It’s widely acknowledged that businesses in the tourism and hospitality sectors have been some of the hardest hit following the challenges of the pandemic and Brexit. 

West Sussex County Council has prioritised funding for small and medium-sized (no more than 249 employees) businesses to receive specific innovation support to recover and boost growth.

If you are…

  • a leader or senior manager in tourism or hospitality sector with responsibility to drive innovation in the business
  • determined to recover and grow following the challenges of Brexit and the pandemic
  • looking to create a new, or adapt an existing, service, product or business model
  • a small or medium-sized business or Social Enterprise including Community Interest Company or Charity with a trading arm, based in West Sussex

then this completely free programme could be for you!

Developed in partnership with Experience West Sussex, this programme has been designed to provide you with sector specific insights and innovate tools to help you turn challenges into market advantages.    

Our Horizons programme is a series of inspiring, thematic and sector specific workshops, created to share cutting-edge research and insights to help develop innovative approaches that will enable you to build resilience to national and global challenges within your business.

This programme consists of bespoke masterclasses and workshops in the following areas:

+ New technologies for enhancing business operations and visitor experiences

+ New marketing strategies and innovative social media

+ Artificial intelligence (AI) for small businesses

+ Enhancing your customer offer

+ Sustainability and Net Zero support

+ Diversity and inclusivity to attract new staff and customers

Participants will problem solve challenges with peers through two additional, expert facilitated Action Learning Set sessions.

The programme culminates with an opportunity to further explore new business ideas and opportunities through a research and development project, working with subject experts from the university of Brighton or Sussex, to the value of up to £12,000, at no cost to the business.

Innovation in the Tourism and Hospitality sector 

Recording from our pilot programme in Winter 2022

The Programme – Starting Autumn 2022

 The programme is explained in more detail in our introductory webinar below, where businesses also hear from industry innovators and experts on how to attract new customers and enhance their experiences.

Don’t worry if you missed the launch or first workshops you can still attend the remaining sessions in the series!

Marketing Strategy

Session one – Marketing planning and innovation

2 November – 9.30am-12.00pm

Venue: Bognor Regis

Delivered by Dr Adam Jones and Liz Hawkins

This workshop will facilitate attendees applying the principals of marketing, including utilising market research and marketing planning tools to explore, identify, develop and evaluate a unique selling point and sustainable value proposition for their business.

Session two – Innovative use of social media to accelerate customer retention and acquisition

8 November – 9.30am-12.00pm

Venue: Arundel

Delivered by Dr Adam Jones and Liz Hawkins

Building on session one attendees will be supported in mapping their customer journey to identify opportunities where innovative interventions using social media opportunities will help to retain and attract new customers.

Delegates will receive a tool to map the customer journey and identify opportunities to use social media to retain and attract new customers.

Enhancing customer experiences with immersive experiences

1 December 2022 – 10.00am-1.00pm


Delivered by Karina Rodriguez Echavarria

This masterclass will explore what we really mean by the term immersive experience and how it relates across the tourism and hospitality industries. It will also look at how visual and sound technologies are adding new dimensions and sensorial layers that enhance visitor and customer experience.

“Very enjoyable event – had the opportunity to try an VR headset.”

Stephen Bell, Cycle Brighton

Artificial Intelligence (AI) for small businesses

7 December – 10.00-12.00pm


Delivered by Paul Levy

In this short but practical and interactive conversation, full of real examples and stories, we will explore what AI is and how some of its tools are ready for use now in our businesses.

From chatbots to sentiment analysis, from augmented reality to metaverses, you will hear real stories from how businesses in the UK and beyond are taking the first steps in artificial intelligence to enhance and innovate their product and service offerings.

It is early days for AI, so perhaps it is time for you to get up-to-date and maybe slightly ahead of the curve.

Enhancing your customer offer: water, wellbeing and the great outdoors

9 December 2022 – 10.00am-1.00pm


Delivered by Dr Catherine Kelly

Once you have explored your customer experience and journey from the previous session, this masterclass will help you to consider new ideas and developments to your offer to existing and new customers. It will help you to maximise your unique selling points, new ideas and collaborations. 

This session will be most useful for those running hotels, campsites and other accommodation providers as well as those involved in organising tours and experiences, it addition to businesses located on or near the coast.

“Excellent and well worth the visit to this workshop. Food for thought for our offering and will look now at potentially partnering with local businesses offering well-being experiences.”

Huluki Sussex Stays

Attract more customers and staff – equality, diversity and inclusivity

19 January 2023 – 10.00am-12.00pm


Delivered by Diversity and Ability 

This masterclass will explore the business benefits to understanding and appealing to a truly diverse audience in your customers, suppliers, partners and other stakeholders.

Looking at this both from within an organisation and the people you recruit and work with, and the many other business relationships you have, this masterclass will support you in understanding the links between diversity and inclusion, innovation and business growth. 

Becoming a more sustainable business

Delivered by Dr Ryan Woodard

19 January 2023 – 1.00-4.00pm

Venue: Aldingbourne

This masterclass will unpack the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and consider how these can improve your business operations, efficiency and enhance your brand. It will also explore the challenges and practical actions you can take towards embedding sustainability in your business, including managing waste and resources.

New technologies to enhance business operations

Delivered by Dr Rageshree Sinha

25 January 2023 – 10.00am-12.00pm


This masterclass will explore how some of the latest Internet of Things (IoT) and User Experience (UX) technologies are changing how visitors and customers interact, engage with, and use businesses in the sector through innovations that make the customer experience easier and more convenient.

Action Learning Sets

Set 1 – 23 November – 09.30am-12.30pm


Set 2- 31 January 2023 09.30am-12.30pm


This programme will include two Action Learning Sets to support participants with the challenges and ideas arising from the sessions.

Action learning is a specific process where individuals get together with a facilitator to share business and organisational challenges and get the benefit of pooled advice and expertise from peers

To get the maximum value from this unique opportunity businesses will need to undertake a minimum of 12 hours of support – this could be made up of masterclasses, workshops, action learning and 1-2-1 support from our Innovation Advisors.

If you have any questions about the RISE project or the Horizon programme, you can get in touch with the team at

Access up to £12,000 to support your project development

Through our funding we can directly pay for the time of our top academics in the areas of expertise you need to work directly on your projects. It’s a simply process that includes our Innovation Advisors working with you to scope your project and map the skills and expertise needed -with the unique opportunity of having access to two pools university experts to choose from.

Please note: The Access to Expertise part of this programme is only available for eligible SMEs based in West Sussex.  All projects will need to be completed by 31 March 2023.

If you would like to know more about Horizons speak to our Innovation Advisors.

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Programme Date:

Oct 31, 2022

Jan 31, 2023

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