Monday 28 June 2010

Golf Forum Final Programme of Speakers

The final programme for Golf Tourism Scotland's ‘Gimme Five’ Forum on Tuesday 6th July at Murrayshall House Hotel & Golf Courses in Perth has been announced.

Why come along?

Anyone running a business needs to think ahead and to an extent crystal ball gaze into the future to determine what moves to make to survive and thrive. It is even more difficult when the pressure is on you and you alone! GTS have put together an array of speakers from different parts of the tourism market and briefed them to speak on what the next five years holds for their sub-sector. By collating this knowledge you should be better able to make important decisions for the future of your business.

Who is speaking?

The morning will feature speakers from the Public Sector: Eddie Brogan (Scottish Enterprise), Malcolm Roughead (VisitScotland) and two from membership organisations – Andy Salmon (Scottish Golf Union) and Lee Derrick (GTS).

The afternoon will feature those from the private sector representing four different sub-sectors of the golf tourism industry: Seamus Coen (Macdonald Hotels) talking about the accommodation situation; Max Hare (Golf Scotland) providing an insight into the European golf market; Ken Gill (Today’s Golfer) giving us an indication of how the media see things and, finally, Kevin Lewis from Machrihanish Dunes giving us the golf course perspective.

To get this breadth of knowledge in one place on one day is unique. You can be the real beneficiary, but only if you take part!

Who should attend?

Staff, managers, directors or owners of golf businesses should not miss this event there will be something in it for everyone. It is ideal for anyone involved in the business of GOLF. Importantly, you don’t have to be a GTS member to attend.
When is it being held?

Tuesday 6th July. Registration starts at 9.30am, with the Forum proper starting at 10.30. The morning finishes with a buffet lunch at 1.00, while the afternoon session closes at 4.15pm.
Where is it taking place?

Murrayshall House Hotel and Golf Courses near Perth (

What does it cost?

There is a flat rate for the full day, which includes the morning and afternoon sessions, coffee/tea, buffet lunch and golf, if you want it!

Delegate prices are:
  • GTS Members = £35 + VAT
  • Affiliated Members* = £55 + VAT
  • Non-GTS Members = £65 + VAT
* If you are not a member of GTS, but a member of an Affiliated Organisation
i.e. GCMA, CMAE, BIGGA, PGA, take advantage of this special price.

Included in the price is a FREE round of golf over either the Murrayshall or Lynedoch courses once the event finishes. However, if you wish to take advantage of this you must advise us when booking your delegate place(s).

What to do next!

To book a place(s) contact

Loch Ness Lodge Achieve Gold

Bookassist Scotland client, The Loch Ness Lodge at Brachla in the Scottish Highlands has struck gold in the quality stakes!

The mansion, which has an award-winning fine dining restaurant, has been awarded Gold Star status through national tourism organisation VisitScotland’s quality assurance scheme.

The gold star award was introduced by VisitScotland last year to highlight establishments within the Quality Assurance Scheme that strive to exceed customer expectations and take an innovative and proactive approach to customer care.

The Loch Ness Lodge has been awarded five Gold Stars, making it one of only 21 in the Highlands to be awarded the coveted classification by VisitScotland, in recognition of their exceptional hospitality and service.

Proprietor Scott Sutherland said: “It is a great achievement for the team to be awarded five gold stars.

“We work very hard to meet, and indeed to exceed, our guests’ expectations and we are thrilled to have our efforts acknowledged in this way.”

Scott Armstrong, VisitScotland regional director for the Highlands, said: “Establishments such as the Loch Ness Lodge really are the leading lights in the region when it comes to exceptional quality and service in accommodation provision. Restaurants with rooms, bed and breakfasts and guest houses play a huge part in bringing millions of visitors and billions of pounds to our economy, so it is right that they are recognised in this way.

“The rewards of these Gold Stars will be reaped not only by these hotels, but also by their customers and by extension Scottish tourism as a whole, as we work together to encourage visitors to Scotland to stay longer and spend more.”

Ian McCaig from Bookassist in Scotland said, "We'd like to congratulate Loch Ness Lodge on this award. They've been been using the Bookassist booking engine for three years now and we were delighted that they recently exteded their contract with us and we look forward to helping them build their online sales over the coming years."

