Over £50 million which could support Bath’s independent shops is going into the pockets of big tech, says Visit Somerset CEO John Turner, but a brand-new partnership could begin to reverse this trend.
Mr Turner explained to Metro Mayor Dan Norris just how he plans to support Bath’s thriving indies after uniting with Bath Independent Hotel Association and Bath Self Catering Association.
The Mayor, who is running an Explore Local campaign, learnt how the move will see the £100,000 expansion of Visit Somerset’s Stay in Bath Loyalty scheme. This will give visitors the opportunity for great offers for the city’s indie attractions, including one of its ‘jewels in the crown’, the Jane Austen Centre, helping keep them in the city and enjoying Bath’s indie scene for longer.
They also discussed how John and the Visit Somerset team are working with the University of Bath to roll out and artificial intelligence and machine learning to both organisations’ platforms, helping ensure locals and visitors book their stays directly rather than through tech giants.
According to Mr Turner, the changes will help Bath in the fight against online travel agents offering similar services without harmful commissions that see over £50 million going out of the city. He said: “We are really pleased to have finally moved the relationship with Bath Independent Hotel Association and Bath Self Catering Association to the next level. As we move forward, it is imperative we look to the future that has already arrived. Striving to work with a new consumer that engages with our platforms as we advance into the realms of AI and ‘one click’ booking. This will give our independent shops and fantastic local attractions the boost they deserve”.
Metro Mayor Dan Norris said the move would help Bathonians – and domestic visitors – sample the “best of independent Bath” and enjoy the city’s world-famous attractions. He said: “This is a really exciting partnership which will give local people and visitors alike the opportunity to buy local, see the best of independent Bath and cherish the diversity on offer in this great city. And from seeing how our former settlers liked to unwind at the Roman Baths to celebrating Bath’s most famous resident at the Jane Austen Centre, this city is jam-packed with amazing things to explore. This move will ensure everyone can see it all by turning that day trip into a short break”.