Friday, 29 July 2011

VAT Increases Won't Impact on Scottish Tourism...

Says who?

The recent VAT increases are widely accepted as making Scotland's tourism product less competitive with many of its European Counterparts. This is not an economic lesson here jsut a fact that the cost of eating, drinking and most of all staying in Scotland will be hit as the taxation differntial increases between here and for example Ireland. No, you don't think so?

Well here's an extract from a Dublin five star hotel's email last week with their net rates encouraging business back.
For your information also, The Westin Dublin is pleased to announce that, from July 1 this year, we will be passing on the VAT reduction savings applicable in our sector to our guests and customers. This new and welcome government initiative designed to stimulate growth in the tourism business in Ireland will reduce the former 13.5% VAT element to 9%. The reduction will impact on our room rates and food items, and at The Westin Dublin we are happy to continue to deliver excellent value to our guests and customers by passing this reduction on directly to them.

“Here at The Westin Dublin we are glad to pass on the upcoming VAT reduction to our customers, continuing our philosophy of providing excellent value for money,” says Andrew Henning, General Manager of the Westin Dublin. “We also welcome this general initiative as a boost for our sector at this time, and we look forward to a positive impact from this and other new actions currently being implemented.”
A VAT differential (a direct cost differential) of 11% on all sales. How the hell could that ever have an impact on sales and profitability on Scotland?

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Crianlarich Hotel Adds Facebook Sidebar

Following a wee three or four day trip around Inverness, Moray, Speyside, west Highlands and Argyll (and I can sympathise with the cost of visitor fuel!) I ended up at the wonderfully well located Crianlarich Hotel.

Sitting on the corner of the A85 from The Trossachs and Stirling and the A82 from Loch Lomondside and Glasgow the hotel was simply noticed in passing for too many years due to it being a coach hotel only. It's been in new hands for sometime now and the new GM Andrea provided me with patience and coffee as my last stop on the way back to the office last week.

Andrea is not one of those to whom you have to point out the opportunities of online business to; the recently added Facebook pages has already accrued more than a thousand followers and the websites recent conversion to the Bookassist Booking Engine is already reaping rewards with increased direct sales traffic.

The plans are also underway for the winter season with the printed materials already in place for January offers for locals and visitors alike. The promotion ties in a business card style log in with the booking engine to provide for the "exclusivity" required. By using a Bookassist Promo Code (available to all users of the booking engine) the hotel can promote a very attractive promotional rate without opening it up to the whole world. Took ten minutes to set up and now the hotel's January promotion is a fully integrated on and off line tool which can be used with email marketing and social media.

Great what you can achieve in ten minutes!

Andrea also liked the Facebook side bars we've been creating for our clients so we rattled one of them up for her which will no doubt be on the hotel's Facebook page by the time we publish this article. So next time you're heading up through Crianlarich stop off for a coffee or a bite to eat or book your January Crianlarich offer online!

Click through for further information on adding a Facebook banner to your page. You can also find out more about how your accommodation can benefit from increased direct sales with the award winning Bookassist Booking engine.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Machrie Hotel in New Hands

We missed this announcement while on holidays but welcome news for a great hotel and golf destination all the same.

Blair Nimmo and Tony Friar of KPMG LLP, as Joint Administrators of The Machrie Hotel and Golf Links Ltd and its associated property company Mendougal 21 Ltd, have sold the Machrie Hotel and the Machrie Golf Links (Islay) for an undisclosed sum on Thursday 30 June 2011 to Machrie Golf LLP.

Machrie Golf LLP is a partnership established by Baroness Sue Nye (former Director of Government Relations at 10 Downing Street) and her husband Gavyn Davies (Chairman of Fulcrum Asset Management) for the purpose of acquiring the Machrie Hotel and Golf Links.

The future development of the facility will be managed by G3k, whose CEO is Stewart Smith , a Scottish golf professional for 28 years.

The Machrie estate is located on the Isle of Islay off the West coast of Scotland and comprises a 16 bedroom hotel, 15 separate lodges, on-site bar and restaurant facilities, golf shop and the 71-par championship golf course, designed by Willie Campbell in 1891. The golf course is considered one of the world’s top links courses and is rated within the UK’s 100 top golf courses.

Blair Nimmo, Joint Administrator and head of Restructuring for KPMG in Scotland, said: “Following a seven month search for a buyer it is extremely satisfying to have concluded the sale of the Machrie Hotel and the Machrie Golf Links.

“The Machrie is an internationally recognized golfing venue, and both the hotel and golf course are of significant importance to the local economy on Islay and as such it is particularly pleasing to have achieved this sale which will hopefully ensure the future of this historic course. We wish the new owners of the Machrie, Sue Nye and Gavyn Davies, every success with the business for the future.”

