From tourists to T.rex: Six months behind the scenes at the museum

As I write, I’m sadly in the last week of a six month secondment from VisitScotland, the national tourist board.

The National Museum of Scotland has always done really well in terms of attracting tourist visitors, whether they’re from Perth, Scotland or Perth, Australia. However, there was a feeling – quite rightly! – within the Marketing & Development directorate that the opening of the superb new galleries, greatly enhancing the offering at the museum, was a real chance to shout our marketing messages from the rooftops, attracting more tourist visitors from far and wide then ever. I was delighted when I was asked to join the museum from VisitScotland to help devise a marketing campaign to attract visitors to the museum from beyond the local catchment area of within 90 minutes or so drive-time from the museum.

However, my role was actually multi-faceted in that I was also charged with developing relationships with a range of strategic partnerships to extend the reach of the museum’s promotional messages, and with generally supporting the wider marketing team with the main re-launch campaign.

It was straight in the deep end in week one, when my manager Jane Ferguson asked me to start work immediately on the production and implementation of a year-long tourism marketing campaign. That was a sign of things to come, and it’s been non-stop ever since – a common feeling for everybody who’s been involved with the opening!

It’s been a simply fantastic experience being involved with such an amazing, high-profile cultural attraction at such an exciting time. I’ve liaised with colleagues who are expert in everything from dinosaurs to native American costumes, and if anyone had told me back in March that I’d be organising banners the length of Princes Street, decorating an entire building in St Andrew Square, and having a Tyrannosaurus rex built for Jenners store window, I’d never have believed them. However all this and more has been part and parcel of the last six glorious months.

 ‘Jennersaurus’ takes centre stage in the iconic Princes Street’s store
‘Jennersaurus’ takes centre stage in the iconic Princes Street store.
Discovering the even bigger picture! Our creative in situ at St Andrew Square
Discovering the even bigger picture! Our creative in situ at St Andrew Square.

Even though I’ve only been here for a relatively short time, I felt extremely proud and  privileged to be part of the opening day celebrations on 29 July, and I can only imagine how the permanent staff across the organisation who’ve been building up to this moment for years must have felt.

Being in front of the building when the doors were thrown open, with fireworks going off and a roar of approval coming from the crowd was just an amazing experience, particularly when followed by the news that we’d more than doubled our visitor target, welcoming over 22,000 visitors in the first day alone. All in all, a magical day which I’ll never forget.

I hope my support has been helpful to the Marketing & Comms team over the last few months, and that I’m leaving them a legacy of a stronger understanding of the tourism industry and a range of new ways in which they can make their marketing efforts work even harder on behalf of the museum in the future. I’m very much hoping to continue to work closely with colleagues at the museum on my return to VisitScotland in September. There are lots of opportunities ahead to get the message out about the museum’s great new offering and upcoming exhibitions programme, particularly with the Year of  Creative Scotland kicking off in 2012.

More conventional promotion with Princes Street Visitor Information Centre
More conventional promotion in Princes Street Visitor Information Centre.

It’s been a huge pleasure working with colleagues right across the museum, and I’d like to say thanks to everybody I’ve worked with for all their help during what has been an incredibly busy time all round.

I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity of working here, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it!

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