It is many, many years since I was a student, but at the beginning of this year I went back to school, well university actually and signed up for a Digital Destinations programmed, in conjunction with Bournemouth University School of Tourism. This was a pioneering project in conjunction with the university and the Economic and Social Research Council. The aim was that a group of dynamic and varied businesses, all hospitality or tourism biased, from across Hampshire and Dorset, would work alongside a 3rd year, Tourism graduate student. A student was be allocated to each business and looked at how digital media can influence, help and strengthen businesses and we were then tasked with making and embracing the changes and suggestions the students made and to monitor the effects of such improvements and factors over the course of a number of months.
The programmed started in November and we have just handed in our projects in June and I have to say that it has been a wholly enjoyable, fun and most rewarding project to be involved with. My team, we called ourselves “AppsFab” were fantastic. We all got on so well and have pledged to ensure we stay in touch as we were extremely supportive and positive towards each other and spurred one another on when it all got a little bit daunting.
We were offered tremendous support from the project influencers, Dr Philip Alford, Head of Tourism at the university and Maureen McAlister of McAlister and Co. They were both very different in their approach but both ensured that we all learnt much about digital marketing and social media and how to use it more effectively in our businesses.
It seemed odd going back to studying, but actually whilst I wouldn’t want to become a full time student again it was great fun- it makes you realize and appreciate the camaraderie that we probably all took for granted when we were proper students all those years ago and just how nice it is to have that feeling of so little responsibility that you have as a student as opposed to a business owner… it was one day a month of sheer, selfish learning pleasure and I loved it! Albeit we were set homework and that’s never the fun bit although the presentations at the end by al of our “AppsFab” members were brilliant and the star of the show was undoubtedly my friend Mel from Acorns B&B in Lyndhurst who had arrived at the start of the course knowing little more than how to send an e mail (she won’t mind me telling you that) and ended up producing her very own, amazingly professional and hugely entertaining video of her digital journey- she was a revelation and an inspiration to us all… and I must of course mention Nigel, who is now a freelance PR and marketing consultant with special attachment to Exbury Gardens. Nigel is a super chap who we have worked with at TerraVina for many years in our happy association with Exbury, but who knew he could rap like Puff Daddy??
All in all it was a brilliant few months and a pleasure to have been involved- many thanks to all my fellow “AppsFabbers”- I mentioned two of them, but all were brilliant and of course to Philip, Maureen, Jane, Lisa and all the team- a great project and I do hope it is repeated next year for other lucky business owners to enjoy.
Till next week