You can find out more about Bookassist and how it can help your hotel build its online sales by visiting the Bookassist Scotland website

Friday 25 June 2010

Prestwick Ready For 150th Anniversary Celebrations

Prestwick Golf Club inaugurated the first Open Championship in 1860. The winner was Willie Park from Musselburgh with a score of 174 for 36 Holes, 2 shots clear of Tom Morris the Keeper of Prestwick’s green. Prestwick hosted the first 11 Championships and then jointly hosted it with The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St.Andrews and with The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers. Prestwick hosted its last Championship in 1925 when Jim Barnes from USA won.

Prestwick Members will celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the First Open Championship in July 2010. All living Open Champions have been invited along with the Captains of all the Clubs that have hosted an Open Championship to a Dinner with the Members of Prestwick Golf Club to celebrate this special occasion on Saturday 10 July 2010.

As part of the celebrations Prestwick Golf Club will be dressing the room with 40" x 30" canvasses blown up from original images of the last Open to be held over the course.

Some of the cleaned up historic images were required by an East European magazine who are covering the anniversary and it was made easy with access to high resolution images easily from Scotland's West Coast Golf Links on-line gallery.

On and off line media can request access to the galleries for print and website publications simply by mailing us at

Thursday 24 June 2010

Hotel Integration with Facebook demoed at Bookassist4

Bookassist has demonstrated its Facebook App for hotels at Bookassist4 - the 4th Annual Bookassist Hotel Industry Seminar, held at the Conrad Hotel in Dublin on June 23. Search Optimisation Specialist Paul Ferry from Bookassist outlined the key approaches for hotels on social media to build brand awareness and stressed the need to take a long term view of social media as a customer service issue, not just a revenue issue.

Bookassist's integration with Facebook, featuring booking engine, room descriptions, hotel facilities, customer reviews, and room price grid

"Social Media gives you an unprecedented opportunity to project your customer service outside your establishment, where all the world can see it", said Paul Ferry. "With our Facebook app, you can feed your hotel details, room types, booking capability and customer reviews right into Facebook automatically, straight from your website booking engine, and access your fanbase directly."
The cross-over between social media channels and mobile access in particular was highlighted in the closing talk by Bookassist's Des O'Mahony, where industry figures show very large growth in mobile social media usage and in particular in the use of geolocation features.

Bookassist's Facebook App will be available for Bookassist hotels in Scotland shortly. Ian McCaig from Bookassist Scotland  was delighted with the new functionality, "It couldn't be clearer that Scottish tourism is increasingly leaning on on-line marketing for more of its direct business. Bookassist is allowing accommodation providers throughout Scotland to integrate their on-line marketing strategies at an increasingly higher level with our booking engine. The Facebook integration comes hard on the heels of ChannelConnect, increased PMS development and complements the already powerful integration of a world class online booking solution. We are all extremely excited about how much direct booking business can be driven through the Facebook world."

Contact Bookassist Scotland for more information on how you can increase your direct online sales from your hotel

Monday 21 June 2010

Summer Golf Offer at Barassie Links in Ayrshire

There's a great summer golfing offer available for visitors to Kilmarnock (Barassie) Golf Club near Troon in Ayrshire from June right through until September.

The course, which is host to the 2010 British Boys Championship and last year's Final Open Qualifying is offering a 20% discount from Sunday through until Friday on tee times between 2pm and 3.30pm.

The stadard midweek green fee is £57 so a fourball can save more than £40!

Tee times can be booked by calling the club on +44 (0)1292 313920 or by booking online

Thursday 17 June 2010

Golf Tourism Scotland confirms speakers for special all-day forum

Golf Tourism Scotland (GTS) has confirmed a world-class line-up of speakers for its special all-day forum timed to coincide with celebrations marking the trade body's fifth year of campaigning. In a forward-looking agenda, the prestigious panelists will reveal what issues they believe will influence the golf sector over the next five years.

The presenters charged with making their predictions include Scottish Enterprise's head of tourism Eddie Brogan, VisitScotland's director of visitor engagement Malcolm Roughead (OBE), Scottish golf development manager for the SGU and SGLA Andy Salmon and Lee Derrick, GTS board member and owner of marketing agency Blue Spinach.

From the private sector, Seamus Coen, regional general manager at Macdonald Hotels, will be giving his insights as will Max Hare of Golf Scotland, a tour operator serving a host of European countries. The latest experts to join the impressive line-up are Ken Gill, from Today's Golfer, who will give his views on how the media are preparing for the future, and Kevin Lewis of Machrihanish Dunes, one of Scotland's newest golf resorts.

Hosted at Murrayshall House Hotel in Perthshire, the all-day national forum will be a potent mix of trend spotting and inspired projections, as GTS chairman Nick Hunter explained. "We've given the speakers a challenging brief to identify the key trends they believe will influence golf in Scotland in the coming years. It's an intriguing theme that will help the entire sector prepare for what lies ahead."

