of an overhaul, and plans were needed to encompass some of the new channels.

The initial brief was to rebuild the site using the existing RedDot CMS, the existing booking engine platform and simply improve the existing content management. Fundamental to the whole brief was the importance of hitting the launch deadline, as this was planned to be a major PR exercise. From initial briefing, at the start of December, there was 5 months to complete the project, but this soon changed to 4 months!

Process

A six-point process plan was created, ensuring full analysis of objectives, customer group needs, development research, supplier audits and an ITT would then lead to an implementation plan. A sample of the steps was as follows;

Step One

    1. Audit of existing site; site map and definitions of what can change/cannot
    2. SWOT
    3. Resources; human/financial
    4. Set-up feedback loops
    5. Initial timelines for project

 Step Two

    1. Feed-back discussions; individual groups of 5 max; Branding, Campaigns, E-Business, Membership, Exec, External Partners
    2. Collate, prioritise feedback
    3. Consider a usability report (third party)
    4. Generate enhancement proposals; existing and new features

 Step Three

    1. ITT creation covering;
      1. Scope; in scope/out of scope assumptions
      2. Language + code
      3. Constraints
      4. Hosting
      5. Functional requirements
      6. Accessibility
      7. Search
      8. Personalisation
      9. Tracking
      10. Performance
      11. Tendering + Selection Process

  Step 4

    1. Agency short list
    2. Issue ITT to selected agencies
    3. Make ITT available via website and publicise via minimum required media channel(s)

 Step 5

    1. Liaison with submission companies
    2. Selection Process
    3. Appointment briefing
    4. Revisit objectives and development ideas
    5. Initial designs and function proposals
    6. Budget agreement

 Step 6

    1. Implementation
    2. Usability review
    3. Internal teams review
    4. Board/External teams review
    5. Amendments and final builds
    6. Test bed and usability (external)
    7. Launch; technical and PR

In tandem, a branding project took place, establishing the new brand name (Welcome to Yorkshire). As the web project developed it had to encapsulate the new branding. So a parallel project, interdependent but driven by the same deadline of a launch at the end of April.

Fundamentally, the aim was to deliver

  • an award winning website
  • precisely on deadline (not a day, or hour, early or late)
  • too budget

Challenges

As the project swiftly progressed, and the design/build agency was appointed, new challenges arrived;

  • Determined RedDot would be dropped in favour of an open source CMS
  • Custom features had to be built for the booking engine and search architecture
  • New content amounting to over 80 pages of destination descriptions were needed
  • New photography had to be sourced for a major flash-based interactive feature
  • A mobile-based function was required at launch
  • A UGC function was to be customised and incorporated to the new site
  • The deadline moved by almost 4 weeks….shorter!

The job

The consultancy involved

  • Managing the 5 different agencies responsible for branding, design & build, research, and booking engine.
  • Project managing the build of the new site
  • Running all testing and platform build checks
  • Running usability research
  • Generating all the new content from suppliers

Outcomes

 

  • The new branding and website for “Welcome to Yorkshire” was launched at the Royal Armouries during a major PR exercise, with over 1200 guests.
  • The new website went live at 10.20am on April 2nd, just 15 minutes late.
  • The project was delivered under budget.
  • The new site won the “Best Tourism Website” award from Travel Mole the next month (and retained the award in 2010).