Tuesday 29 March 2011

What Value Public Sector Tourism Information?

I think there may be a few more local press pieces like the one last last week in the Paisley Daily Express regarding the closure of the Local Tourism Information Centre or Visitor Information Centres as they are now labelled.

The VisitScotland office in Gilmour Street apparently closed its doors last week with tourists who want to find out about Paisley’s attractions being advised to head to the town hall instead.Meanwhile the local Chamber of Commerce insist more needs to be done to promote Paisley as a tourist destination with their president being quoted, “Tourism is one of the big potential growth areas in Scotland and, in Paisley, we have some amazing buildings, such as the Abbey, Thomas Coats Memorial Church and the library and museum. A lot of people maybe didn’t even realise we had a VisitScotland office as its profile wasn’t high enough."

Labour's Hugh Henry, who served as Paisley South MSP prior to this week’s dissolution of the Scottish Parliament, said closing the Gilmour Street office will “downgrade” the town as a tourist destination. It’s not good enough to have Paisley seen as an after-thought to services delivered from Glasgow. I want VisitScotland and Renfrewshire Council to vigorously promote and market Paisley as a stopping-off point for tourists. I am concerned that this is yet another blow to Paisley’s economic well being and I hope that VisitScotland and the council will think again."

The crux comes with is question however that followed however and therein lies the problem. He said, “Does this suggest that VisitScotland and the council don’t see Paisley as worthy of promotion?” 

No it doesn't suggest that at all but what it does raise is the need for politicians and business leaders to understand the dynamics of tourism information channels in the 21st Century. The days of visitors piling off the train at Paisley Gilmour Street looking for a bed or even information has long gone. With the internet, destination management organisatinos, mobile technology and online reservations the vast majority of visitors have a very good idea of where they are heading before they even leave their own country. Even if you remove technology from the equation you still have private sector leaflet distribution companies ensuring that information is distributed at all of the access points to almost every area of Scotland and in almost every reception in every hotel. Each and every bed and breakfast is at least as well placed as any TIC or VIC to promote the area. Most better so.

Booking a bed ahead has been overtaken by online reservations - even on mobiles - and increasingly VICs have become retail outlets for guide books and Scottish nicknack's.

Visitscotland have probably recognised that there is little value and probably no return on investment from VICs and there are many in the sector who would suggest that the whole network be closed or offered to the private sector if there is seen to be value. The VisitScotland chairman stated earlier this year that the role of VisitScotland was to do what the private sector couldn't.

I'd suggest that the distribution of tourism information is a private sector role and not one which needs to be undertaken with public money.

Anyhow, there are many who will disagree - mostly beneficiaries of referrals - but really is it the role of the public sector to fill those bedrooms at any time never mind during a recession when other service cuts are hitting deep? I'd suggest not.

Monday 28 March 2011

How Have Facebook Fan Pages Affected You?

Facebook Fan Page Upgrade – Latest Changes

We're delighted to republish an article written by Bookassist's Paul Ferry outlining the latest changes to your hotel's Facebook Fan Page after recent Facebook upgrades, and shows how you can take advantage of them.

Since March 10th, 2011 Facebook has globally upgraded how you can use your Fan Page. In this article we detail some of the changes that are important to your hotel and also other changes to note.

Use Facebook as The Hotel
The biggest change in the recent Facebook upgrade is that you can now interact with fans as your hotel’s Fan Page rather than as your personal login. To do this simply go to "Account" in the top right-hand corner of your screen, click on "Use Facebook as Page" and select the relevant Page in the pop up.

The advantages of using Facebook as a Page are that you can interact with the hotel's fans and leave comments on other pages as the "hotel" rather than as yourself. Other features include the ability to respond to fan reviews as the "hotel" and also the ability to tag the hotel itself in photos, events and videos.

Another great feature is that you can get notifications sent to you when a fan interacts with your hotel's fan page. You can edit notification settings by going to "Edit Page" and selecting notifications from the left hand menu.

These recent changes to Facebook Pages represent a step in the right direction to help optimise your ability to interact with your fans.

Fan Page Display Changes
The old Fan Page layout displayed tabs along the top but these have now migrated to the left hand column under the profile picture, see image below.

The effect of this change is yet to be seen as quite a lot of hotels had set up customised tabs which have now taken a less prominent postion on the page, so conversion on these customised pages may be affected. Yet another new feature is that your recent images are displayed just above the wall similar to a personal profile page, see image below. This gives the page a much more inviting feel. You can alter the images by hovering over them and using the checkbox to delete, and another image will be selected from your existing photo albums. (You can also turn off the image strip completely in wall settings.)

Exit Static FBML Pages - enter iFrames
For developers and app users perhaps the most significant change to note since the 10th March upgrade is that Facebook no longer supports the ability to create Static FBML Pages (customised pages) which many service providers had built for enhancing Facebook Pages. Instead it has placed emphasis on embedding external web pages into Facebook using iFrames. This new approach is very flexible and is another move to make Facebook the one-stop shop for all interaction with your customers.

Bookassist on Facebook?
Watch this space for some exciting Bookassist announcements relating to Facebook services shortly!

For more information on how Bookassist can help develop your online marekting strategy call 01292 521404 or email Bookassist Scotland

Sunset Golf on Scotland's West Coast Golf Links

Turnberry, the world’s first golf resort located on the Ayrshire Coast, will relaunch its highly popular sunset tee‐off times from next week as the clocks change and the long summer nights stretch out ahead.
With the Ayrshire sunset in April touching down at 7.56pm and with daylight lasting until 10.05pm in June, golfers are presented with a new four hour window to take to the course with tee off times starting from 3pm to as late as 6pm.

