Thursday, March 22, 2012

New Tourism Manager's Position for Ayrshire and Arran

Ayrshire's councils recently committed themselves to the creation of a new tourism strategy across the three administrations. The following job description was published this week - there's some nice salaries kicking about Scottish tourism just now for sure... up to £53,000 for this one and slightly more for Scottish Tourism Alliance Chief Executive.

Job Description - Ayrshire & Arran Tourism Manager

Ayrshire & Arran Tourism Manager – 3 year temporary contract.

Situated on the beautiful Clyde Coast, Ayrshire & Arran is home to Scotland’s national Bard, three Open Golf Championship courses and world class sailing. It is also home to some of the most prestigious heritage and visitor attractions that Scotland has to offer including Dumfries House, Brodick Castle and Culzean Castle. Around 3.50 million tourists visit the area and the new Ayrshire & Arran Tourism Team will deliver, on behalf of the three Ayrshire Councils and the industry-led Tourism Leadership group, a step change in growth in Tourism within Ayrshire & Arran.

We’ve taken a long hard look at our work in tourism and come up with a strategy to attract more visitors who stay longer, spend more and support more jobs. We need you to help us deliver it. This is a new post, on an initial three year contract, and it is a superb opportunity to make your mark in tourism.

It’s your positive attitude and approach that will set you apart. You’ll have a proven track record of high achievement. Just as important are your drive, passion, enthusiasm and determination to deliver for the tourism industry and the wider community of Ayrshire and Arran. 

Job Purpose

To achieve the targets set within the Ayrshire and Arran Tourism Strategy 2012-2017 by:
  • providing energetic, enthusiastic, can-do leadership at an operational level to the tourism sector in Ayrshire & Arran in order to encourage development work that will bring more visitors and spend to the region
  • working with the three Ayrshire Councils to ensure their support for Tourism is aligned to the strategy.
Closing date is Monday 2 April 2012

Additional Information:

Assessment Centre and Interviews will be held on Thursday 19 April 2012.

For an informal discussion please contact Lesley Bloomer, Executive Director, Development and Environment at South Ayrshire Council on 01292 612182

To view a copy of the Tourism Strategy please click on the following link:

Please click on the option to download additional information on this vacancy to access the Job Description. Extra information: The Grade of this post is Grade 5 / Level 16, the hourly rate is from £28.19 to £29.05 and the annual salary is from £51,447 to £53,016.

Job Reference: SOA001837

Closing Date: 02-Apr-2012

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Scottish Tourism Forum or Alliance? Anyone Know?

Ok, so I have to start this email with the statement that I was on holiday for the first part of Scottish Tourism Week and Man Flu prevented me taking my place at yesterday's Winning Year's conference in Perth so I may have missed some major announcements along the way.

But on the other hand I have just done a Google search for Scottish Tourism Week news and Winning Year's Conference and a similar search through the sites of Scottish Tourism Forum and (oh by the way did you notice they've started blogging? March 13th 2012 - cutting edge as ever!) to no avail.

Apparently, according the job specification, the Scottish Tourism Forum is now The Scottish Tourism Alliance and is searching for a Chief Executive at a salary of £60,000 per annum. Was this announced at last week's events? Or am I well out of date on this position?

But wait a minute in my mail received last week there's a message from Chair Stephen Leckie urging me to part with my subscription fees for membership renewal of The Scottish Tourism Forum for 2012/13. Not a great deal of money it has to be stated but it is a bit like buying a season ticket for Rangers. You really want to know who's ground your going to be sitting in before parting with the cash!

There is no mention of the "The Scottish Tourism Alliance formerly known as STForum" in asking me for my membership subscriptions. Surely a wee indication along the way may have been appropriate.

In all seriousness though, why are membership subs being asked for an organisation that on it's own website is already being referred to in the past tense. The public side of the sector are continuously criticised for their ineffective communications, it does not reflect well on the private sector representative body

The job description mentions the successful candidate "Reporting to a private sector board and council". Is this going to be the same board as is currently in place or is it going to be a new board for a new organisation? I genuinely have no idea. So how can I possibly be in a position to pay subs for something that is not yet fully formed.