The GTS 'Gimme Five' national forum will be staged at Murrayshall House Hotel on Tuesday 6 July.

You can find out more about GTS at their website or watch the video for more information.

Tuesday 15 June 2010

The Edge Produce Golf Tourism Scotland Corporate Video

We're delighted to have been invovled in pulling together a new corporate video for Golf Tourism Scotland who represent more than a hundred and fifty business in the sector across Scotland. The Edge scripted, story boarded and interviewed the main contributors producing a six minute short presentation aimed at promoting the work of the body to current and potential members.

Steven Timpson, from The Edge lead the production of the video, "It's not the first time we've done video production having done work previously for some public sector clients but this was an interesting piece given the content. It's always great working with professional video companies and on this project we were blessed with the excellent efforts of the team from Studio Scotland in Inverkeithing who worked with us with the interviews at The Inn at Lathones and the "live" shoot at VisitScotland Expo."

The editing was done in house at The Edge Studios in Ayrshire bringing together the script, voiceover, imagery, stills and the footage into a final product

The result we hope you agree is a presentation that clarifies the role of the organisation and indeed inspires the member and potential member to become more involved

Friday 4 June 2010

VisitScotland Changes?

I've resisted the desire to commit words over the past few days which would have resulted in a knee jerk reaction about everything that has been said and written since last weekend's revelation that Phillip Riddle's coat was hanging on a less than reinforced coat hook.
What is required now is not another navel gazing review of the organisation that has by default become the watchword for tourism and hospitality in Scotland but instead a root and branch appraisal of what is required to fulfill the potential of what is described as an industry but is actually a collection of businesses whose interests sometimes overlap.

The Scotsman's leader comment today was disappointing.
"WHAT is the big plan for Scottish tourism? How should the publicly funded VisitScotland lead change in the sector? And what should be the priority for VisitScotland – short-term campaigns or long-term strategy?
These are the issues that lie behind the clumsily handled news of the departure of chief executive Philip Riddle."

The opening question has validity and not only needs asked but more importantly answered. The second two unfortunately miss or perhaps even highlight the issue. VisitScotland has become seen as synonymous with Scottish Tourism and it's not. Scottish tourism is not about a bureaucratic centralised organisation and VisitScotland cannot and should not be seen to be leading change. That must be the role of businesses stepping up to the plate to meet the challenges.

As for the priority of VisitScotland? Well it must be too divest itself of all of the roles that it should not be involved in.Destination marketing has changed for ever and the recognition has not fully seeped through the ranks that they are still involved in things they shouldn't be. Tourism is fundamentally an export business and its marketing and development is no different - in broad terms at least - to any other sector trying to develop its exports.

The big picture questions about the need for such a large organisation and what in actual fact it should still be taking responsibility for is actually quite simple to analyse.

What do they do currently? Could that job be done more efficiently and effectively by someone else in either another public sector organisation or by the private sector themselves? Quality Assurance? Exhibition and Event Management? Online Room Sales? Training and Development? Website Sales to SMEs? Tourist Information Centres? Printed Material Advertising Sales?

Anyone who has worked in the areas of hospitality and tourism is well aware that the curse of the "industry" is perpetual duplication and an inherent inability to collaborate properly. It leads to investment in displacing visitors from one destination to another and therefore deflects from attracting new markets. This is not VisitScotland's fault directly but Phillip Riddle did oversee on his watch the restructuring of Scottish Tourism; a restructuring that has lead to a VisitScotland that communicates with itself better but has failed to communicate externally its aims and objectives.

VisitScotland remains as fragmented as the industry it purports to serve. It has some superbly strategic and visionary individuals within its walls who provide a superb service to Scottish tourism but even the most ardent defenders of VisitScotland must be wondering whether they may be able to perform those tasks better in a different environment.

Public sector supported destination marketing has still theoretically got a place in the marketing and product mix that is Scotland but is it different from whisky, or medical research or education? Does it need a separate organisation any more? Would it work better under as a specialist export division within a Scottish Executive department or SDI even?

The real fear is that this change in Chief Executive is just another political dogfight and little more. A change of leader rather than a change of direction? God help us.

Whatever the outcomes of the current infighting, we have to stop talking about VisitScotland and start talking about Scotland. All too often it appears that marketing campaigns are promoting the brand of VisitScotland or derivative and not the destination.

It really does have to change Mr Mather.