In early July, the iconic British Airways i360  in Brighton re-opened to the public as the UK began its ease out of lockdown.  I (virtually) sat down with Anna Prior, the head of Marketing and Trade sales at the BA i360 to see how it’s been going for them a few months in. 

Welcome back and congratulations! I guess the first question is, how does it feel to be back?

Thank you! We were delighted to be able to reopen on the first possible day for visitor attractions, the 4th of July.  All of our team, front and back of house, were thrilled to be welcoming visitors once again after three months of lockdown.  

Our team were brilliant at rigorous planning and then the swift implementation of all our new COVID-19 secure operating procedures.  These changes to our operation now feel like the norm after more than two months of being open.

What has the response from the public been like to your re-opening – are the numbers what you were expecting?

The visitor numbers have been more or less what we were anticipating given our reduced capacity to accommodate social distancing on the pod.  

We are located in Brighton, a brilliant city for post lockdown experiences.  The city’s hospitality sector has done a great job of getting itself back up and running to welcome both locals and tourists. 

We are extremely fortunate to be located right on Brighton’s seafront, which means plenty of fresh air and sea views, which is what visitors have been seeking post lockdown.

Is there anything different about your current audience compared to pre-COVID?  Have you seen any new patterns in how people are booking?

We have seen growth from millennials – the audience that was predicted to return to leisure settings the fastest after lockdown.  Our young person ticket, for people aged 16-24, has served us well for this audience, ticket prices start from £10 online.

We have also seen a growth in our Sparkling Wine Experience ticket sales – there is demand from visitors to upscale their BAi360 experience by pre-purchasing a glass of Nyetimber’s English sparkling wine.

Of your activity, what do you think has been working best for you to drive bookings? Is there any advice you would give to other attractions who are looking to attract more visitors?

Our digital advertising has definitely driven bookings. The results have been excellent this summer with some measures outperforming last year.

Digital advertising has allowed us to be nimble in our advertising – this has been critical given the unprecedented times i.e. we didn’t know what visitors were going to respond well to.  Digital marketing gives us the ability to quickly tweak our message so that we can make sure it’s successful.

How do you think COVID-19 has influenced your future digital strategy?  What do you think you have learned?

We’ve learnt that visitors are now much more likely to make an online booking now because we are operating at reduced capacity.  

We’ve also seen our upgraded tickets selling well and visitors are keen to treat themselves, so we’ll be developing more enhanced package tickets through the Autumn. 

We’ve also seen our audience engage with our content that focuses on sustainability, supporting local businesses and itineraries that outline how to spend a day in our wonderful city of Brighton.

What’s next for British Airways i360, is there anything exciting we can look forward to?

Yes, lots!  We’ve just taken our catering in-house so we’re developing the menus and targeting over 80% of our purchasing from local Sussex suppliers.  We’re also planning new event experiences for the Autumn / Winter period.

To find out more about the work Digital Visitor does with British Airways i360, you can read the case study here. For any more information on how we can help your business fill your available booking slots, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.