The sunset rates start on Monday 28 March 2011 with a round at the world‐famous Open Championship Ailsa course costing £95. The sister course, the Kintyre, can be played for £55. Tee Times can be booked in advance with no restrictions.

Stewart Selbie, General Manager at Turnberry Resort, commented; “Sunset golf is very popular because of our West Coast location. The views across the Irish Sea to Ailsa Craig in sunset hours are simply stunning. The colours of the course, the sea, the sky and the beach come into sharp contrast and in dramatic light provide the most incredible scenery. Quite a backdrop while playing, what I believe, is the best golf course in the world.”

Earlier this month, The European Tour announced that Turnberry will stage the 2012 Senior Open Championship for the seventh time, making it the most popular venue for the tournament in its history.
Sunset Golf at Turnberry is available seven days a week until 30 September 2011. For further tee time information contact 01655 334 032 or email turnberry.teetimes@luxurycollection.com

You can also book your Ayrshire accommodation online with a number of great golfing hotels in Ayr, Troon, Prestwick and Irvine.

Thursday 24 March 2011

Government Move Into Airline Business?

Been out of the office for a couple of days so missed the press copy in the Press and Journal on the 22nd of March headlining that the "Scottish Government will buy two Twin Otters for island - Estimated £4million deal has guaranteed flights for the 1,200 people of Barra"
The article explains that the Scottish Government is buying two planes to run flights to the beach runway on Barra with the estimated cost of £4million.

Apparently the planes will be owned by the Government and airlines would be invited to bid for a subsidy to operate them.

Now I am not up to speed with the set up for transport to and from the Western Isles but this comes in the same day that a private sector ferry operator announces the relaunch of a small ferry service between Campbeltown and Ballycastle and the same week that it was announced the the Zeebrugge to Rosyth link will not be re-establisjhed as a passenger route.

If the government is moving into buying planes for these routes could an argument not be made for the purchase of a passenger ferry for the Northern Ireland route to benefit Argyll? (The SNP government made it clear that subsidising this service was not an option at this time.)

Or how about just buying some places and leasing them to Ryanair for some new routes into Prestwick?

Seriously though, if the governement are buying planes for others to use should it not be questioned as a strategy? Great for Barra and this is not intended to knock them but this unstructured interventionism seems to be politically driven rather than strategically so.

Another recent article has highlighted the benefits of the reduced cost of travel on the ferry "The interim report produced for the Scottish Government found that visitor numbers had grown by 24% after the introduction of the Road Equivalent Tariff Pilot in October 2008."

But this Road Equivalent has not been applied to other routes. Displacement again?

The need for Barra planes for the local economy and for emergencies may or may not be a necessity but it only seems to flag up again the fragmented nature of the (tourism) transport related issues.

Maybe one of the parties will be writing up a joined up access and transport realted tourism strategy ready for a big launch ahead of the election.

Perhaps we shouldn't hold our breath...

Friday 18 March 2011

Ryder Cup Agreement Signed at Gleneagles

An important milestone was marked today in the preparations for The 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles when the Host Nation Agreement was signed on the 1st tee at the PGA Centenary Course by Scotland’s Minister for Public Health and Sport, Shona Robison, and Ryder Cup Match Director, Edward Kitson.

The official contract between Scottish Ministers and Ryder Cup Europe outlines the main terms, conditions and commitments agreed between the parties in relation to the staging of the event in three years time.

Robison said, “The Ryder Cup is the biggest team event in international golf, and one of the main highlights of the sporting calendar, so we are greatly honoured to be hosting such a prestigious tournament at Gleneagles and I look forward to seeing the world’s finest golfers doing battle on Scottish soil.

“With around 250,000 expected over the three match days and a global audience of 600 million viewers, this is a tremendous opportunity to show what Scotland has to offer, not to mention the huge economic benefits for Scotland.”

Signing the agreement on behalf of Ryder Cup Europe, Kitson is delighted with the planning and preparations that are well underway at the ‘Home of Golf’. He said, “We are delighted to be working closely with such supportive and committed partners in the Scottish Government, the key National Agencies, led by EventScotland, and Gleneagles Hotel, the host venue for The 2014 Ryder Cup.

“We have been impressed by the diligence of all the parties involved to gather as much information as possible from their attendance at every Ryder Cup since 2004 in order to create an exceptional event at the Home of Golf. Since last year, our plans and preparations for Gleneagles have accelerated and we look forward to cementing an already robust relationship as we head towards 2014.”

Since being awarded the prestigious event back in 2001, EventScotland - who are leading the delivery of the event for the Host Nation - along with other key partners have been observing the last four Ryder Cups to learn from them and maximise the best possible arrangement for Scotland. A ‘transfer of knowledge’ session was held in January of this year with representatives from Wales, Ryder Cup and Scotland to pass on the lessons learnt from the 2010 event at The Celtic Manor Resort.

Paul Bush OBE, Chief Operating Officer at EventScotland said, “Today’s announcement is an important landmark as we move towards the delivery of The Ryder Cup in 2014.

“Scotland has an enviable track record of delivering world class events and we’re now in a position to work with all of our partners to create a Ryder Cup which will demonstrate Scotland as the perfect stage for events.”

Part of Scotland’s commitment to staging The Ryder Cup is to create a legacy around it, including staging a range of professional tournaments but also supporting the grassroots of the game. Through Clubgolf -Scotland’s junior golf initiative which was launched as a direct result of the successful Ryder Cup bid, over 180,000 have already experienced the sport since 2003. To date, 30 professional tournaments have also been supported, generating over £20million in economic benefit to the country.

