Key Steps Along The Way
Auditing the venue against ecotourism certification criteria identified improvements required to attain Gold certification for the entire venue, as a back to nature, unplugged and off-line themed ecotourism experience. A nine month work program was completed to prepare the venue for application.
A complete revamp of the internet presence was needed to significantly increase visitor traffic, content and social media engagement and conversion metrics. We completed this in time for ecotourism certification.
After attaining Gold Certification for the ecotourism experience, we proceeded to build a solid reputation on this standard. Analysing the wellness retreat demographics and popular trends demonstrated the venue would benefit from renovation, addition of more infrastructure and accommodation. We conducted all renovations and additions in-house.
Flor and Marion actively supported Drummin Wood being listed with the EU Natura 2000 biodiversity conservation program. Application was sought to utilise the woodland in a controlled manner, a conditional approval granted in 2015 by the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
Now having the business moving in the right direction, time resources were increasingly available to enhance the experiences and services. Additional professional development was identified for key players, particularly Marion and Flor, to develop further retreat and educational activities, including child education and adult oriented therapies.
Our management strategy enabled longer term, and more timely volunteer organisation. This created greater continuity and reduced costs and training demands. Instigating longer term project, maintenance and financial planning lead to better team communication, long term vision and more well informed operational decision making.
Notable points in the journey:
- Organised the Drummin Woodland Walk Day to create awareness about the conservation area and generate support for developing an interpretive trail. The day was supported by ecologists, scientists, Ecotourism Ireland and local people.
- Application made to National Parks and Wildlife Service to develop interpretive trail, conditional permission granted 2015.
- Application made to Ecotourism Ireland for certification of the Crann Og Experience, the venue awarded Gold Standard July 2015 to July 2017.
- Re-application to NPWS for interpretive trail plus forest school classes and guided nature therapy walks, conditional permission granted May 2017. Conditions included monitoring program with annual reporting.
- Application made to Ecotourism Ireland for re-certification, the venue again awarded Gold Standard July 2017 to July 2019. The venue achieved one of the highest audit scores that year.
- Most infrastructure and accommodation facilities were renovated and additional units made on-site.
- The largest event we managed ran for 10 days, comprising a retreat for 5 days, followed by a gathering for 2 days of up to 92 people, then followed by a smaller retreat of 3 days.