Independent vacation rental owners should make the most of any local attractions to draw in visitors. Look out for tv and movie connections – these can be gold dust.
As local attractions go, the Ponderosa Ranch was some crowd-puller. In its day, the location of TV’s golden oldie western series ‘Bonanza’ must have been a real bonanza for nearby vacation rental owners in the Lake Tahoe area. More recently, Downton Abbey, another series followed avidly by viewers on both sides of the Atlantic, created a similar ‘bonanza’ for local owners.
Visitors from across the globe were drawn to Highclere Castle in Bedfordshire, here in England, where much of this popular costume drama series was shot. At the height of its popularity 1,200 visitors a day were attracted to its lavish rooms and spectacular grounds.
Spin-off for local vacation rentals
Include the costs of admission and afternoon teas, and that equals an income of £38,000 a day for the owners. That’s nearly $60,000. Now, imagine the spin-off for the local vacation rental properties who have this prime local attraction on their patch.
Sadly, the Ponderosa theme park closed in gates in 2004 after a run of 37 years. You can gauge its drawing power from the fact that it lured this Englishman to drive hundreds of miles and stay over in Northern California to see it.
My point is that landscapes and locations featured in TV dramas and movies make powerful local attractions for tourists and visitors. I was reminded of this by the excitement surrounding the runaway success of the Poldark TV series here in England. Apparently, this swashbuckling, historical drama set among the tin mines of 18th century Cornwall is hugely popular in many other places besides the UK. Aside from its bare-chested hero (played by heart throb Aidan Turner), one of the big stars of the show is the rugged and beautiful Cornish countryside.
Website hits went up by 65%
For the county itself, an area with plenty of local attractions and a heavy reliance on tourism, the impact of the series was huge. Hits at the tourist body VisitCornwall’s website spiked as soon as the first episode aired, then rose by 65% in the following weeks. National newspapers predicted a goldmine for the Cornish tourist industry this summer, noting that: ‘Hotels, B&Bs and campsites also report that potential visitors are making sure they did not miss the chance to follow in Poldark’s footsteps’.
Following the series run on TV, a survey of British tourists voted it the number one destination for 2015.
‘Classic destination marketing’
Malcolm Bell, head of VisitCornwall, told the Western Morning News : ‘The iconic shots of those uniquely Cornish coves and cliff tops are classic destination marketing. Film and TV is proven to have a significant influence on holiday decision making so Poldark has been an incredible gift to Cornwall. We couldn’t ask for a more powerful showcase and with the second series confirmed it can only get better.’
Great, if you happen to own a property in the areas featured in Downton Abbey, Poldark or one of the other big shows building local attractions. But take a look at your own locality. Are there any movie or TV connections you can make? Any associated images you can use on your website (these can make a powerful impression)? Are there any special attractions related to those shows that you could highlight in your visitor information? In Cornwall, for instance, one enterprising kayak rental company is offering a Poldark-themed tour on the water!
For the skeptics among you who may think that these are just passing fads, consider this: The Ponderosa lasted all those years. And who doesn’t know that there’s still a Cheers Bar drawing tourists in Boston. But now we’re talking nostalgia. Another blog altogether…