The world class calendar of competition continues in 2011 with the Scottish Hydro Challenge, RICOH Women’s British Open, Cleveland Golf/Srixon Scottish Senior Open, Aberdeen Ladies Scottish Open and the Walker Cup. Scotland is committed to supporting the golf portfolio beyond 2014 to ensure The 2014 Ryder Cup has an impact far and wide.

For more information, please visit www.rydercup2014.com

Thursday 17 March 2011

Prospects good for Scottish Conventions Marketplace

Visit Scotland head of business tourism Neil Brownlee said: "The plethora of major new developments in 2011 is unprecedented in recent years, with three projects alone accounting for over £150m. With the 2014 Commonwealth Games looming, and so many high-profile projects about to launch, there is undoubtedly a renewed optimism.

"While it is impossible to make absolute projections on visitor levels, there is no doubt that with so many fantastic new facilities, Scotland is well placed to retain its competitive advantage and poised to benefit from the upturn when it comes."

Openings this year include:

Hilton Edinburgh Grosvenor, March

The hotel has undergone a £1.3m renovation, including a complete overhaul of event space the Grosvenor Club (to be renamed the Grosvenor Townhouse), located opposite the main part of the hotel. Event capacity is up to 400.

The refurbishment covers the lounge area, reception space and all 53 bedrooms and bathrooms in the annexe. A meeting space for up to ten delegates and a steel and glass reception area have also been built.

Riverside Museum, Glasgow Harbour, Spring

The new £74m Riverside Museum is being constructed beside the River Clyde. Due to open in June 2011, the futuristic structure can host a reception for 800-900 guests. Five areas, fitting up to 150, will also be available.

National Museums of Scotland, Edinburgh, opening Summer 2011 and open for corporate events from October 2011.

Located in the heart of Edinburgh, the museum is undergoing a £60m redevelopment, which will includes a new street level floor, a cafĂ© and restaurant, 16 new galleries and a Grand Gallery.

The Grand Gallery's atrium can host gala dinners for 850 people.

Stirling Castle’s Royal Palace, opening 4 June

The castle is currently restoring its 16th century palace for corporate events. Groups can enjoy medieval gala dinners and entertainment provided by costumed performers.

The castle fits 400 theatre-style, 300 banquet and 400 for a reception.


Meanwhile, construction recently begun on The Scottish National Arena, Glasgow, due for completion by 2013.

The Edinburgh International Conference Centre’s (EICC) expansion is also due for completion in 2013.

Scotland’s business tourism market was worth £827m when last recorded in 2009, up 14% on 2008. Business visitors accounted for 20% of tourists with many events coming from the pharmaceutical and bioscience markets.

View More News from Conference and Incentive Travel Magazine

Monetising Your Social Media

The $64,000 question is how effective is your social media at converting business?

Sorry? You want an answer? Hmmmm....

However even if the answer remains difficult what you need to do is ensure that you are utilising all the tools you can from all you distribution channels that is for certain.

There is little point having a Facebook or Blog that doesn't deliver relevant content; there is no point in having articles that aren't linking back to your online sales opportunities. Recognition that these distribution channels have to at least have the chance to convert is therefore a positive objective to move towards and Bookassist have announced that their Facebook apps are being tested as we speak with a view to going live in the next few weeks.

The ability to embed ConstantContact email marketing and a host of other apps into your Facebook page has seen the functionality increase dramatically and being able to take bookings and feed guest comments directly onto Facebook from your website's booknig engine is an appaetising prospect for Scotland's Bookassist properties.

In addition to Facebook Apps, Bookassist in Scotland have started feeding live availablity using a piece of JavaScript directly into client's Google blog sites. Again this makes the integration of the booking engine into multiple distribution channels that little bit more effective. You can get an idea of how well it sits on the Scottish tourism blog Scotland'sFor Me.

Web developers just need to take the code drop it in as a Google gadget and the availability that is on the hotel website is replicated on the blog. Easy.

For more information on Bookassist Booking Engine in Scotland visit the Bookassist corporate website or contact them by email

Maximise VisitScotland’s “Surprise Yourself” Campaign

Making Better Use of VisitScotland Marketing Activity


Surprise Yourself is the latest VisitScotland promotional campaign launched with a TV and Cinema campaign. The VS website explains all but here’s a potted version.

“Surprise Yourself is the new VisitScotland consumer campaign which launched on 16 March 2011 targeting the UK and Ireland market. It supersedes the previous Perfect Day, Autumn Moments and Winter White campaigns.

Following consumer research into its advertising, VisitScotland has developed a new creative strategy and concept to encourage more people to visit Scotland in the coming years. The strategy is to re-enforce the existing icons and friendly people of Scotland making it immediately recognisable that we are talking about Scotland and remind people of the great assets we have here.

The concept is Surprise Yourself, where a number of recognisably Scottish scenes will be presented with a ‘twist’ that showcases them in another way - reminding people in the UK and Ireland that Scotland is a great destination and encouraging them to reconsider/book a visit.

The surprises will encompass surprising facts for example:
  • Did you know you can visit the smallest Cathedral in Europe on the Isle of Cumbrae, which holds a programme of concerts in the summer,
  • Doing things a bit differently, for example, seeing four Edinburgh Festival shows in a single day,
  • A literal surprise, for example, suddenly spotting beehives in the Scottish hills in late summer so that the bees can benefit from the flowering heather,
  • Surprising experiences, for example, kite surfing on St Andrews beach for the first time.
The Campaign will incorporate TV, press, radio, direct mail, partner promotions, outreach and VisitScotland Information Centre activity - all activity will signpost the campaign site.

The new campaign website www.visitscotland.com/surprise will promote all regions of Scotland and things to see and do including:
  • Food and drink
  • Green Scotland
  • Get Active
  • Coast & Islands
  • Events & Festivals
  • Arts & Culture
  • City Breaks
  • Golf
  • Wildlife
VisitScotland will we’re sure be putting out a number of buy in opportunities for the industry to take advantage off including vouchers and discount codes.

