Case Study

Tomintoul & Glenlivet Development Trust


Abertay University
Edinburgh Napier University


Social Enterprise and Third Sector
Tourism and Leisure


Highlands & Islands

Established in 2012, Tomintoul & Glenlivet Development Trust is a community led regeneration project based in the North East of Scotland. The Trust was created to drive economic regeneration in the area and has a wide remit covering maintenance, regeneration and improvement of the community’s physical, economic, social and cultural infrastructure.

The Trust is focussed on developing the area to enrich the visitor experience, and extending their current season to include sports activities aimed at a younger demographic. Their long term plan being to market the area as the outdoor hub of Moray, these activities include a cycling festival, a motorcycle gathering and further development of the existing walking and whisky festivals.

The Business Challenge

Keen to use digital media to enhance the current visitor experience, the Trust’s aim is to develop the area’s technological infrastructure enabling it to support digital tourism. Conducting a trial marketing project in their already successful whisky sector, aiming to integrate the area’s oral tradition with local history in a site specific tour, would be the ideal first step in the process.

Based on the famous Glenlivet whisky, The Smuggler’s Trail would give them the chance to understand how technology would be used and at what cost; the practicalities of using it in rural areas- would GPS be an option or were localised servers more feasible; and how would they deliver the idea, would the data be held in the area or would visitors need to download it first?

The overall challenge of drawing in a younger audience required them firstly to ascertain market demand for their ‘outdoor adventure’ activities, carrying out local research but also seeking internationally successful examples offering key points to follow. They therefore needed marketing expertise.

If the Smuggler’s Trail tours are successful, the Trust’s aim is to take this new expertise and, combining this with the new market research, integrate digital technologies more fully into their overall future marketing plan.

The Solution

The Trust’s Local Development Officer, Lindsay Robertson, met Interface’s Kathryn Fraser at the Interface Digital Tourist event and Lindsay soon realised that Interface, with direct access to world class research expertise, would be able to help with both challenges.

Kathryn worked with Lindsay to create a working brief which would be sent to academics across Scotland inviting them to pitch for the project.

Having selected a number of interested parties from a range of universities and research institutions across Scotland, Kathryn put Lindsay in touch with Edinburgh Napier University, whose Centre for Interaction Design would be ideal. Having carried out research in digital applications they provided the perfect environment to test out the pilot project.

With this pilot now in development, Lindsay was keen to follow up by starting on market research for their overall rebrand. Knowing that Abertay University have an excellent Retail Marketing Programme, Kathryn put Lyndsay in touch with them.


The Trust is currently considering findings delivered by both Edinburgh Napier and Abertay University. With access to leading digital technologies and space to trial the practical implications of their rurally based concept, Edinburgh Napier University has identified the most suitable platform and will be working with the Trust on its’ implementation. Crucially this research and development stage only required the Trust to match the academic time spent with their own. This will ultimately ensure the success of their ‘Smuggler’s Trail’ enabling this format to then be rolled out to other local heritage sites in their area.

As well as access to leading international interactive research, the Trust had access to top ranking university students who undertook their market research as part of their degree programme. This meant fully developed market analysis at no cost incurred to the Trust and hugely beneficial exposure to the commercial tourism industry for the students.

According to Lindsay,

“We are delighted to be working with Edinburgh Napier and Abertay Universities through Interface. The process so far has been extremely quick and easy and we hope that the key insights delivered from both institutions will have a huge impact on where we see ourselves in the future – we will certainly be incorporating the finds in our future marketing activity.”

August 2018

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon visited the recently opened Tomintoul and Glenlivet Discovery Centre, which received funding from Highlands and Islands Enterprise to develop a fully immersive visual experience focusing on the past local illicit whisky industry.

Through Interface, the Tomintoul and Glenlivet Development Trust, which owns and manages the centre, accessed expert academic support from The University of St Andrews. Virtual reality technology is being developed as well as a 360 degree experience of an illicit still.