I have previously raised the point directly with the organisation that there is a strange essence of the "same-old, same-old" about the strategic approach and even of some of those around the table. The new "alliance" may be about to tap into the diversity and dynamism of the many small businesses surviving even prospering during these times; they sure as hell need to.

But I can't find out how they're planning to do it anywhere. The Scottish Tourism Manifesto 2011 published before last year's elections outlined the strategic areas that the board of the Scottish Tourism Forum had in focus and I understand that presentations made at the AGM outlined the potential mechanisms for change. Communicating changes to a quorate AGM does not equate to communicating with the membership.

I'm afraid my membership fees will remain in abeyance until more clarity is delivered.

Chief Executive Position for new Tourism Alliance

The following is the job description found on the Scottish Tourism Forum website for the post of Chief Executive of the new Scottish Tourism Alliance (sic).

(See other brief article on letter on STF membership subscriptions renewal.)

Shame I've annoyed equal amounts of both the public and private sector over the past fifteen years - sounds quite nice little number and I'm sure includes a ticket to the premiere of Brave too!

The Place:
The Scottish Tourism Alliance formerly known as STForum ( is an umbrella organisation which provides a strong and cohesive voice representing the private tourism sector, as a single parliamentary body on the direction, growth and economic importance to a £4.2billion tourism industry which employs over 200,000 in 20,000 businesses throughout Scotland.

The Job:
Reporting to a private sector board and council, the Chief Executive will be fully responsible for the commercial growth and development of the Alliance’s revenue streams which currently comprise of private industry membership, industry patrons and suppliers as well as the highly acclaimed “Scottish Tourism Week.” As Chief Executive you will be supported by a small full time team, with the back up and support of both the board and the council, comprising numerous high profile industry players. As Chief Executive you will be expected to attend and represent the “Alliance’s” interests in all tourism events which are deemed to be influential to the commercial development of the “Alliance” throughout 2012.

The Person:
Applying candidates are thought to come from a Hospitality, Travel or Tourism background, however, at this initial stage the board and council will not rule out individuals who can clearly demonstrate relevant knowledge and skills as to why their applications should be considered for this high profile post. Applying candidates must be able to demonstrate; that they are highly capable operators who can politically influence and negotiate their way around senior decision makers, be able to understand the commercial and financial requirements required within this appointment and be able to implement processes and procedures through action and results which will immediately have a financial impact and return into the business. As Chief Executive you will be a confident and capable networker, someone who can be accepted as a knowledgeable and creditable ambassador who can be accepted at all influencing levels both within the private and public sectors. As Chief Executive you will be expected to have a highly visible profile throughout 2012 which will raise your standing in the “Alliance”, as well as overall raising the Scottish Tourism Alliance’s mission, vision and values within the Scottish Tourism sector.

The Rewards:
Our client is looking at a starting salary circa £60,000, dependant on experience. Other benefits include mobile phone and laptop.
Xpress Recruitment has been appointed the ‘Retained Search and Selection’ partner to manage the process in sourcing and appointing a new Chief Executive Officer to head up the newly created Scottish Tourism Alliance, formerly known as the Scottish Tourism Forum (STF). Any direct or 3rd party approaches regarding this publicly advertised position, will be passed directly to our retained consultant Paul J Wilson – or to call Xpress Recruitment on 0131 440 1960.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Where Does Your Website Sit?

We were doing a presentation to some tourism students earlier today and one of them asked me if I could publish a graphic I'd used highlighting what impacts on a hotel's website.

It was part of a discussion aimed at quashing the idea that once you had published a website that you had an online marketing strategy. The argument being made is that a website is an asset that depreciates considerably from the moment it is published unless you continue to build on it, make improvements and develop relationships. Only then will the balance sheet be able to show appreciation.