However this briefing is about what you can do for yourselves to lever what promises to be a quality creative destination marketing campaign

Create Your Own “Surprise Yourself” Product

We’ve always said that tourism businesses know their own area best. So therefore it’s best that they create their own product to emphasise the surprising nature of the area or region.

Utilise the unknown or unexpected in your location, collaborate where possible and create a reason to visit that will indeed surprise the potential visitor


Using one of the examples above;
Surprise Yourself with Wind Surfing in Ayrshire

Why not join us this spring for something just a little bit different.

Ayrshire may be renowned as the Land of Robert Burns and the home of some of the world’s finest golf courses but did you know that it’s coastline provides the opportunity for some of the best Kite and Wind Surfing in the country?

Join us at The Burns Inn near Troon for our two night breaks and you can sample the excitement that the Firth of Clyde can offer you off the beaches of Troon and Barassie.

The package is inclusive of two nights dinner bed and breakfast and includes two half day Wind surfing lessons per day complete with lunch.

You can book online at our website and be assured of the best rate available.

Surprise Yourself at The Burns Inn in Ayrshire this Spring
Okay maybe a bit basic but the idea is there. Create something different that “buys in” to the VisitScotland theme of Surprise Yourself and work with the message that’s going out. There is no point fighting against it. What you now need to do is make sure that you use that theme widely in your marketing to ensure you get seen.

Online Marketing of the Surprise

With content managed websites, blogs, email marketing, Facebook and other social media becoming the norm for tourism operators, it means that very quickly your business can get your message and offer online.

That is however different from actually being found by those who are looking for you!

So with your range of Surprise Yourself products now in place you must start promoting them.

Again utilise the VisitScotland distribution channels. They will attract traffic for sure given the volume of the marketing spend. But these days there is no need to rely on them as a single distribution channel. You can piggy back on them just as effectively.

Search Terms

The volume of customers searching for VisitScotland and/or Surprise Yourself will incrementally increase as the TV adverts and support advertising take hold. To use that horrible old phrase you therefore need “to fish where the fishes are”. You want to be found for some of the traffic looking for Surprise Yourself Scotland and you want that traffic to come to you not only from third party channels such as VisitScotlnd.com but importantly you want to drive traffic through your own website.

So when you’re creating your blog page, your promo page on your website, your e-marketing mailshot you create copy and title tags that target this traffic. Your web page titles on your special offers page could look like

Visit Scotland and Surprise Yourself | Windsurfing Short Breaks | Activity Holidays Troon Ayrshire

Utilise Your Blog - Frequently

When publishing your blog article use the same practice. Title your blog Surprise Yourself with Ayrshire Wind Surfing

The article (or even better the series of articles using the theme) would include the promotional copy (with use of the phrase Visit Scotland and Surprise Yourself), relevant image and links back to your own website.

The tags should again for example include

“visit Scotland, surprise yourself, windsurfing Ayrshire, short breaks troon”

Utilise VisitScotland YouTube Video

The VisitScotland marketing campaign is heavily utilising cinema and television adverts – cunningly launched the day ahead of St Patrick’s day to counter the Discover Ireland campaign perhaps? – and they are really good pieces of destination promotional kit.

In the past they have not gone as viral as perhaps they should but you now have control of this at least to some degree.

With your own content management website, Facebook and Twitter accounts and blogs you can easily take the YouTube versions of the videos and upload them onto your website. The use of video on your promotional media can improve the attraction of your package and the visual impact of the adverts should not be underestimated.

For those with a little experience the code in the PDF Briefing document will allow you to embed the video right into your social media at a width of 450 pixels however If you wish to scale the size of the video you can do this on the VisitScotlandMedia YouTube page itself at http://www.youtube.com/user/VisitScotlandMedia

If you haven’t uploaded a YouTube Video yet onto your site or blog you can always email us for an idiot’s guide!

Surprise Yourself Full Length Advert

Link to the video : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RGbGu_BPuFY

Download Embed Code Document

Surprise Yourself Trawler Advert

Link to the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=upBRpqWEPwA

Download Embed Code Document

Surprise Yourself Seaplane Advert

Link to the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZUluOZq8qVo

Download Embed Code Document

Surprise Yourself Treehouse Advert

Link to the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ineGgmR6ADo

Download Embed Code Document

Things to Do!
  1. Create collaborative Surprise Yourself packages
  2. Communicate your packages with VisitScotland’s business managers locally  
  3. Upload the content and key search terms onto your own distribution channels including your affiliate, partner and destination sites – get it out everywhere!
  4. Embed the VisitScotland videos into your website and online channels
  5. Repeat Steps one to four on an ongoing basis!
Utilise Scotland’s For Me for Free!
Scotland’s For Me provides both a website platform and blog and Facebook distribution. We want Scottish tourism businesses to make use of it as much as possible as a complementary distribution channel so when you’ve got your first Surprise Yourself package together, send us an email with the copy, images and links and we’ll promote it via the blog for you.

Email your package to us

Download PDF version of this Guide to Surprise Yourself

Wednesday 16 March 2011

MOBO Awards Return to Glasgow

Great news for Glasgow with the announcement of a three year deal secured by EventScotland, the national events agency, and Glasgow City Marketing Bureau (GCMB) it was announced today (Wednesday, March 16) that MOBO will return to host the annual Awards ceremony again in 2013 and 2015.

