Generating a total of £2.2 billion to the UK economy, the music tourism industry is big business in anyone’s language. But this figure could translate into something even higher.
That’s because several UK festival operators don’t have foreign language content on their websites. Consequently, they could be missing out.
If you were a British car or food manufacturer looking to expand into, for example, Germany or France, you wouldn’t even contemplate such expansion without getting your website content translated.
So why isn’t this same service afforded to overseas music lovers eager to find out more about Britain’s glittering array of music festivals?
The potential for even greater rewards has just been underlined in a new study by VisitBritain, the tourism body.
It said that overseas tourists accounted for 6% of music tourism visits but a fifth of music tourism spending, with London attracting 28% of all music tourists to the UK, welcoming 1.8 million people to the capital to enjoy the UK’s rich music culture. This suggests that home-grown ticket suppliers should take even greater advantage of this trend by lending their sites multi-lingual appeal.
Direct spending by UK and overseas music tourists was worth £1.3 billion in 2012, including buying tickets plus transport and accommodation spend.
The report also said that indirect music tourism spending swelled this sum by an additional £914 million to £2.2 billion. This included extra spending along the supply chain generated by music tourists.
VisitBritain said more than four in 10 (41%) of people in an average live music audience were music tourists. These visitors spent a typical £910 while attending festivals and £602 attending concerts. In contrast, domestic music fans spent, on average, £396 while attending festivals and £87 at concerts. The music tourism sector provides at least 24,000 jobs for the UK economy each year, the report also found.
Glastonbury near Pilton, Somerset, is the UK’s biggest festival. Attracting 135,000 spectators every year, it is as big a staple of the English summer as Wimbledon, Pimm’s and the Henley Regatta.
Its all-singing, all-dancing website does justice to this in just about every way: news, info, line-ups, history, gallery, contact details, shop, even worthy causes; everything, in fact, except one thing: it doesn’t have a multilingual website.
Ticketmaster’s colourful website is similarly gifted yet afflicted. The ticket-supplying giant shifted over 142 million tickets worth a total of over £5 billion in 2007. Its site comes with multilingual facilities, yet with a very big but.
It assumes that you want to only buy tickets in your own country and doesn’t offer translated content on its US and UK sites. Fine, if you’ve got a flying phobia or only like concerts in your homeland.
Meanwhile, VisitBritain chief executive Sandie Dawe is in no doubt about the potential to cash in on the UK’s music tourism boom.
Dawe said: “This report confirms that the UK’s music scene has significant international appeal and that music tourists spend lots of money and travel across the whole of Britain.”
She says the opportunity should not be lost to raise awareness of the UK’s “amazing” music scene around the globe.
Dawe added: “This report will act as a catalyst for us all to ramp up our activity and forge better relationships with festival organisers, promoters, venues and producers worldwide.”
Jo Dipple, chief executive of industry body UK Music, which helped prepare the study, strongly hinted that directly targeting overseas music tourists in their own language is the way forward.
Dipple said: “Music tourism created over 24,000 jobs. Just think what we might achieve with policies that specifically target the music tourist in this country and abroad.”
She added that it is obvious that the UK’s music industry is doing a great job for the British economy, encouraging 6.5 million tourists who generated £2.2 billion last year.
So it’s clear that the UK music tourism can walk the walk. Now it’s time to talk the talk – whatever the language.