Simon Baldwin

Simon has worked in communication his entire career. Qualifying as a journalist in the ’80s, Simon set up his own agency in 1988, aged just 22. Over the next 30 years, Simon’s business and subsequent incarnations managed the communication for clients in the retail, tourism and leisure industries across the U.K.

His primary focus was in retail: his company won a reputation for delivering successful marketing initiatives for shopping destinations. Through the 1990s and first decade of the 21st century, his company worked with more than 100 shopping centre and retail parks across the country as well as working closely on numerous initiatives in the towns and cities where they were based. They also delivered creative services and marketing solutions for a number of UNESCO world heritage sites and leading tourist attractions.

In 2007, Simon sold his agency and created the UK’s first ‘destination marketing’ team, becoming one of the UK’s earliest adopters of social media for commercial use – initially for shopping centres and then for the benefit of town and city destinations.

On this front, he was a mentor on the Portas Pilot project, founded MallToMobile (to support the UK’s shopping centre industry) followed by SOCIALiSTREET (demonstrating how towns and cities could best utilise digital and social media).

In 2012, he set up Destination66 Ltd with his wife, Susan. Three years later, they launched Town & City Social as a unique service designed to support the digital and social media planning, delivery, monitoring and evaluation for places – be they towns, cities, private landlords or Business Improvement Districts.

In 2017, Destination66 created Destination Digital with a specific remit of designing and delivering ‘digital improvement districts’. In the same year, having helped to partner the launch of Smarter Scotland, Simon led research into Scotland’s Digital Towns Programme, the findings of which were published in 2018, making recommendations for the creation of a new BID model – a Digital Improvement District.

In the same year, Destination Digital were tasked with running a 15-month demonstration project to prove the concept. In September, the demonstration phase began – CuparNow in Fife, Scotland – financed through seed corn funding by the Scottish Government, Digital Scotland & Fife Council.
In December 2019 – after a seven-week long ballot – businesses and organisations across the town gave their support to CuparNow. The model was proved: sustainable delivery of managed, integrated digital and social media communication and services in support of multiple audiences. It created the world’s first Digital Improvement District with a five year term (2019-2024). Funded by businesses and organisations in the town, the results from the pilot were published in a Toolkit (with the Scottish Government for approval and adoption) to help shape how digital is deployed to support towns across Scotland. The same information was submitted as evidence for the Scottish Government’s 2020 Towns Review.

A regular commentator on media channels, Simon advises place managers (and their key partners) on how they can best use the collaboration of available technology to support their destinations’ businesses, residents, visitors and community stakeholders.