DSEN August Network Meeting, West Ward Works
Our August Network meeting was held at DSEN member West Ward Work’s facilities which were a former printing facility for DC Thomson. David Cook gave us a tour of this extensive property and updated us on their exciting plans to convert it into a thriving Arts and Cultural Hub.
As everyone knows V&A Dundee opens on 15th September 2018 and this will be a catalyst to attract an estimated 3 million visitors to Dundee over the next few years – so it seemed a good time to focus on Tourism and the opportunities that it offers to local SEs.
We heard from Dr Paul Jennings who leads one of Dundee’s premier tourism related Social Enterprises, Dundee Heritage Trust. He is also involved with Visit Dundee, which is a collaborative enterprise supported by many in the business community and looks to promote Dundee as an authentic and quality short-break destination. Overnight stays being the key to unlocking the economic potential of V&A. He indicated that Discovery and Verdant Work’s visitor numbers have been largely static over recent years, and their challenge will be to tap into the expected increase of visitors to the city. One particular adage from the Museums sector that he shared with us, was ‘No Margin, No Mission’ – wise words for all SEs to take on board.
We then heard from Zakia and Sonny from Invisible Cities. This is an organisation that started in Edinburgh and works with people who have been affected by homelessness. It offers people a range of life skills and personal development inputs, as a precursor to training them to becoming tour guides. The guides then design their own tour, based on their interpretation of Edinburgh – which offers an alternative to some of the more traditional city tours e.g. A tour of Train Spotting related locations in Leith. They have also been supporting the development of similar tours in Manchester and Glasgow and are keen to look at the possibilities of replicating it in Dundee.
They have just launched a new newsletter which gives more info on their enterprise and other ‘positive’ SE developments that are happening across Edinburgh: Invisible News
Our last speaker was Sarah from Senscot, who leads on supporting social enterprises with Tourism related activity across Scotland. She highlighted a number of relevant case studies and briefings, see https://senscot.net/resources/senscot-briefings/ and also gave some suggestions of key resources that are available when developing your tourism offer. She also gave some important ‘do’s and don’ts’ including being listed on the Visit Scotland website and collaborating with other, complimentary service providers. Sarah asked people to consider joining Senscot’s Tourism Network. These Thematic networks offer the opportunity to share ideas, good practice and support with other SEs from across Scotland. Senscot Tourism SEN
Other discussions at the meeting included the necessity of having an online presence to enable visitors to find, view and book experiences before they arrived. The trend of paying online was also highlighted so that the need to deal with cash on the day was not necessary.