MOBO ambassador and previous co-host Alesha Dixon was in Glasgow today with emerging artist Yasmin to support the announcement, Alesha commented: “I am truly delighted to announce Glasgow as the host city for this year’s 16th MOBO Awards. I hosted the event last year with Reggie Yates, and back in 2002 with LL Cool J and it was a wonderful experience. The music scene here in Glasgow is very vibrant, no doubt because of the passionate audiences here in Scotland. I adore working with MOBO as they have such a valuable and pioneering ethos which translates into a powerful programme of events.”

Kanya King MBE, CEO and founder of the MOBO Awards, made the announcement with high praise for Scotland and Glasgow as a host for the Awards adding: “We had such a fantastic experience when we hosted the MOBO Awards here in 2009, that it felt very natural for us to want to return and build on our great relationship with the city. We have a wealth of fabulous artists performing and some great surprises up our sleeves, so the run up to October 5th is going to be a very exciting time for MOBO and for Glasgow.”

MOBO Awards tickets will be available as part of a ballot, MOBO fans can register at www.mobo.com from now onwards. Tickets are priced at £29, £49, £59 and £100 (golden circle.) Gold and Platinum tables can also be secured. For more information and to register your interest visit: www.mobo.com.

The MOBO Awards made music history in 2009 by moving out of London for the first time and staging the glamorous show at Glasgow’s Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre (SECC). Their return to the city as part of a three year agreement is testament to the event’s massive success in 2009, which was widely hailed as one of the best MOBO Awards ever. From 2013, the star-studded evening will be held in the new Scottish National Arena adjacent to the SECC.

The 2009 event was a sell-out success with performers entertaining a capacity audience of more than 7,000 and the city welcoming an entourage of A-list celebrities, urban music talent and industry leaders.
The MOBO Awards also delivered an impressive economic impact as well as very significant media exposure for Glasgow. Fiona Hyslop, Scottish Government Minister for Culture and External Affairs, said: “Securing this prestigious awards ceremony as part of a three year deal is testament to Scotland’s vibrant and diverse music scene and our ability to host major events. Attracting talented artists and urban music fans from across the globe is great news for Scotland, which enhances our international reputation and significantly boosts our economy, both locally in Glasgow and across Scotland. I’d like to congratulate all those involved in securing this event for Scotland.”

Councillor Gordon Matheson, Leader of Glasgow City Council and Chair of Glasgow City Marketing Bureau, said: “Glasgow City Marketing Bureau’s role, in partnership with EventScotland, has secured the return of the MOBO Awards in 2011, 2013 and 2015, which is a real coup for Glasgow and Scotland. The 2013 awards will be particularly special as they will be the first major music event to be held in Scotland’s new National Arena at the SECC. Today’s announcement reinforces Glasgow’s cutting edge style credentials and its reputation as Scotland’s leading music city. The audience reach of the MOBO Awards will continue to showcase Glasgow on the global stage through until 2015.”

Launched in 1996, The MOBO Awards have acknowledged and celebrated icons of the global music industry over the years, with past winners including Michael Jackson, Justin Timberlake, Tina Turner, Dizzee Rascal, Jay- Z, LL Cool J, Amy Winehouse, Rihanna and Beyonce to name but a few.

The 2015 edition will mark the 20th anniversary of the MOBO organisation and they have picked up a number of awards for the Glasgow event in the past few months including the Events and Festivals (International) Award at the 2010 Scottish Thistle Awards. This followed on from their double success at the Scottish Event Awards where they were named winner of the Best Medium Event category in addition to taking home the overall Chairman’s Award.

Tourism Evaluation Reports and Measurement

It's sometimes great what you can find when you're not actually looking for it. Like the lost car keys may remain unfound but you discover that long lost Billy Joel CD (in two pieces) underneath the sofa.

Anyway searching for the recently published report on the economic impacts of The Open Championship at St Andrews last year and came across a whole host of tourism related evaluation reports on a Scottish Enterprise site that I wasn't even aware existed.

Evaluations Online features a few years of tourism related reports commissioned by SE over the past five years perhaps. Maybe not all of them but some look as though they deserve another read.

I've now found the 2005 Open Championship Evaluation and when I finally locate a copy of the 2010 one I can start to understand how the economic impacts of the 2010 event grew by so much when the attendance was down more than 10%. There will be a good reason I am sure...

If you are at all interested in the area of tourism statistics you may find the eventImpacts site of some interest as it provides you with the methodology that should be applied to measuring of these events. Quite in depth as well so may take a little time to get your head around. Ideal for all you MBA students out there!

Tuesday 15 March 2011

Scotland Drives Ahead as Impact of Open Championship Announced

The annual release of the "How Good The Open Championship is For Scotland" report has come through and guess what? The Open Championship is good for Scotland!

Okay a little bit of sarcasm on a snowy west of Scotland morning never did any harm and of course it's fantastic for all involved that we host such a major international event every couple of years and the whole press release is published in full without interupted comment below.

However again there's trumpet blowing all over the place and use of some pretty unquantifiable and arguably meaningless statistics saying that the benefit to Scotland is in the region of £100 million of which more than half relates to the cost of "buying" equivalent TV coverage. There are better and more qualified marketing commentators than me out there who argue that the multiplier factors used for this figure is almost without meaning and that it is at best misleading to count it as an economic impact - certainly for anyone to use it as a "direct" economic benefit. TV coverage is of course highly valuable but the impacts are less direct surely?

Anyway, the report probably says pretty much the same as the one that was published this time last year, and the one before that. Perhaps we could save a little money the next time and just say The Open was great for Scottish tourism. (Oh I know we need the statistics and knowledge on which we can move our tourism strategy forward...)

Anyway, the Press Release...

2010 study shows a £100m benefit to Scotland

Open Championship organiser, The R&A and EventScotland today announced that the 150th Anniversary Open Championship staged in St Andrews, last year, delivered a combined £100 million benefit to Scotland.

