Get Free Business Support - Applications now Open
The EXPERIENCE Development Programmes delivered by Visit Kent and the Kent Downs AONB provide expert support for businesses, individuals and organisations to develop new off-season Tourism Experiences.
Our Kent Downs Experience Maker Programme welcomes applications from farmers, land owners, land managers and rural tourism businesses that live or work in the Kent Downs AONB or along the North Downs Way who want to build experiences based on landscape, nature, local produce or rural life and culture. So if you'd like to attract more outdoor enthusiasts to your business and/or you have a fabulous sustainable tourism idea then read on and find out more. Applications are open now until 15th November.
The Kent Downs Experience Maker Programme
Our programme is designed to help existing and budding rural businesses and individuals to develop incredible experiences for visitors to the Kent Downs and North Downs Way. We've set out some of the key requirements and eligibility criteria below and in the information pack which you can download.
Apply in September!
Applications close on 15th November and we won't be running another one so please get your application in as soon as possible.
What's in it for you?
If you become a Kent Downs Experience Maker you will benefit from;
- Support through the whole process from various experts.
- Being part of the Kent Downs Experience Maker Collection. With the recognition and tourism value of a nationally designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and/or a National Trail.
- Opportunities to diversify your business model with support.
- Free consumer marketing promotion through Kent Downs AONB, National Trails and project partners, featuring in targeted seasonal campaigns.
- Distribution of your product through international and domestic travel trade where appropriate.
- Connections and networking with cross-sector rural and tourism businesses through the Kent Downs and Visit Kent networks.
All at no cost to your business.
Experience Maker Workshops
Expert guidance on how to turn your idea into reality and access to our Experience Maker
1-2-1 Expert Consultation
Helping you refine your experience and support with any launch or implementation problems you might face along the way.
Product & Market Testing
Market testing of your concept with consumers and travel trade providing valuable data on key audiences, creative and messages that work.
Using our experience of the market we can support you with content writing, photography, campaign planning and promotion.
Launch & Promotion
Support with taking your experience to market through our marketing and partner channels and the option to be including in project campaigns.
We held our introductory webinar on the 11th February led by Chris Brant from Unmissable England. He explained more about the programme, what makes a great experience and how you can work with us to turn your idea into a reality.
Don't worry, if you missed it you can watch the video recording on this page or by clicking the button below...
What do we ask for in return?
Please see below a summary of the key criteria we'll be using to select businesses most suitable for the programme, you'll find fuller details in our application information.
All applicants must...
• Commit to our ‘Promise to the Landscape’ and show desire to respect and help protect the landscape.
• Operate in the Kent Downs AONB or within 5km or 3 miles from the North Downs Way National Trail.
• Complete relevant awareness training e.g., Kent Downs and North Downs Way landscape awareness and ‘Welcoming Walkers and Cyclists’ training within 6 months of signing up. These will be available online.
• Ensure their product is open and operating all year round or have the potential to do so.
• Dedicate sufficient time and resources to developing the product, commit to 121s and contribute to marketing and promotions.
To find out more about the EXPERIENCE project for visitors and businesses visit our EXPERIENCE project page or for more information about the many benefits to businesses, organisations and individuals with a passion for nature then check out our Business Information page.
How can you get involved?
Simply review the application information on this page and on the application information document and if this programme applies to you then complete the application form and return it to firstname.lastname@example.org by the 15th November.
If you have any queries in the meantime please join our webinar on the 13th October or contact Rebecca Rees at the Kent Downs AONB, Rebecca.email@example.com.
15th September - Applications open
13th October - Q&A workshop
15th November - Deadline for Applications
22nd November - Notification to successful applicants
3rd December - First Experience Maker Workshop
31st January - Experience Maker 1-2-1's begin
1st February - Grant applications open for accepted applicants
28th February - Grant applications close
We want visitors to respect, protect and enjoy our beautiful Kent countryside to find their space for the nature and the outdoors combined with a range of excited new experiences.
Equipment Grant Applications Opening Soon
We'll soon be launching a new equipment grant scheme of up to £3k with Kent Downs EXPERIENCE project funding 69% of the cost of EXPERIENCE equipment. This is open to businesses that have been accepted on;
- The Kent Downs Experience Maker Programme.
- Visit Kent's Experience Development programme, are located in the Kent Downs or within 5km of the North Downs Way and are developing an experience that compliments the landscape.
So if you plan o joining the Experience Maker programme keep an eye out on when applications for the grant are open.
How is EXPERIENCE funded?
EXPERIENCE is a €23m project co-funded by the Interreg France (Channel) England Programme, which has committed €16m from the European Regional Development. Projects are funded in six areas across England and France: Norfolk, Kent, Cornwall, Pas-de-Calais, Compiègne and Brittany. Close collaboration across the six regional projects ensures insights and best practice are shared.
EXPERIENCE in Kent is match funded by:
Ashford Borough Council
Canterbury City Council
Dover District Council
Folkestone & Hythe District Council
Gravesham Borough Council
Kent County Council
Thanet District Council
Tunbridge Wells Borough Council
Swale Borough Council