Discover how Salisbury Trails is helping the economic recovery of the city

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Digital Placemaking

Introduction

Calvium collaborated with Wiltshire Council to deliver a new digital service that reassures and entertains visitors to Salisbury. Every experience is unique.

To aid the city’s economic recovery after a deadly nerve agent attack in its centre, Salisbury received a £1m package of government funding to support businesses and to boost tourism and visitors. Footfall had collapsed and the negative impact on the city’s economy was significant. The city’s long term recovery strategy placed the high street, culture, perception and growth at its core. The situation that Salisbury faced in isolation is now being felt by towns and cities across the UK as they deal with their own economic crises brought on by the pandemic. As such, Salisbury’s story resonates widely and the steps it took for recovery can be applied in other urban settings worldwide.

Client Challenge: Attract visitors to Salisbury

Salisbury is a medieval cathedral city in the rural county of Wiltshire. In 2018, a father and daughter were found on a park bench in the city centre having been poisoned by a deadly nerve agent, Novichok. This led to the area not only being sealed-off for weeks and months, but to the news being broadcast internationally. Salisbury was immediately and repeatedly positioned as a place of danger and to be avoided. Duly, once reopened, it continued to be avoided. People stayed away. The social and economic impact was significant in the short-term and unless a recovery strategy was devised and implemented the city knew that it would face severe long-term consequences.

‘Zizzi Restaurant, Castle St’ by Peter Curbishley

Overnight, the global and local perception of the city became associated with Novichok. In order to attract visitors to return, Wiltshire Council needed to transform people’s impression of the place and their safety within it. The Council’s recovery strategy focused on Salisbury’s culture, its heritage and the retail offer –  ‘the quintessential medieval city’.

“Our focus is on supporting businesses and boosting tourism and visitor numbers”.
— Wiltshire Council

Having established the strategy, Wiltshire Council created a multi-faceted plan of action. Integral to the plan was a new visitor experience app with the aim of “contributing to a 20% increase in visitors, footfall and dwell time through revealing more of the attractions and heritage of the city, thereby encouraging more spending, business and investment.”

At this point, Wiltshire Council came to Calvium to help make their vision a reality.

Solution: Salisbury Trails

Salisbury Trails enables visitors to move around Salisbury’s historic streets and discover the city’s hidden histories. The App provides self-guided themed trails that are perfect for those on a sight-seeing mission or a curious wander. It encourages visitors to uncover the city’s unique heritage and points of interest, whether off the beaten track, exploring hidden gems or following some fantastic routes for shopping, eating and drinking in the city centre.

Visitors are able to hear stories about an attraction, read about it and see related images. They can choose to follow defined trails such as ‘Medieval Meanderings’ or ‘Witchcraft, Riots and Treason’ that present them with a range of related information along the route. The interface itself provides a seamless experience as the App has been expertly crafted, with attention to detail throughout.

As part of Salisbury’s economic recovery plans, the Salisbury Trails app is a perfect way to share the heritage of Salisbury with visitors in compelling ways.

Terry Bracher, Wiltshire Council

It is simply downloaded by visitors from the App Store or Google Play onto their smartphone; its content (text, audio, images) is readily available wherever and whenever they desire. Internet connection isn’t an issue, which means that the App is an ‘always on/here’ experience.

The team at Wiltshire Council provide visitors with rich and personalised experiences through expert storytelling. Critically, the place management team is in charge of helping visitors to discover Salisbury and guide them around, exploring new parts of the city as well as familiar paths. They have the power to do so at the press of a button – literally – as the Council team controls the Content Management System (CMS) that hosts the App’s content and maps its trails.

The CMS is really easy to use and Calvium’s user testing and training has been great in leaving us confident to update content.

Wiltshire Council Team

Salisbury Trails is flexible and adaptable to the city’s immediate needs and future growth plans as they emerge. Presently, this new visitor experience product is helping to attract visitors to the destination, thereby increasing footfall and spending. As the strategic needs of Salisbury grows, the Wiltshire Council team will be able to respond accordingly with the system.

The Salisbury Trails experience gives our place managers the freedom and flexibility to deliver new visitor trails in response to any situation or opportunity we encounter.

Watch & Listen

We had a conversation with Terry Bracher and Ruth Butler from Wiltshire Council, to hear about their experience of the project. Calvium’s Jo Morrison led the interview.

Watch: Videos from the Interview

Listen: Audio version of the Interview

Hear an edited version of the talk, recorded via Google Meet.

Made possible by the Place Experience Platform

Salisbury Trails is built upon Calvium’s bespoke Place Experience Platform (Place Experience App & Place Management System). This visitor experience product + visitor management service attracts people to a destination, guides them around and encourages repeat visits.

The visitor app is a place assurance companion; creating meaningful, sustainable and valuable visitor experiences. As described earlier, it provides unique content about your destination – combining wayfinding, storytelling and up-to-date information.

1. Integrates with a destination’s marketing collateral, ensuring a seamless brand experience. 2. Bespoke storytelling about the destination and themed trails for visitors to follow provides a responsive and personalised visitor experience. 3. Real-time information about the place ensures an efficient and easy visitor experience.

The Place Management System is an easy to use and flexible CMS that gives place managers complete control of all content. Their ability to design and map the trails means that visitors can be drawn away from busy thoroughfares and bottlenecks that cause long wait times and clustering, strain infrastructure and damage assets. As such, the experiences of visitors, residents and businesses are radically improved.

We are delighted with the mobile app and are confident in our ability to keep it updated with timely and relevant information thanks to Calvium's great virtual training and easy to use management platform.

The Place Experience Platform is a new digital product for place managers entrusted with supporting the visitor economy. It is inspired by Calvium’s experience of digital placemaking innovation with prestigious organisations such as City of London, Battersea Power Station Development Company, National Trust and Bristol City Council.  Adaptable and agile to its core, the Place Experience Platform is a managed service, designed to support place-based recovery and growth for all towns and cities.

Conclusion

The story of Salisbury shows how cities are harnessing the power of digital technologies to drive economic recovery and regeneration in an era of uncertainty. The power of mobile technologies to connect people with places in quick and meaningful ways is well known, just look at Google Maps, Pokemon Go or The Lost Palace. Furthermore, nowadays people expect digitally enabled experiences in all forms as a mainstay of their visit. The Place Experience Platform has enabled Wiltshire Council to enhance their visitor offer and demonstrates that Salisbury ‘cares’ about its visitors. At the same time, the economies of less visited areas are supported by encouraging visitors to move around the location in a guided way.

As part of Salisbury’s economic recovery plans, the Salisbury Trails experience is a perfect way to share the heritage of Salisbury with visitors in compelling ways.

The Calvium team working with you

Working with Calvium to develop the bespoke Salisbury Trails product has been a pleasure. There is a great deal of expertise that has been put into creating the platform, and the collaborative process meant we have been kept informed every step of the way - it was a great sharing of ideas.

Wiltshire Council

Calvium are recognised experts in designing and developing Digital Placemaking services.

Schedule a consultation with us today to find out how we can support your vision.

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