The figure exceeds an £80 million forecast by researchers from the Sport Industry Research Centre (SIRC) at Sheffield Hallam University revealed by First Minister, Alex Salmond visiting the Championship last July.

The headline number includes a Scotland-wide economic impact of £47.4 million and a destination marketing benefit of £52.6 million calculated from global television coverage presenting Scotland as the ‘The Home of Golf’.

The independent research study, commissioned jointly by The R&A and EventScotland, found that most of the economic impact was focussed on St Andrews and the Fife Council area, with £40.1 million income entering the local economy directly attributable to The Open Championship.

Commenting on the research outcome, The R&A Chief Executive, Peter Dawson said, “The Open Championship averages six appearances in Scotland in a ten year cycle and we are delighted that the only major Championship staged outside the United States delivers such a powerful legacy to the country recognised, the world over, as the Home of Golf”.

Reviewing the findings, Paul Bush OBE, Chief Operating Officer for EventScotland said, “Today’s results are wonderful news for both Fife and Scotland.

“The Open Championship in 2010 was a spectacle for everyone who attended and the figures show the undisputed benefit to Scotland of regularly hosting one of the most prestigious sporting events in the world.”

The 2010 study was based on 3,000 interviews conducted by the SIRC team, including players, spectators, sponsors, event staff, organisers and the media with overseas visitors to The Open from 43 countries identified by the research. Compared with findings from research carried out at the Open Championship at St Andrews in 2005 the overall economic benefit of staging the event has grown by more than 25% in five years.

Following on from this news, it was also announced today that Scotland’s key partners have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in relation to the staging of The Open Championship in Scotland.

The MOU has been formed between R&A Championships Limited, the Local Authorities in Fife, Angus, East Lothian and South Ayrshire, along with EventScotland and VisitScotland. Its purpose is to establish consistent arrangements for joint-working between the partners, towards the preparation and future delivery of The Open Championship in Scotland.

The collective work of all parties involved will ensure that Scotland continues to successfully host The Open Championship on a regular basis moving forward, and that the opportunities and impacts associated with this global event are maximised across Scotland.

Golf is a key economic driver for Scotland so today’s impact figures and MOU signing was well received by First Minister Alex Salmond. He said, “I am delighted that hosting this world-class championship has more than exceeded expectations and brought £100m to our economy. Scotland is the home of golf so it’s no surprise our sporting credentials, stunning scenery, first class tourism credentials and reputation as a world leading event destination have made last year’s Open such a success.

“As we journey towards Homecoming 2014, the year in which Scotland will host the Ryder Cup, the Scottish Government and our partners will continue to work together to produce the next generation of golfers, introduce record numbers of young people to the game and also to promote Scotland as the world’s greatest golfing nation.”

Mike Cantlay, Chairman of EventScotland and VisitScotland said, “The Open Championship is the perfect example of what Scotland does very well - stage world-class events that draw visitors from around the globe. Every golf fan wants to be at St Andrews when The Open is played, and every time it is it delivers impressive economic results for Scotland. Today’s announcement highlights once again why Scotland is the Home of Golf.”

Cllr Peter Grant, Leader of Fife Council said. “As the worldwide home of golf, Fife was proud to host the Open’s 150th anniversary in July 2010. The Open is one of the most prestigious sporting events in the world and we are delighted with the study’s figures which confirm the great economic benefit the tournament brings to Scotland and Fife.

To stage successful events like the Open requires a great deal of hard work, collaboration and partnership working and we welcome the new initiative to improve on these arrangements so that the Open, when held in Scotland, will continue to be an event of the highest quality and help promote Scotland world wide as a must visit destination.”

Councillor Stuart MacKinnon, East Lothian Council’s economic development spokesman, said, “East Lothian Council welcomes this initiative as it will help ensure that future Opens are organised to maximise the economic benefits from this premier sporting event both nationally and locally. Here in East Lothian, we look forward to the welcome return of the Open to Muirfield in 2013 - it was first held at the club in 1892 - and the opportunity it provides not only to showcase the county’s unrivalled golf product but also the many other attractions that visitors can enjoy while they are here.”

David Anderson, Chief Executive of South Ayrshire Council, said: “The MOU is an exciting development that will allow us to continue to deliver successful Open Championships across Scotland, giving local people the chance to see world-class sportsmen and sportswomen in action and, as we see today, bringing very real benefits for local economies. Ayrshire

EventScotland and VisitScotland will continue to be Associate Partners with The Open Championship working with The R&A to ensure that Scotland is promoted as ‘The Home of Golf’ wherever it is played. This reflects Scotland’s historical and cultural relationship with the event, and to raise the profile of Scotland both locally and nationally as a current and future host for the event.

Monday 14 March 2011

Highland Council in Scottish Open Row

The sensitive argument over public sector funding for tourism related events has again surfaced this time in the Highlands with the announcement that Highland Council will apparently be giving Barclay's Bank £33,000 towards the staging of The Barclays Scottish open at Castle Stuart later this year.

The critics are saying that the payment is insenstive at a time when key services are being cut whilst the supporters argue that the money had come from “existing budgets", with council budget leader David Alston saying that “Because we’re in this economic climate, getting this event in the Highlands is a major economic boost and this makes it absolutely right that we offer some level of support.”

Who's right? With cuts everywhere - and not just in the public sector - is there room for payments to be made to Barclays? We don't know the function of the payment nor the direct benefits tied to it but it would seem certain that public funding for the promotion of a European Tour event could be argued as an investment in promoting the golf tourism product of the area.

