How destination marketing is changing the world one area at a time

23 February 2024

Destination marketing is transforming bricks and mortar into vibrant and connected communities across the UK. Bolstering experiences and commercialising key aspects of a destination, Sam Kidby, Associate Director at Locale and the brains behind some of the UK’s most-loved destinations and communities, reveals its true power.


What is destination marketing?

Simply put, it’s the promotion of a place to attract footfall. It is the practice of establishing a particular area as an interesting destination so people near and far will want to visit. We can put an area on the map through a range of tactics including PR, social media and managing an ongoing programme of regular activations to take place throughout the year. By doing so, you’re unlocking the potential of an undiscovered area through thoughtful and relevant marketing.


What’s the impact?

There are several, but for me, the biggest one is breaking down barriers between developments and the community that uses it. When you bring people together with common interests and passions, you enable them to connect better and enjoy spaces. This builds a sense of ownership over the longer term, a desire to return and the end result is the ongoing commercial success of the destination. By generating interest in a particular area, destination marketing ensures that people who live, work or play there will feel a true sense of belonging and pride.

Leake Street by James French

Leak Street Arches. Photo by James French

How does it work?

Destination marketing allows us to truly bring a place alive. Sometimes a particular area may be empty and needs to be filled or it may have lost its sense of community so must be rebuilt based on the culture, appetites and interests of the people living and working in and around that space.


Our approach

We take a consultative approach from the very beginning. As an extension of the team, we take the time to understand the area we plan to create into a thriving destination. We get to know all the stakeholders, the surrounding communities to accurately formulate a strategy that will guarantee success.

CalicoCalico at Stratford Cross, formerly IQL

Destination successes

Two cases which we have had the pleasure of working on are Stratford Cross (formerly IQL) by Lendlease in Stratford, London and Leake Street Arches by LCR in Waterloo, London.

For Lendlease, we needed to transform IQL from a construction site into a fully occupied ‘live’ area of Stratford. By 2022 IQL was ready for its largest summer of activity with the Your Stratford Summer programme, celebrating the 10-year anniversary of London 2012. We engaged with charities, colleges, community groups and local stakeholders to deliver 60 wellbeing activities and events, 43 cultural performances and a 10-week pop-up temporary cinema showing 67 films. Once an empty area, our work meant we were able to replace the noise of drilling and digging with the sound of laughter and conversation, and most importantly increased dwell time, engagement and footfall.

At Leake Street Arches in Waterloo, we turned this hidden gem into a destination that people actively seek out to experience the artistic genius of modern graffiti. By using digital marketing, we utilised the power of social media and revamped the website to showcase London largest leal graffiti wall to a growing online community that’s local, national and increasingly global. We engaged with local artists by running a competition for an Artist in Residence and even reached people in lockdown with Buskival, a virtual festival that was part of our long-running #LeakeStLive programme. Since then, Leake Street Arches has become a highly sought-after destination, seeing the return of the Red Bull Road Gap Competition, the launch of Chase and Status’ new album and even visits from Dancing on Ice and Strictly Come Dancing.


Ultimately, destination marketing is a great way to attract people to an area of great interest so they can engage with each other and enjoy the amazing sights, sounds and experiences that these brilliant destinations can offer - together. When people feel a true sense of belonging and pride, they are more likely to stay and continue that endearing sense of community. 



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