Thursday 23 December 2010

Loch Lomond Members Buyout Near Completion

Not quite your standard membership takeover I'd suggest but then again not exactly your normal golf club. Minimum Equity stakes of £20,000 the BAA Chairman to front the club with a who's who of corporate names on the club committee, sorry on the board of the Off Shore Limited Liability Company.

According to financial reports, "Loch Lomond Golf Club in Scotland, whose members include Prince Andrew and Sir Sean Connery, is close to being bought out of administration by its 800 members. The members will buy the golf club, including the freehold to Dundonald Links, for £35.1m, including a £10m loan from Bank of Scotland Corporate, now part of Lloyds Banking Group.

To fund the purchase, members have been asked to contribute varying amounts of cash, with a minimum of £20,000, for an equity stake in a new company, Loch Lomond Members Golf Club Limited, a limited liability company incorporated in the Cayman Islands, that will own the club. The sale is due to complete by 31 December."

I know nothing about off shore limited liability companies running golf clubs in Scotland but I guess that they will not be collecting this year's members sub by monthly direct debit!

Do please let us know if your local golf club has considered off shore limited liability status as the solution to dwindling membership revenues... and we're not sure that Brodick Golf Club counts as off shore.

Wednesday 22 December 2010

Crianlarich Hotel Chooses Bookassist

Bookassist are delighted to announce that The Crianlarich Hotel in Perthshire(but more accurately at the branch of the A85 to The Trossachs and the A82 north to the West Highlands) have started using Bookassist Online Reservations ahead of Christmas.

The 36 bedroomed three star hotel approached Bookassist less than a fortnight ago and in that time have been convinced not only of Bookassist's approach to online reservation but the support given to them by supportive account management.

It's no longer enough to just add a booking engine into a hotel website and watch the reservations come in; the booking engine must be part of a strategy that combines content with design and search and then conversion will come.

Sue McCulloch, Bookassist Account Manager for the Highlands, explained. Since the first approach from the hotel we have explained exactly what Bookassist can do for them from control of their rooms, rates and availability through to an understanding of how our code embedded into Google Analytics will help them understand how their conversion rate is improving. We've liaised in the past few days with Pole Position and Aviemore Business Solutions - the hotel's web designers and SEO teams - to ensure that the booking process is full embedded into their website with no linking out or diminishing of their branded and designs and just as importantly is found."

"At Bookassist we see booking engines being embedded in to sites which then link out of the site immediately thereby reducing conversion and even losing the booking to local competition. We explain to all our hotel partners that the Bookassist strategy is to drive increased levels of Direct Sales from their own website and reduce the dependence - and cost - of third party websites. We have no interest in driving traffic through high commission travel sites"

The Crianlarich Hotel joins a growing list of satisfied hoteliers across the length and breadth of Scotland who recognise that Bookassist provides a cost effective solution to growing their direct room sales on-line.

Ian McCaig who heads up the Scottish operation from Ayrshire welcomed The Crianlarich Hotel onboard, "One of the first properties we signed up for Bookassist in Scotland was The Drovers Inn which is just down the road and it has proved to be one of the most successful converters of business in the country. We look forward to working with the team at The Crianlarich Hotel to build their on-line sales in a similar way.

For more information on how your business may benefit from utilising Bookassist visit or contact 01292 521404

Tuesday 21 December 2010

Ski Ticketing Deals From Glencoe and Glenshee

What a great idea... not only have Glenshee and Glencoe put some great ticketing offers out there this season they have added in golf in the summer to a fantastic all year round deal.
Golf and skiing. Pure genius and probably something you'd find in a host of Alpine resorts. 

As for the skiing both Glencoe and Glenshee have an advantage card priced at £40 which then gives you 40% off your tickets throughout the season - it pays for itself after five visits.

The resorts are both selling season tickets at the low price of £170 for adults (children and seniors £99, students £110, families of two adults and two children £440). The first 500 applications received at either resort will receive a pass valid at both centres.

A year round Golf and Ski pass is also available for £485. You can choose to ski / board either Glenshee or Glencoe and enjoy a years golf at Glenisla Golf Centre, recently voted one of Scotland’s favourite courses.

The Glenshee Beginners Pass has been improved this season too. Valid on the Dink Dink, the Plastic and Claybokie its only £10 for adults, £6 for juniors under 18 and £8.50 for students.

For full pricing and current snow conditions check out the centres’ websites:

New Route from Knock to Edinburgh

flybeFlybe announced on the 16th of December a new expansion from Ireland West Airport Knock by introducing a 3-times-a-week service to Edinburgh in Scotland.

The new flights between Knock and Edinburgh will commence on the 19th April 2011 and tickets are already on sale from €36.00 one way including taxes and charges.