The flip side however is that both Highland and Islands Enterprise and VisitScotland have already supplied funding support and whether the money actually helped secure the event. If not can it really be a good piece of public sector expenditure if this was used to simply add the Highland Council logo to the event?

And if you wished to argue the case even more deeply, the direct benefits of the evant are likely to be with the filled rooms across the strip from Inverness to nairn, not only during the event but beyond. Is there not some onus on the private sector to look at how event development can be built into their own marketing expenditures in the years to come.

The politics of handing £33,000 over to Barclays from a council will certainly stick in the throats of many but in the bigger picture that's not what the argument should be about. The strategic question to be asked for the future must be structured around what role the public sector, at national and local level, has and should have in attracting events to and then funding for these events in Scotland and the regions and areas within the country.

There are many exampales of ill thought out council supported competitive bidding processes and the subsidy and creation and support of contrived events (sporting and cultural) which only displace visitors from one area to another within Scotland. There is not enough questioning of the effects of public money and there benefits to the local communities that they are meant to be servicing and whether in fact the public funding actually discourages in the longer term investment by the travel industry in developing their won projects and programmes.

The word displace has been used a couple of times in the above paragraphs. "Displacement effects" were always one of the first issues to be addressed when Scottish Enterprise funding was being sought. It's a concept that seems to have vanished but maybe should be looked at again with a large number of tourism related projects.

Anyway the question that the Barclays funding support raises is what role public sector funds should have in supporting events such as this. Council leader and self confessed golf enthusiast Sandy Park puts it better than we could:
“We, through the same budget, supported the downhill cycling championship at Fort William, which makes a massive amount of money, and the marathon.
Are you saying we should stop sponsoring those events?"
We're not sure of the answer Councillor but in the current financial climate it should no longer be seen as a rhetorical question

Read more: Press and Journal Article

Friday 11 March 2011

Ayrshire Tourism Workshop

Ayrshire based tourism marketing company Plan B were delighted to be able to present for twenty minutes last week at an Ayrshire Tourism event at Ayr Racecourse as part of Scottish Tourism Week.

The morning was themed on tourism collaboration and featured speakers on activities, developing the food product and then Plan B on how businesses can make better use of online marketing to distribute the collaborative product.

Plan B promised that they'd upload some thoughts and a copy of the presentation for those attending and true to their word (albeit a little later than planned!) here it is.

Ian McCaig's presentation style is under normal conditions a little manic but when he's told that he's only got twenty minutes rather than the original thirty it becomes even more so...

The aim however was to make the audience think and reflect on the bigger picture not the detail. It was to motivate and inpsire action rather than give a comprehensive understanding of every nuance of online marketing and distribution. In that sense if any member of the audience left thinking that they now know that they CAN do more then it was a success.

So what you can download below is a copy of the presentation, a client guide for Google Accounts and Blogger, an introduction to Bookassist online booking engine and some links at the foot to get some idea of what other businesses in Ayrshire are doing.

Download Documents:

Plan B Ayrshire Tourism Presenation
A Guide To... Google Blogs
A Guide to... Google Account
Introduction to Bookassist Booking Engine

Ayrshire Tourism - Content Managed Websites:

Blogging Examples:
If you need any further information on your online marketing strategy give Plan B a call on 02192 521404 or send an email

General Manager Stuart McEwen to leave Scotland's Kingsbarns Golf Links

Kingsbarns Golf Links has announced that Stuart McEwen, General Manager since early 2000, has informed the Company of his decision to leave Kingsbarns.

Stuart is proud of the international acclaim Kingsbarns has achieved under his leadership. From its opening in July 2000 it has consistently been ranked among the Top 100 Golf Courses in the World and has hosted ten Alfred Dunhill Links Championships.

“The past decade has gone by very quickly. We have a first class management team here and I’m grateful to have been part of everything they have achieved. However, from a personal standpoint, I have accomplished what I set out to do. With the tenth anniversary celebration last year and our strong involvement with the Open Championship, I feel that I have reached a professional crossroad. While Kingsbarns is a very special place to which I shall often return, I’m looking forward to the challenge of developing the next stage of my career.”

Art Dunkley, Kingsbarns co-founder and owner, accepted Stuart’s decision with reluctance. “Stuart’s careful leadership and congenial style made Kingsbarns everything it has come to be. I know I speak for everyone who has had the pleasure of working for and with Stuart when I say he will be profoundly missed. I personally thank Stuart for his absolute dedication to Kingsbarns and for the pleasure of working with him”.

Stuart will be continuing in his current role for three months while the Company arranges a successor to lead Kingsbarns into the future.

Monday 7 March 2011

Has Anyone Seen Our Flags...

Haud me back time again with our public tourism expenditure.

Last month it was free measuring glasses being given out in our Spars so we could tell how much drink was in a bottle of Budweiser and a bottle of Bordeaux.

This month it's giveway Saltires! The Daily Record reported that the government has spent £300K on giving away Scottish flags at tourism events since coming into power.

Culture minister Fiona Hyslop said: "The Scottish government use the Saltire to promote Scotland at large scale national and international events, such as St Andrew's Day, Scotland Week and Burns Night. It is of real benefit to Scotland in terms of tourism and the promotion of our nation abroad."

And then the punchline was the brazen breakdown of cost, "The average annual expenditure on promotional flags over the four years from 2007 to 2011 is £78,888."

That's okay then it was only £315,552 spent on giving away promo gifts. Yup I'm convinced that the return on investment on that one is pretty high too. Surprisingly though the statment was not accompanied by the (usual) economic impact figures. It did not therefore claim to have a return on investment of 30:1, it didn't say the flag waving exercise was worth £1.2 billion to the Scottish Tourism economy nor did it claim to have created a full time equivalent of 123 jobs across Scotland. It didn't even claim to have helped improve the health of the nation by encouraging lifting and repeated movement of the lower (flag holding) arm. We can be thankful for that then!

