RSPB

A journey to the future with the RSPB

52°06′56″N, 000°16′00″W

Overview

It’s exciting times for the RSPB. This most British of charitable institutions, now over 130 years old, recently underwent a major rebrand to better reflect its work to protect the birds, wildlife and wild spaces we all love.

But developing the tone, look and feel, a project beautifully executed by the RSPB, is only half the story. The other half, currently underway by Navigate, supports the RSPB's vision to make nature inclusive and provide an opportunity for everyone to connect first-hand. They wish to do this through their 150 publicly accessible reserves (226 total).

Birds of a feather

As Alexia Hollinshead, Visitor Experience & Events Consultancy Manager at RSPB said, “We chose Navigate because of the deep understanding they showed, not just of our mission but also of our brand as a destination. Now we’re drawing on their experience and expertise to shape the direction of our short and long-term marketing and to reinforce our offering both to those who know us and to a whole new audience”.

Plotting the right flight path

In simple terms, the RSPB’s destination marketing strategy is all about raising awareness of its “visitor offering” to new audiences and encouraging them to really engage and interact with the brand. Navigate CEO, Anthony Rawlins, likes to describe the plan more as an “interaction strategy” that will compel people to visit and really engage with the RSPB’s amazing reserves. “The RSPB is for everyone and our job is to show the nation, and indeed the world, what the RSPB is doing for nature, and just as importantly how they can interact with it.”

While it sounds simple on paper, creating a destination marketing strategy for such a large organisation is anything but simple. Especially when you realise the size, breadth and depth of the RSPB’s “estate”: it’s the fifth largest landowner in the UK, the largest nature conservation charity in Europe, and the fifth largest in the world. Add do thi the fact it’s 150+ reserves open to the public (223 in all) each offer something unique to visitors. Some reserves offer great accessibility to everyone. Others are geared towards families. While others still are for enthusiasts who want to explore the wilder side of nature. So any plan, , needs to take these wide variations into account.

Defining the destination… 

The destination marketing plan we’re putting together has two key parts. The first part involves going on our own journey to really understand what each reserve offers visitors. What’s so special about a particular reserve? Who will appreciate it and why? How do we position it? What key messages will resonate emotionally and draw the crowds? What other attractions are we competing with locally? And what channels will we use to get our messages across?  


As a result, we’ve been through hundreds of internal RSPB documents and spent hundreds of hours researching the organisation itself. We've then weighed this against the wider industry, where it is now, and its likely direction of travel over the next five or 10 years. 

…and charting a course to get there 

The second part involves developing a strategy to enhance and evolve the “experience” at each reserve once people are there. In other words, the interactive part of a visit. So creating a journey that encourages visitors to really interact with these amazing safe havens for nature. We’re asking which existing experiences really resonate with visitors and what else might? How can the RSPB deliver them better and how much should they cost?

Operationally, what training will staff need to implement them efficiently and for maximum impact? And because it’s a continuous journey, what barriers are there to execution and what needs to happen to unblock them or course correct if necessary? 

Short-term creativity 

And alongside this huge piece of strategic work, we’re also offering ongoing guidance and digital marketing support for the RSPB’s seasonal campaigns for summer, autumn, Christmas, and Easter. Why? Because while the RSPB is a charity, it’s also a commercial entity that needs to bring in money to run its operations outside of the important nature and conservation work it does. 

 

Long-term journey

Ultimately, the destination marketing plan is there to compel people first to visit the RSPB’s reserves and then, once there, properly experience and interact not just with the incredible environments, but also the inspiring work the charity does to safeguard the UK’s wildlife and natural ecosystems. Over the next few years we’ll be completing and implementing the RSPB’s destination marketing plan and can’t wait to see the positive effect it has on this iconic charity and the diverse flora and fauna it’s mission is to protect and conserve. 

“We chose Navigate because of the deep understanding they showed, not just of our mission but also of our brand as a destination. We're drawing on their expertise to shape the direction of our short and long-term marketing to reinforce our offering to those who know us and a whole new audience.”  

Alexia Hollinshead // Senior Visitor Experience & Events Manager at RSPB