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The verdict from Chris Brown is steady and reassuring and, overwhelmingly, it is optimistic as the
city prepares to make its way through survival and back to health after the pandemic.
Director of Marketing Liverpool, Chris says: “We can’t be definitive about when we will get there. We don’t know what the impact will be. “But what we do know is that we are already thinking about our recovery, and we have a lot of clever, entrepreneurial and creative people in Liverpool who we need to engage in this process.
“It is they who built the offer that put the City in a strong position we were pre-Covid, and they will help to get us there again.”
Liverpool is now the fifth most visited city in the UK with 62 million day and overnight visitors every year and its visitor economy has grown every year since 2008.
For Liverpool that generates around £3.3bn per annum as part of £4.9bn for the LCR. And already a third of it has vanished. The cancellation of football matches and other large events like The Grand National because of Covid-19, have already cost around £1-£1.5bn.
Such a loss seems impossible to climb back from but, however difficult it will be, it can – and it will – says Chris, be done.
“Clearly, this is a global pandemic, not a national or local one, and every single country and city will be looking to rebuild its markets,” he says. “Competition will be huge.
“The difference between now and the crisis of 2008 is that this is a health crisis rather than a financial one. People’s habits may change, for one. How quickly will they want to gather in cities again and be among large groups? It’s the psychological effects that no-one yet knows.
“There is so much uncertainty which is what makes this difficult to navigate – a normal strategy approach won’t work.”
The length of lockdown and ongoing restrictions particularly around social distancing will certainly be a factor.
“The longer it goes on we might lose new products we were looking forward to like new hotel developments, things could be mothballed… there are lots of issues not least when somewhere anywhere – loses 30-35% of its economy. But they can be overcome.
“We can’t pretend that it will be like flicking a switch and everybody will come rushing back once restrictions are lifted,” says Chris. “Much as I’d love that to be the case it just won’t happen.”
“But there are measures we can put in place, to determine how we operate, that will help us through.
“It will need to be an intuitive process because we have never been here before, and it will be one that we have to keep reviewing.
“Others will do that too. Look at major key events coming up like the Labour Party Conference which is due to be held here in September. It’s a huge event for the city but will it come?
“Event planners will have the same trepidation we do and if there is one thing business doesn’t like, it’s uncertainty and we have that in spades right now, in so many directions. Planning what we do when things are not within our ultimate control can be difficult – but it can be done.”
Stepping stones, once businesses have been guided through and supported through recovery, will include re-establishing residents’ confidence: “Getting them to experience the city again, getting them out and about and feeling comfortable, and safe, will be one of the first things we must look at.
We can’t wait to get back into Liverpool’s famous attractions…
— The Guide Liverpool (@TheGuideLpool) March 28, 2020
“We have to build that before we build other audiences. One of Liverpool’s great strengths is its people and the welcome they offer to others, it’s what’s most talked about, and we need to instil that strength again; then that will permeate and manifest itself to other audiences, first regionally and then beyond.”
Chris is reassuring that the city’s recovery plan is already being put in place, it being the main driver of the region as a whole.
“We have a requirement to help businesses through and then they have an expectation that we will think about recovery and how that might help them.
“We need to make sure that big projects that were coming through like the cruise liner terminal, Festival Gardens and Pall Mall are reignited.
“We need to ensure there is revenue support and help businesses that won’t be able to contribute to the marketing process.
“It’s important that throughout this process we are led by business, that it is supported by the public sector to achieve a collaborative plan.
“It can be at times like this that people can be innovative, they can be creative, and we need to view things differently than we might have before the crisis (when we might have held back).
“We might need to make things less bureaucratic so that things don’t take six months to get through, so that the talent which we have, and must retain, can see ideas turned around and into reality quickly.
“It is a balance between being realistic and recognising what lies ahead, but we have to stay positive and we can be positive. Government strategy will be important and help drive us through but, with so much at stake, we will have great ideas, great creativity and a renewed drive to put us back to where we were.
“Yes, again, it will take time but, again, we will get there.”
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