Skip to Content
Events
this week
Discounts & Offers

Northamptonshire Tourism Network

What is Northamptonshire Surprise?

Established in 2016 we are a destination partnership, run by and with business leaders, providing a solution to what tourism and hospitality businesses need in the current climate.

Championing Northamptonshire as an exceptional visitor destination and a great place in which to live and work, our focus is on supporting and promoting tourism businesses, attracting visitors and footfall, and encouraging the sustainable development of the sector.

Note our next meeting dates and hosts as follows.

March 12 - Tourism and Hospitality Recruitment Fair at UoN Waterside Campus, Northampton - 1100
March 28 - Delapre Abbey - 0900 to 1100

May 09 - Kettering Park Hotel - 0900 to 1100
June 24 - Fawsley Hall Hotel & Spa - 0900 to 1100

Our Governance and Funding Model

We are a co-operative hosted by Made in Northamptonshire. Our operation is financed by:

  1. Sponsorship from our generous headline sponsor Archways Real Estate
  2. Campaign funding from the North and West Unitary Councils
  3. Tourism Business Network membership, ranging from hotels to visitor attractions and food and drink
  4. Grant support which has included funding for core operating costs from Visit England, North and West Northamptonshire Councils, and for digital projects from SEMLEP

Our work is directed by a highly experienced and representative voluntary board:

Rachel Mallows - Director, Made in Northamptonshire & Weetabix Northamptonshire Food & Drink Awards (Chair)
James Miller - Fine Art Consultant (Deputy Lieutenant and previous Chair)
James Saunders Watson - Lord Lieutenant and Owner, Rockingham Castle
Oliver Wicksteed - Chairman, Wicksteed Park
Cllr Andre Gonzales de Savage - Chair, Adrenaline Alley and Chairman, West Northamptonshire Council
Andrew Hollett - General Manager, Kettering Park Hotel
Richard Clinton - Chief Executive, Delapre Abbey (Vice Chair)
Helen Miller - Assistant Director Enterprise & Employability, University of Northampton
Phil Martin - Curriculum Manager, Culinary Arts and Travel and Tourism, Northampton College

Working to the board we retain a freelance place marketer, Kate Dent, on a part time basis.
Kate has substantial experience of developing and delivering tourism strategies and DMOs, strong public and private sector background, and excellent PR links having secured for example this excellent national coverage:
View article in The Independent
View article in The Telegraph
View article in The Telegraph June 2023
View article in The Telegraph January 2024

Our History

£1million in-kind funding secured since 2016 when we were set up to:

Support and promote businesses and the sector
Attract visitors, footfall and opportunity; via destination partnership, marketing and campaigns
Develop a brand new destination website
Encourage the sustainable development of the sector

 

2016-17

  • DMO board, Surprise brand, destination website and social channels established
  • Funding secured from Northamptonshire Lieutenancy, University of Northampton, Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP)
  • Supported by big brands and partners e.g. Silverstone, Royal & Derngate, Nene Valley, Made in Northamptonshire, Heritage Forum, Northampton Forward, SEMLEP
  • ‘Best Statelys’ campaign launched at World Travel Market in London, and locally at Boughton House
  • Endorsed and signposted as the county’s tourism entity by Visit England - read endorsement from England Director, Visit England Andrew Stokes

2018-19

  • Funding secured from Northamptonshire Lieutenancy, community grants, University of Northampton, industry partners 
  • Business membership scheme and Destination Plan developed and adopted by the sector
  • 100 Churches and Food and Drink campaigns attracted and dispersed audiences and opened up new spaces 
  • 2020 Arts campaign developed

2020-21

  • Northamptonshire Lieutenancy, SEMLEP grant funding, Visit England DMO Resilience funding, Additional Restrictions Grants all enabled our support for business to be sustained throughout the pandemic
  • Our website became the local channel for Visit England’s national campaigns and business support
  • ‘Lets all be vocal about buying and supporting local’ helped promote the safe reopening of the sector
  • Our first Northamptonshire Tourism Round Table was hosted by University of Northampton. This brought together Visit England and strategic partners to discuss the De Bois Review of DMOs in England, and the importance of a ‘one voice’ approach
  • Northamptonshire Tourism Strategy subsequently drafted and Go Northamptonshire! reopening campaign launched, both with support from North and West Unitary Councils

2022-2024

  • Funding secured from Northamptonshire Lieutenancy, industry partners
  • Tourism Business Network launched in collaboration with Made in Northamptonshire, Heritage Forum, Hoteliers Forum, Northampton BID, University of Northampton, Northampton College, Tresham College, Moulton College, Northamptonshire Growth Hub
  • Go Northamptonshire! and new seasonal campaigns developed, both with the backing of North and West Unitary Councils
  • Our first Tourism & Hospitality Careers Fair attracted 300 students to an event held at the University of Northampton’s Waterside Campus
  • Thanks to the sector’s commitment and collaboration we had a great year of working creatively together to support each other and engage visitors and communities in 2023. We look forward to developing more such opportunities as a partnership-minded community in 2024.

Looking Forward

This is a time of huge challenge for the tourism sector with many food and drink, hospitality and attractions businesses potentially fighting for their future. Cost of living increases and energy cost uncertainty is having a significant impact on tourism and the wider sector. We are committed to bringing partners together to talk through what we can do collectively to support.

At the same time, with the recent growth in the staycation market and the potential for a Northamptonshire tourism partnership to join a network of accredited Local Visitor Economy Partnerships (LVEPs), it is also a time of great opportunity. Northamptonshire, as a whole county with which the potential visitor is familiar, is well positioned to capture an increasing share of the domestic visitor market if it builds on the work that has already started and is yielding results.

We hope to continue working with partners to continue to spread a single compelling vision of the county and deliver the benefits not only of a growing and successful visitor economy, but also of its treasures in the context of the growth agenda; a location of choice for visitors, residents and businesses alike.

Don’t hesitate to contact us if you would like to find out more about our work on [email protected].

This page was last updated in January 2024.

Northamptonshire Tourism Business Network

Run by and with the county's tourism and hospitality business leaders, we come together to help sustain and grow businesses in an enabling network. Our focus includes

  • Creating opportunities for new connections and collaborations
  • Promoting businesses and the sector
  • Attracting visitors and footfall

For more information please contact Kate on [email protected]

Our Partners

Our Network

Our Network

Our Network

Our Network

Our Network

Lets be Social

Follow us on Instagram for what's here, what's on, news & events from our wonderful partners.

Your login details have been used by another user or machine. Login details can only be used once at any one time so you have therefore automatically been logged out. Please contact your sites administrator if you believe this other user or machine has unauthorised access.