Stewart Smith, the CEO of G3k said: “It is a privilege to be charged with the development of the Machrie. The new owners recognize that The Machrie is an important part of Scotland’s golfing heritage, and is crucial to Islay’s economy. They intend to preserve the historic appeal of this great links course, while renovating the hotel and clubhouse buildings. It will become one of Scotland’s prime golfing destinations. I would like to thank the staff Ian, Simon, Ewan and Kate for taking such good care of the business during its period in administration, and look forward to working with them.”

Norman MacDonald, The Captain of Islay Golf Club said: “As Captain of Islay Golf Club, I am delighted that the Machrie Hotel and Golf Links have been bought and after initial talks with the new owners, I am confident that the future of Islay Golf Club is in safe hands. We look forward to working together with the new owners”.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Diary Date for Golf Tourism Awards

Golf Tourism Scotland have announced date for this year's 2011 Gold Standard Awards - the golf industry's red-carpet event where the best of Scotland's travel, hospitality and golf service providers are celebrated.

The 2011 Awards will take place at the award-winning Fairmont St Andrews on Thursday 3rd November.

Notably, the venue was awarded Resort Hotel of the Year 2010 by GTS and hosted the awards in 2007.

Lee Derrick, chairman of GTS noted: "We are really looking forward to working alongside Fairmont St Andrews in the run-up to the awards. The Fairmont has a reputation for putting on a fantastic show and will no doubt do a great job. There's a lot to celebrate this year with the Scottish golf industry continuing to make its mark internationally. I am sure that the Gold Standard Awards will be a night to remember."

For those of you who were their in 2007, you may recall that the Red Hot Chilli Pipers blew the audience away as post dinner entertainment and more than £2500 was raised for Children in Need with the Tartan Army and Runrig version of Loch Lomond. You have to watch the video below just for the Perry Golf Dance Version...

Ticket prices fro the event until 30th Sept are:
Table of 10: GTS members & guests - £800; non-members - £999
Individuals: members - £85; non-members - £105

From October 1st they go up to:
Table of 10: GTS members & guests - £900; non-members - £1,100
Individuals: members - £95; non-members - £115

Places can be reserved by emailing

Ayrshire Bed and Breakfasts Come Together

A new collaboration has been set up in Ayrshire to help promote and develop the bed and breakfast marketplace to Ayrshire. The group calling themselves ABBA is being promoted via their new website with information on more than three dozen B & B's across Ayrshire.

Last year B & B owners were invited to a meeting hosted by Ayrshire Business Gateway where more than 30 owners met and voted in favour of forming such an association. A working committee was formed to devise ways forward such as sourcing funding, web design and promotion of local attractions. They have since had discussions with Business Gateway, South Ayrshire Council, VisitScotland, Ayrshire’s Tourism Forum, the Ayrshire and Arran Hoteliers Association and also the Ayrshire Food Network who have all been very supportive of the venture.

Essentially the aim is to publicise what Ayrshire has to offer in order to encourage people to come and enjoy their stay so that they want to come back again.

If you are interested in joining ABBA or for more information please contact any of the following Ayrshire B & B Association Committee Members through the ABBA website

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Belleisle Park in Ayrshire Secures Heritage Funding

South Ayrshire Council's Belleisle Park has received initial support for a £1.5m funding bid from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). The figure includes £56,000 development funding which will be used to plan the details of the complete project.

Belleisle Park was originally designed by Dr John Campbell of Wellwood, a local businessman who made his fortune in the coalmining and tobacco trade, and bought the estate in 1775. In later years it came into Council ownership.

Colin McLean, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Scotland, said: "Belleisle Park is a valuable pocket of green space in South Ayrshire and is much-loved by the local community. We are pleased to be giving our initial support for this worth-while redevelopment project and are looking forward to working with the Council on these exciting plans over the coming months."

Councillor Margaret Toner, Portfolio Holder for Economic Development, Tourism and Leisure said: "This is terrific news and I know that people across South Ayrshire and beyond will be celebrating the news that we have initial support from a Heritage Lottery Fund grant.

"We have worked closely with the Friends of Belleisle and other interested parties to create a vision that we know we can make a reality, which will see Belleisle Park prosper again.

"The plan is to conserve the park's remaining historic features such as the stable block, walled garden, lodge house and rockeries. The Friends of Belleisle group will also support various volunteer training activities and public events.

"Many people have happy memories of childhood days spent at Belleisle and in turn have taken their children and grandchildren there to enjoy the magnificent outdoor space. Belleisle is a popular tourist destination and this is something that we want to capitalise on, when people play golf we want to encourage them to then enjoy the rest of Belleisle."

Norman McLean, Chair of The Friends of Belleisle said: "We are all celebrating this fantastic news. I am grateful to South Ayrshire Council, the Heritage Lottery Fund and everyone else who is working in partnership to breath new life into Belleisle Park. This is the start of a new and exciting journey."