Flights from Knock to Edinburgh 
  • 12:40 - 13:55 Tuesday and Thursday
  • 15:45 - 17:00 Sunday
Flights from Edinburgh to Knock 
  • 11:00 - 12:15 Tuesday and Thursday
  • 14:05 - 15:20 Sunday
The new route is a significant boost to flight access from the West of Ireland as the Airport is now connected to a key city in Scotland and compliments the significant access already available to major regions in the UK including Birmingham, Bristol, East-Midlands, Leeds, Liverpool, London (Stansted, Gatwick and Luton) and Manchester.

Chief Commercial Officer for Flybe, Mike Rutter said: "With this brand new route we’re not only giving travellers from Edinburgh the opportunity of booking low cost direct travel to one of Ireland’s most popular holiday and pilgrimage destinations but also offering convenient and direct access to and from the rest of Scotland from the West of Ireland, a win-win for both economies. Despite the economic challenges of the past 12 months, Flybe has continued to expand its route network and we remain committed to expanding our route network and to providing the widest range of convenient and affordable regional services for our passengers."

Monday 20 December 2010

Golf Tourism Scotland Appoint New Chair

Trade body Golf Tourism Scotland (GTS) has named its new chairman, appointing board member Lee Derrick to the post following the retirement of Nick Hunter.
Derrick, who heads specialist marketing agency Blue Spinach, has an enviable track record, racking up more than 15 years' experience working with Virgin Atlantic, VisitBritain and Golf & Resort Management.

He says of his elevation to chairman: "Being a part of GTS has been a wonderful experience and to be given the opportunity to take the organisation forward is one that I will savour.

"I hope I can carry on the good work started by Nick and the other board members by championing our members' concerns and aspirations."

Hunter, who held the post for two and a half years, oversaw the establishment of GTS as a key player in Scotland's lucrative tourism sector. He recalls: "As far as high points, there are quite a few to choose from, but the fifth-anniversary celebrations in St Andrews sticks out."

Friday 17 December 2010

SGU volunteer award announced

According to Martin Dempster in The Scotsman, The Scottish Golf Union is urging clubs to nominate unsung heroes for a new award to be presented at a ceremony in February.
"We've seen so many fantastic examples of volunteering at clubs across the country that we felt it was important to recognise the commitment of these individuals," said Andy Salmon, Scottish Golf Development Manager. "Like many sports, golf relies on the contribution of so many people at a local level and so we are delighted to launch this new award."

The Scottish Golf Volunteer of the Year will be announced at the XOS Scottish Golf Awards in Glasgow.

"This will be a fantastic occasion and it's important that we honour golf club members involved in the grass roots of the game as well as those performing at the highest level," added Salmon.

"We look forward to receiving many nominations from clubs and while there can only be one winner, it will be great to recognise all our volunteers' outstanding efforts through this award."

The leading five nominees selected by a judging panel will be invited to attend the event, with the winner being announced on the night.

Wednesday 15 December 2010

Award For Ayr Racecourse

Ayr Racecourse has been voted Racecourse of the Year 2010 for Scotland and the North East by The Racegoer’s Club - the seventh consecutive year the course has won this coveted award.

Ayr's great run began back in 2004, the first full year current owners Alan Macdonald and Richard Johnstone were in charge - and Scotland’s premier track has won the award every year since.

Huge improvements have taken place at the track over the past seven years, including the new £4.5 million Ayrshire Suite, the introduction of new fine dining restaurants including the Roman Warrior and the Chancellor Carvery. And there’s also been huge changes made to the Parade Ring and Winners Enclosure, plus the creation of the Champagne Lawn and Gardens - the perfect place to be on a hot summer day!

The honour from The Racegoers Club is highly valued by the team at Ayr, as it comes from a Club whose 6,500 members are all active racegoers. Ayr has now won the award 17 times since 1990.

Lindsey Smith, Sales and Marketing Manager at Ayr Racecourse said: “We are so pleased to have won this award, which underlines our status as one of the top racecourses in the UK. To have won the award seven times is a great feather in our cap, and we thank everyone at the Racegoers Club for voting for us.”

Western House Hotel is adjacent, indeed integral, to the racecourse and is also going from strength to strength. The hotel has recently switched its online booking system to Bookassist increasing the control of offers, rates and availability to visitors to Ayrshire racecourse meeting

Saturday 4 December 2010

The Homecoming Gathering Debacle

A more reasoned and perhaps fully detailed analysis is required but surely our office was not the only tourism and hospitality based business that watched on with incredulity at the excuses put forward by the First Minister and Mike Russell regarding the Gathering event last year. Lending money with no guarantees, with no credit checking and most obviously no real discussion with anyone outside of the "Yes, this is a Great Event Alex" crowd. There was no general belief beyond the inner wheel that The Gathering was ever going to be the major economic saviour that they had outlined ahead of the date. Not all criticism was retrospective and it certainly was not just cynics or political opportunists knocking it.

The even had displacement written all over it and the fact that it was a private venture with no liability should have precluded such disasters. The role of Scottish Enterprise, Event Scotland and the government in "underwriting" this private event is truly galling for so many operators who even then were struggling to secure finance from banks who were doubting the viability of their restaurants, hotels, attractions.