It also ties in with a question from a booking engine client of ours in the Highlands who is asking whether they should blog. The straight answer is for sure and we've explained our view on another To Blog or Not to Blog post

Blogging is simply about developing content for subjects and products and services you're not being found for currently and supports the content managed pages on your site but offering a different style of communication. If you're doing Highland Buffet Nights on a Thursday why would you not write about exactly that. Does it increase your chance of being found? Rhetorical Question obviously.

If you're hosting whisky events why would you not write an article on it and link to your online reservations page to maximise conversion to bookings?

Facebook and Twitter as the graphic indicates have a role top play; but not at the expense of other (higher converting) distribution channels.

To Blog or Not

"My Website's NOT being Found"

The big statement that gets Social Media Gurus across the world salivating and to which these "gurus" will tell you, for sure that "it's not" and that if you give them £1000 a month then they'll make sure it will be.

That's one route to go.

The other is to look at what you can (logically) do for yourself. The first logical thing to do is review your opening gambit and question your starting premise.

What do you mean by your website isn't being found? What is your "website"? Well it is probably an on line representation of your business (generally) and your products and services (specifically) and we all know that its not too often that we're purchasing generally on line but specifically so if your website is very general about what you offer, you can't expect to be found for the specifics. Make sense?

So when you say your website is not being found it's much better to be more clear. Maybe you're not being found for the specifics; you're not being found for business accommodation near the airport or golf breaks in the autumn in Ayrshire; or bistro dining near Ayr.

Once you start accepting that what people are looking for is specific products and services in equally specific location then you may have a chance of getting found by the right people for the right product.

It's a gentle leap, probably a small step actually, from understanding that your customer may be looking more often for products on your website than your website itself to recognising that the most important thing that you can provide for Google and the other search engines is good quality CONTENT.

This short blog has been itself written to provide specific content for a specific audience. In this case students in Ayr attending a one day seminar at Ayr Racecourse to examine on line marketing.

Plan B has been asked to present three short workshops to the students on blogging and this article plays a small part of the workshop leading to a specific call to action at the end of each session.

Blogging – web logging – is fundamentally another method which allows the business to create good quality, search and consumer friendly content that then links back to the core website. In old school marketing, the content helps raise Awareness and generates Interest, creates a Desire for the reader to find out more through the Action of clicking on the link to the offer or proposition on the core website.

Destination driven articles, product news, seasonal events and price lead promotions, even content like job vacancies are all candidates for Blogs and all can benefit from effective copy writing and understanding of who it is that may be looking for your content.

The blog article (and content) will help the business in being found for more of its target key words and phrases. If your business creates an article for example on a Local Golf Week and links it back to the events page on the business website it will achieve the following.
  • Quick indexing by Google of the article content and labels.
  • Increased backlinks to your own site’s relevant page

If you don't have a blog of your own or don't think you've got enough content to write articles on a regular basis, put your foot in the water and offer to write Guest Blogs or create a collaborative blog with businesses with similar markets.

It was for this reason the we set up Scotland's For Me blog - we recognised that there are a whole host of businesses who recognise the theory but struggle with the time to put it into practice. For our web and booking engine clients we provide both a complimentary and complementary service allowing them to publish their content onto our blog with their won images, tags and links directly back to their own pages.

This provides our blog with a great diversity of content but also ticks the box for the business in helping them with the distribution.

How Often Should I Blog?

Ideally write an article when you have something to say.

We often suggest setting up a separate blog site for your business or association and recommend that every time you add a new webpage, or update items, you should create a blog article with a short description, add an image some links back to the webpage and then add “labels” to help the content to be found.
Take it a step further - if you identify in a list all of the areas that you don't think your being found for online then starting proactively writing articles on the subjects. Write five blog articles a week and you will have generated unique and relevant content for more than 250 subjects by next Easter.

Is that going to help you're "website" being found? Rhetorical question.


