They're an important part of the heritage tourism experience. Bed-and-breakfasts often use historic bulidings. Here is an example of creatively using historic properties to generate income.
The Landmark Trust in England offers accommodations throughout England, Scotland, and Wales in historic castles and special architectural treasures. These "self-catering" accommodations offer kitchens and home-like facilities. "Self-catering" means that no meals are provided. The usual rental period is three to four nights during the off season and seven nights during high season.
In the British Isles, this strategy brings in revenue to perpetuate the maintenance of important historic resources. Using these architectural treasures as vacation properties provides a stable income for upkeep, and it also increases the public's ability to enjoy tthem.
Any owner of historic resources that can be used for accommodation can learn from this organization. See http://www.landmarktrust.co.uk
The Biltmore Estate is a study of how an entrepreneur can turn a large heritage resource from a non-revenue generator into a heritage tourism destination. In an article: "The Cost of Doing Business" by Edward Cone in Sky Magazine, October 1996, William Amherst Vanderbilt Cecil described how he turned a 255-room white elephant into a heritage tourism destination grossing 100 million dollars a year in revenue. The article states: "At a time when public funding is tight and competition for entertainment dollars intense, Biltmore's entrepreneurial model is increasingly pertinent to America's historic museums and attractions and increasingly studied by them."
"There's a real culture change ahead for the people who run sites devoted to historic preservation," says the younger Cecil. Dick Moe of the National Trust said: "You have to be more entrepreneurial to survive in the '90s and beyond."
The Biltmore Estate was falling into disrepair in the late '50s and '60s, and by 1960 was losing $250,000 a year, with the barn, not the house bringing in most of the property's income. However, in 1978, Bill Cecil took possession of the house and began to capitalize on the economic opportunities of the day. With superb timing he recognized that travel and tourism was a burgeoning business and set about to restore the grandeur of the Biltmore. Cecil reasoned that attention to detail and the quality of a preservation project would pay for itself many times over as visitors met the price increases that accompanied each significant improvement. Cecil recognized early that when people go on vacation they are looking for an uncommon experience. The Biltmore employs a Disneyesque strategy of providing visitors with experiences which make them feel they've received value for their money--and then cashing in on that good feeling by selling products that let them carry a bit of the feeling home.
The Biltmore has developed cross-promotional and marketing strategies. In fact, a cover story in the November/ December 1995 issue of Historic Preservation magazine called Biltmore "a Model of Private Enterprise." The Biltmore Estate is continuing to develop new attractions. Managers are currently considering the addition of lodging. Biltmore products are available for sale in the gift shop, which stocks reproductions from the house and other souvenirs, priced somewhat higher than your basic shake-and-snow bauble. The Biltmore label wine continues to be an important seller. Overall profit margins at the company are now running at nine percent. Visitation is high in spite of the remote location of the Biltmore Estate.
Bill Cecil said, "Government should be the preserver of last resort. You do best without absentee management, with the full interest and efficiency of people who are directly involved."
Today's Biltmore has expanded in many directions, taking advantage of the name to market a wide variety of products. See the website to get an idea of where this has gone.
Bill Cecil makes these comments on the website:
What began in 1895 as my great-grandfather's estate continues to be an amazing experience for today's visitors....
Biltmore is still family-owned, and we are passionate about our mission of preservation through self-sufficiency—a philosophy embraced before the first stone was ever put in place.
We remain self-sustaining through innovation, creative thinking, and listening to our guests who continue to tell us they want more ways to connect with Biltmore. Wine was our first foray into offering a taste of Biltmore. Now, you can experience life as a Vanderbilt guest at our Inn on Biltmore Estate. You can also inspire your own surroundings with a line of home furnishings, decorative accessories, home building products, and live plants.
And so, full circle, we're all about home—welcoming and celebrating family and friends—and extending the spirit of Biltmore beyond our 8,000 acres.
It was true in 1895 and it remains true today.
In the scenic Big Bend region of Texas, a grouping of 19th-century adobe forts has been reborn as Cibolo Creek Ranch. Guests can enjoy the area's rugged beauty while staying in lodging that integrates modern comforts with a devotion to historical accuracy. Cibolo Creek is equal parts working ranch (a few hundred rare purebred Texas longhorns still graze the 25,000 acre spread), wildlife preserve, historical landmark and luxury resort.
This is another example of a heritage tourism destination contributing to a heritage industry. This guest ranch provides an opportunity to partake in an authentic setting while at the same time ensuring revenue for the long term preservation of the forts.
This ranch is also committed to high levels of documentation based upon photographic evidence. Photos found in the Library of Congress were used to determine the height of the original door steps, which is just one of many issues which underscore the determination not to neglect the slightest detail.
Whatever remained has been reused, including mortarless stone fences that have been re-stacked from the rubble of the originals. The mud pile ruins of eroded walls have been recycled into new adobe bricks. The owners spent nearly two years researching the site before beginning a five-year restoration.
Not all landmarks and heritage attractions can be turned into heritage economic development engines, but this is one. See the website.