Once again the main issue that is clearly flagged up here is the Scottish public bodies inability to determine whether tourism and hospitality is to be private or public sector lead. Public bail outs of flagship events, ongoing losses for winter celebrations, absorbing of loss making public private partnerships. When is it going to change for real?

Perpetuation will simply continue to lead to a host of messed up, mixed up projects which will continue to cost the public purse money and fail to contribute positively to the private sector development of our product.

There is a Scottish Tourism Leadership Forum being held in Perth on the 9th of December. It is to be hoped that the group will have the courage to look towards radical review, overhaul and redistribution of decision making, strategy and policy. We cannot simply go on adjusting targets, distribution vehicles and minor organisational changes.

Hotel Revaluations

The owners of Westerwood Hotel and Resort near Cumbernauld has cut the property valuation by more than 25% to £16.5m. According to The Herald the company have written down its valuation by £6 million following a second successive year of losses.

Latest accounts for Westerwood Hotel Limited show the valuation of the land and buildings at the Cumbernauld venue was reduced to £16.5m at the end of the financial year to January 3 from £22m at the start of the period.

The company said the adjustment followed an independent valuation of its freehold properties by Christie & Co surveyors, completed in July. Westerwood Hotel has 148 bedrooms and an 18-hole championship golf course.

The company made a pre-tax loss of £3.2m in the year to January 3, compared with a loss of £6.2m in the preceding year and turnover increased by 2.3% annually, to £5.9m.
The business of revaluation, and knock on impacts, is one that we may seek some expert comment in the New Year, so if you know anyone who would be willing to give us an overview of the Scottish Hotel market place please let us know. We did find an interesting PDF (if you understand Discounted Cash Flows and how to balance "Distressed Values") which may shed some light if you're a bit worried about your own property value. Read "The Art and Science of Hotel Valuation in an Economic Downturn"

Read the Herald Article

Wednesday 1 December 2010

Integrating Your Online Marketing Tools

Increased integration of on-line marketing is becoming more and more important and quite rightly. And it's not just about saving time it's about practically using the tools you have a t your disposal to reach the audience you're targetting.

There is now an opportunity like never before to reach out to your current client base and utilse them through their own socail medai to promote yur products and services and it's not rocket science either. No marketing degrees, not £400 a day charges, just common sense good practice.

An example I hear you say?

England 2018 - Yes or No?
Well we all know thanks to Panorama that England are bidding to host the 2018 World Cup.... as one of our clients, we thought "Wonder what The Tartan Army think of the bid?" That was two hours ago...

Now we know that from the hundreds of responses received on-line that the opinion is actually split a lot closer than we thought it would be. The question and answer however are irrelevant, it's the methodology that's important.

The Poll Question...
Using ConstantContact we first of all created a Poll question - the email marketing package, which we've been using for must be a decade, is not only perfect for e-newsletters but also for guest questionnaires and in this instance a poll question - "Do You Want England to win the 2018 World Cup Bid"

The Blog Article...
Once the poll question was created it was uploaded to the Tartan Army blog.

Took about two minutes to do by dropping the piece of code given to us by Constant Contact into the blog editor.

We wrote a little bit of text and a headline and some tags for the search engines.

The Blog article was published and it was now live online.

The Facebook Page...
We then took the link to the Blog article and put it up on the Tartan Army Facebook page - which had just over 3500 users at the beginning of the process - and encouraged users to vote.

The link took them directly to the vote which was now live and hosted on the blog page.

The aim was not only to target the current Facebook users but build more "likes" from the articles around it.

The one thing for sure is that by tomorrow morning we'll know exactly how many more signed up and how many viewed the article.

The E-Newsletter...
Going back to ConstantContact we then created a quick and simple email which went out to more than 3000 on the mailing list - not only can we track how many were sent but we can also identify how many were opened, how many were duff addresses and most importantly the level of click throughs to every link.

Also worth noting, the option for those receiving the email to post it straight to their social media pages and the links in the email themselves encouraging visits to the Blog and the Facebook pages.

Developing Your Contacts...
Remember you need to take every opportunity to promote your on-line distribution channels and make sure you cross promote all ways of keeping in touch - for example note (on the left) that on the Tartan Army Facebook you can choose to Join their List using the ConstantContact app.

Building all your lists requires ongoing time and management but with the right direction you can achieve some stunning results with just some focussed professional support.

What About Your Business?
There is little doubt that we could all do with an additional marketing push in the coming twelve months. Your on-line marketing strategy is becoming increasingly affordable and easier to understand. Hospitality businesses across Scotland can communicate more effectively and efficiently than ever before and with some simple planning of your marketing strategies (on and off line) you can deliver some stunning results of your own.

Imagine the above was fully integrated with your online booking engine using Promo Codes to deliver targeted guests to specific dates and promotions....

Find out more information