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Days Out by Rail – summer campaign results

The Days Out by Rail campaign, launched in summer and led by Community Rail Network, was developed in response to the increased interest of domestic travel and staycations identified through Visit Britain’s Consumer Sentiment Tracker. This also recognised that rail travel was a considerably low option for leisure transport as Britain’s lockdown restrictions started to lift, with many opting for the private car.

With this in mind, and having been unable to host the popular Community Rail in the City event for the past 2 years, Community Rail Network developed an 8 week tourism PR campaign. The campaign, delivered through Community Rail Network’s tourism initiative ScenicRailBritain.com, focused on promoting sustainable days out on lesser known community rail lines and promoting hidden gems, being conscious not to add to concerns in some areas around overcrowding.

Aims & results

1 – Provide an online opportunity for our members to promote their community rail lines to leisure visitors, therefore raising awareness of community rail to tourism audiences

This was delivered through eight member led blog articles around specific themes, published weekly on a newly developed ‘days out’ area of ScenicRailBritain.com. Members were encouraged to send their content in advance, focused around each theme allowing additional support for those members that may not have experience in
tourism promotions.

Thirty members, including five station friends groups, provided content for these themed blog articles and many more joined in using the hashtag on social media. During the campaign, each week the member led blog article would carry the theme and would be supported through Scenic Rail Britain and Community Rail Network social media channels.

2 – Inform, inspire and give confidence to domestic visitors to consciously choose rail travel as a responsible travel method

To drive results and reach a wider tourism audience, a specialist PR agency was appointed to liaise with travel and tourism media alongside travel journalists and influencers from across the country. The PR work highlighted rail travel as a sustainable option and encouraged visitors to ditch the stress of car travel and take the train for leisure. PR on a regional level worked well, focusing on specific member activities, highlight green messages and encourage use of community rail for leisure travel.

Outside of the PR work, green travel messages were embedded throughout the member led blog articles and social media posts, while also promoting active onward travel with walking routes and cycle paths.

3 – Aid in the recovery of rail tourism and local economies by showcasing impressive journeys and things to do nearby

In addition to member developed content published on Scenic Rail Britain, the campaign provided a platform for Community Rail Network members to use as a springboard to showcase local highlights and amplify their own tourism messages. To help members achieve this they were given a digital toolkit that included campaign logos, branded infographics, suggested social media posts, guidance on media relations and a press release template.

Social media was the biggest success of the campaign, with organic and paid for promotions. Posting frequently on social media (3 times a day on average) allowed the campaign to highlight member content in addition to showing support to members’ own online promotions. It also gave the opportunity to reach out to larger tourism attractions by tagging their accounts in the content, such as Bletchley Park and Peak District National Park.

Next steps

Over the next few months we will be working on our plans for 2022-23. This will include considering the development for a future Days Out by Rail campaign and what this may look like. If you have any comments or feedback or would like advice on developing your own leisure promotions, please contact our campaigns & leisure promotions officer, Alice Mannion, here.