Solution? Yeah easy to criticise and be cynical I know. The argument is not whether flag waving may be good at media covered events but could they not just have found a sponsor and avoided any public money being involved? The Daily Record for instance? (or The Sun for balance!) Didn't Morrison's give away tens of thousands of Scotland flags ahead of every Scotland international as team sponsor. The idea that there is noone creative enough to have identified ways that expenditure on a commerically viable promo campaign could have been avoided is the key worry.

Aaaargh.... simple solutions eh. Who needs them!

Friday 4 March 2011

Councillor Shows Commitment to One Ayrshire...

What's the old saying about the proof of the pudding...

Well, little more than a fortnight after the three separate Ayrshire councils signed a declaration to work together in promoting a single destination Ayrshire message, what happens but one council already breaks ranks at the first big press and PR opportunity that comes around.

The cynics have argued that they heard this "joint working exercise" business spouted before and doubted the likelihood of seeing anything more than words. Do they have grounds for this scepticism? Make your own minds up...

This paragraph is lifted from the R & A press release announcing Turnberry as venue for the 2012 Seniors Open. (Which in itself is great news for Ayrshire and the rest of Scottish tourism.
"Councillor Bill McIntosh, Leader of South Ayrshire Council, said: "Turnberry is an iconic golf location and I am thrilled The Senior Open Championship is returning to South Ayrshire next year. We are, of course, the birthplace and home of Open Golf and we are also well-known for hosting major international events, so it’s going to be a fabulous sporting occasion.
“I look forward to welcoming players, staff, fans, family and friends to South Ayrshire for this wonderful event and will ensure a great time is had by all here on Scotland’s very own golf coast.”
So much for the value of that commitment and pledge then. They really just can't help themselves can they?

Martin Cheyne, Councillor David O'Neill, Councillor Bill McIntosh, Councillor Douglas Reid, and Jill Farrell sign the new Ayrshire Tourism Charter
Councillor McIntosh, just in case you forgot what you signed up for - there is only one Ayrshire.

Senior Open Championship to return to Turnberry in 2012

The Senior Open Championship will return to the spectacular setting of Turnberry on the Ayrshire coastline from July 26-29, 2012, continuing the Scottish resort’s rich history with the prestigious Championship which began with the inaugural staging in 1987.

It will be the seventh occasion that Turnberry’s Ailsa Course has hosted The Senior Open Championship, the most of any venue on the roster, surpassing the six editions played at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland.

The classic links hosted the first four Senior Open Championships, with Neil Coles wining the inaugural Championship in 1987, Gary Player capturing the title in 1988 and 1990 and Bob Charles lifting the trophy in 1989.

Tom Watson, whose own career is so closely aligned with Turnberry’s proud heritage, then held off the European Senior Tour’s leading career money winner Carl Mason in a play-off when the Championship returned to the Ayrshire Coast in 2003, before fellow American Loren Roberts captured his first Senior Open title in 2006.

Turnberry has also hosted The Open Championship on four occasions with Watson featuring prominently in 1977, when he memorably defeated Jack Nicklaus in what became known as ‘The Duel in the Sun’, and in 2009 when he lost in a play-off to Stewart Cink at the age of 59.

David Hill, Director of Championships for The R&A, said on behalf of the Championship: “We are delighted to announce the return of The Senior Open Championship to Turnberry in 2012, a venue that is steeped in the history of both The Senior Open and The Open.

“The Ailsa Course has provided some of golf’s most memorable moments over the years and hopefully we will once again experience the magnificent support of the Scottish golf fans, just as we did the last time The Senior Open Championship visited the Ayrshire coast in 2008 when we had record crowds at Royal Troon.”

Stewart Selbie, General Manager of Turnberry, said: “Turnberry is delighted to welcome The Senior Open Championship back to the Ailsa course in 2012. Following the success of The 2009 Open, it is entirely fitting that our next Major should be the Senior Open, a tournament which has such a strong connection with the Ailsa course over the years. This announcement confirms Turnberry’s position as a great venue for major Open Championships”

Councillor Bill McIntosh, Leader of South Ayrshire Council, said: "Turnberry is an iconic golf location and I am thrilled The Senior Open Championship is returning to South Ayrshire next year. We are, of course, the birthplace and home of Open Golf and we are also well-known for hosting major international events, so it’s going to be a fabulous sporting occasion.

“I look forward to welcoming players, staff, fans, family and friends to South Ayrshire for this wonderful event and will ensure a great time is had by all here on Scotland’s very own golf coast.”

EventScotland, the national events agency, has supported the staging of The Senior Open Championship since 2005 and the 2012 event will be the marquee event on Scotland’s golfing calendar that year.

Paul Bush OBE, Chief Operating Officer for EventScotland said: “The Senior Open Championship is one of Scotland’s most prestigious regular golf tournaments. We are delighted to see it return next year with significant benefits for Turnberry, South Ayrshire and the wider ‘Home of Golf’ expected. It is important for Scotland to maintain its support of these major events as we prepare to host The Ryder Cup in 2014 and to ensure the ongoing development of the sport on our shores.”

The Senior Open last visited Scotland in 2010 when Carnoustie hosted the Championship for the first time. Germany’s Bernhard Langer claimed his first Senior Major Championship and will defend the title from July 21-24 when Walton Heath Golf Club, in Surrey, England, is the host venue for the Championship’s 25th edition.

Discounted advance tickets can be purchased online, with season tickets now available at £60 for a season pass and any one day passes at £16.50. They can be booked online at www.europeantourtickets.com, where other discounts and offers can also be found.

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