Outer Hebrides Tourism (OHT) is the official DMO (Destination Management Organisation) for the islands from Barra & Vatersay up to the northern tip of Lewis. The islands have seen a growth in the number of food trucks over recent years. Seafood shacks and other more traditional fast-food outlets have always been popular due to the nature of their market and the small local population which makes it hard to start a formal restaurant. Many trucks are in stunning locations, getting a good following from extending their menus and focusing more on local sourcing. Due to COVID, outdoor eating became an even more important component of the islands’ food offering.
OHT was looking to develop a strategy for the food trucks that could help these businesses take advantage of this opportunity and turn this into a type of island “street food” to include:
• Menu/offering to reflect visitor needs and the limited facilities
• Operations to comply with COVID restrictions
• Promotional campaign strategy to help the food sector contribute to the islands’ reputation as a tourism destination
In May of 2020, Interface joined forces with VisitScotland and the Scottish Tourism Alliance to launch the Adopt a Business scheme; a new initiative aimed at boosting the sector’s recovery from COVID by connecting tourism businesses to university academics and students for research and development projects; helping businesses to diversify and adapt to the new environment.
Dr Jaylan Azer, Adam Smith Business School at Glasgow, kindly agreed to help support Rob McKinnon Street Food - Outer Hebrides Tourism through the Adopt a Business initiative. She successfully applied for funding from the University of Glasgow and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) to fund the project; employing professional graphic artists to create images for new branding.
After a site visit, Dr Azer recommended an overarching branding for the 19 independent food trucks located in Stornoway, Isle of Harris and Barra. The branding was called ‘Food with a view’. The rationale behind the name related to the main common factor of the trucks’ locations, overlooking stunning views of the isles. The brand was also used to market the variety of food provided by the trucks.
To counter the distance between the trucks and the limited awareness of the variety of food, Dr Azer suggested a collaborative menu with the brand name and logo of ‘Food with a view’ and showcase the type of food each truck provided, facilities they have (e.g. payment method, seating, dietary offerings, etc.) and a graphical map, showing the route between trucks and location.
Dr Azer also made recommendations as to their social media presence and the incorporation of the overarching brand in both their social media platforms and their signposts.
The Food with a View social media campaign was the first stage of this project and fully embraced by both consumers and businesses.
The project has supported businesses by raising the awareness of local produce through a social media campaign and collateral, enabling excellent visitor engagement.
There are many opportunities that will support businesses going forward in further phases of this project; developing the food and drink offer in the islands and achieving economic growth.