I’m Siobhán Burke and I established Wordhoard in 2010 when I began working with West Cork communities on their tourism strategies.
My background is in Higher Education, rather than tourism or retail, but my focus has always been on helping people to get their point across and make a connection!
After writing a Ph.D. focused on 20th-century Irish literature, I worked as a lecturer and researcher at Trinity College, Dublin; Staffordshire University; and other HE institutions. I also gained lots of experience of project management as the UK’s bid to widen access to Higher Education was rolled out.
But, it was my family’s 2008 move to West Cork which introduced me to working with industries where story-telling, communication, and strategic thinking all have powerful roles to play!
Tourism and Recovery
The research, writing and teaching skills I had gained in Higher Education quickly proved useful as communities worked to harness the potential of tourism and the Wild Atlantic Way to help them recover from the economic crash that had just caused such devastation to rural communities. My work in West Cork has since led to a wide range of research, strategy development, training, and development work with businesses and organisations across Ireland.
Developing Sustainable Tourism
Responsible tourism development involves a capacity for strategic thinking and a realistic assessment of the opportunities and threats tourism can pose to communities and the environment. It draws on grassroots insights, and its strategies need to be owned and acted on by communities themselves. It requires creative thinking and an ability to engage with the world from the visitor’s point of view.
Much of our work at Wordhoard is focused on helping small businesses and communities to make the most of the opportunities created by tourism brands like the Wild Atlantic Way and Ireland’s Ancient East. Today, we offer tourism consultancy services to a range of tourism businesses and organisations across Ireland, helping them to develop coherent and attractive strategies for recovery and growth.
Supporting Retail SMEs Online
Irish tourism depends to an unusual degree on contributions from providers whose primary business lies outside tourism.
Farming, food production, and craft businesses deliver some of the most innovative experiences available to visitors to Ireland today, and so the supports Wordhoard provides for them often involve strong consideration of retail and online sales strategies, and the efficiencies that can help them to manage businesses online and off.
The Covid-19 pandemic forced many small rural businesses, in tourism and retail, to move their operations online. The growth of small-scale, online retail made possible by TOV funding was hugely positive, but ‘getting online’ and ‘succeeding online’ are not the same thing.
Wordhoard has been working with a range of SMEs to provide them with the strategy and skills they need to differentiate their offers and grow their online businesses for the long term. We are currently developing a new offer for online retail businesses which will launch in late 2021. Watch this space!
We keep editing international relations work too. It’s part of our broader commitment to empower marginalised communities across the global community. And editing international relations, is – it turns out – one way to feel like you have travelled the world…
Recent Speaking/Training Workshop Engagements
- “Activating the Dublin Coastal Villages Plan” (Online, March 2021)
- “Activating the Vikings” (Waterford, December 2019)
- Craft Visitor Experience Development Workshop (Cavan, November 2019)
- “Ways to Maximise Tourism Around Norman Heritage Sites” (Wexford, March 2019)
- “Sustaining Tourism Through Experience Development” (Máire Ní Síthigh Autumn School, Courtmacsherry, October 2018)
- “Developing Craft Tourism – Global & Local Perspectives” (Laois, October 2018)
Siobhán works at lightning pace and her enthusiasm is matched by her excellent knowledge of the Irish tourism industry and offer. She brings creativity, passion and unmatched editorial skills to all her projects. Whether you are writing grant proposals, interpretation or devising regional brand offers, Siobhán will hone and develop your work to perfection. she is also a pleasure to work with and her infectious enthusiasm for product development builds confidence and engagement in your team.
Brenda Comerford (Irish Heritage Trust, Johnstown Castle)