Scotland is taking centre-stage with a programme of global events that represent an unprecedented opportunity for Scottish tourism. Is your business ready to answer the call in 2014?
“As we host two of the world’s biggest showcase events – The Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and The Ryder Cup at Gleneagles – as well as our second Year of Homecoming, 2014 represents a massive opportunity, the likes of which we’ve never had before in such a concentrated period of time.” says Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive of VisitScotland.
“We don’t want businesses reaching the end of 2014 and thinking ‘if only’. If you have an idea for the coming year, ‘go for it’. We have the tools to help you succeed.” Malcolm adds. The Year of Homecoming Scotland started on 31 December 2013 and runs to 31 December 2014 throughout Scotland. More than 430 events are confirmed thus far.
See what’s planned in your area at www.homecomingscotland.com and talk to local event organisers or businesses about working in partnership to add value for your customers.
Malcolm continues “Homecoming 2009 saw 71% of Scottish tourism businesses report a benefit. It’s not just an opportunity for the big attractions, or city-based businesses. Just because you’re remote from a key event, doesn’t mean you can’t benefit by making the most of the theme.”
A unique opportunity
“No matter where you operate, whether it’s Homecoming, the Commonwealth Games or The Ryder Cup, it’s important to view these events as an extension of your existing offering.
“Every month is going to feature a fantastic business opportunity. Focus on getting the best value from your VisitScotland website listing. If you’re offering discounts or special deals, make sure those details are included.” suggests Malcolm.
“This is our chance to showcase everything great about Scotland. It’s important that businesses locally get together and make use of the various funding mechanisms available to help their community benefit.
“As an accommodation provider you could use our Homecoming toolkit to brand your website or when people call to enquire, ask them what their ideal Homecoming breakfast would be. Then add it to the menu especially for them.”
The year is supported by a £5.5 million major event and marketing and PR programme, showcasing Scotland around the world. Already, Lonely Planet has named Scotland its third best country to visit in 2014.
VisitScotland’s ‘brilliant moments’ TV advert and multimedia campaign focuses on the thrill of being here in 2014. There are four versions of the advert being screened throughout the UK – covering the Commonwealth Games, Ryder Cup and Homecoming slant.
Malcolm adds: “As an industry we are better aligned than ever before. When you consider Year of Natural Scotland, it’s been a phenomenal success story. 2014 isn’t just a 12-month opportunity. It’s a chance to create a lasting legacy. We’ve secured a number of major golf events all the way through to 2020 – it doesn’t start and stop with The Ryder Cup.”
“A number of initiatives established in support of 2014 have the potential to deliver long lasting benefits for Scottish tourism. There’s Glasgow’s Service with Style initiative, which we’ll be looking to roll that out nationally.
“An online accessibility training programme, currently being developed, will go a long way to ensuring visitors with access requirements can fully enjoy the events. You’re encouraged to create an ‘access statement’ – a clear description what visitors with access requirements can expect.”
“There’s also the Greener Glasgow Initiative, all about sustainability. It has enjoyed huge take up with 85% of businesses targeted adopting the scheme to date. If we can use this as the basis for a national roll out as well, then straight away there are three powerful development mechanisms capable of supporting Scottish tourism for the future.” adds Malcolm.
“It’s this momentum that will secure the legacy of 2014 and beyond. It fosters a confidence that permeates throughout the industry.
“Let’s work in partnership to add value and scale to our offering,” comments Malcolm. “If we can deliver on our ambition, the likelihood is we will have cemented Scotland’s reputation as a must see, must return destination.”
Help is at hand
VisitScotland and partners have developed a series of toolkits and advice guides designed to support tourism businesses to make the most of the opportunities in 2014. For further information go to http://www.visitscotland.org