Blog articles are indexed very quickly and can provide a great way of being found for key search terms that your website has not been getting found for. It is not unusual to be found for specific content and search terms at the top of Google’s first page only a couple of hours after posting.

Unlike Facebook, Blog content also provides a long term relevance too as the articles remain indexed and provide good content for potential visitors. 

The Process - Creating Good Content

Think of your blog article as an introduction piece to a full story - if you can remember those English writing tips and answer Who, What, Why, Where, When and How in the first couple of paragraphs and you'll have a relevant introduction for your readers and search engines alike. The same applies to your website pages as well.

Like a Press Release the first paragraph has to capture the attention and interest and emphasise the relevance to the reader. The objective is only to capture those who have an interest in finding out more and this is best done by making the title and content relevant and clearly defined.

The copy should use your keywords, (business name, product, location, offer, event, dates etc) which will achieve the aim of being found by the search engines and those looking for relevant information.
  • Make your content relevant.
  • Make the title punchy.
  • Tie in external events or news with your web page
  • Use images in every article where possible.
  • Always link back to your own website.
  • Always try to create a call to action.
  • Write relevant Tags for the search engines.
What Content?
Examine your plans for being found by 1) your potential customers and then 2) the search engines. Identify what are your key products, services, events or promotions that you're not being found for and then work towards promoting them through a structured series of Blog Articles.

Where you have a content managed site (and EVERYONE should!) look at your individual webpages and write articles that can convert your blog articles into bookings or sales and link back to them - DO NOT take the easy option and simply link back to your homepage. You have their interest, don't dilute it or weaken their resolve by expecting them to quickly work out your site navigation! Take them straight to the page they want or even to your boookings page.

  • Look at internal and external events and see how you can promote your business with blog content
  • Look at new menus and how they can be highlighted with PDF versions of articles and pages
  • Publish guest articles or reports of events that have taken place
  • Publish links to new image galleries when they become available
  • Stories about your staff and vacancies
  • And if you’re stuck even the weather...well maybe not!
So to the Workshop Task...

Ayrshire Students Blogging for Dinner!

Okay, so the title maybe makes Plan B sound like a major abuser of the government's new workfare programme but in explanation to the rest of you, this blog is for the attention of a group of Ayrshire students who are doing a little bit of online coursework and the practical aspects of blogging! We are not exploiting under nourished students...

The Prize

We understand that a prize for dinner for two at the wonderful Western House Hotel is the prize that's up for grabs to the "winner" of the competition.

The competition itself has another benefit however and that is that it should help raise the profile of an event being held to raise funds for the Vanessa Appeal. It therefore has real relevance and can have genuine impacts.

The Background

Plan B and Dundonald Golf Club have got together to host a charity golf event in August of this year at the Ayshire Links golf course. The event has space for 25 teams of four golfers with an entry fee of £255 per team with proceeds going to the Vanessa Appeal.

The event which is being held for the second year is part of the run up to the Annual Dundonald Games and the key difference is that this event is a KILTED golf classic - all players are expected to play in their kilts.

The event has a website up and running with all of the key information in there along with a page with entry details and a downloadable entry form.

The Challenge
The student challenge is to create a blog page or pages - your call - that will take an aspect of the event with your spin on it and create a blog article that has the direct aim of generating interest from golfers not only from Ayrshire but beyond with a view to selling the event out by the end of March.

Who's your target? Well there's local businesses, local media, local websites, Facebook pages, Twitter. VisitScotland? The newspapers? Golf Websites? Golf Tour Operators? Local hotels, restaurants?

Your goal is to write your blog article and get it read and actioned by as many targeted readers as possible. We will track page views, we shall see blog comments - and part of the challenge is how do you engage users and encourage comments - and hopefully we'll see direct bookings. We will be able to track links into the website form individual articles so make sure you use them too!

The Process
  • Write your article using the guidelines on the Blogging Intro page make sure you've thought about your title, content, images and author name! List your tags at the foot of the article.
  • Put your Articles title into the Subject area of a blank emailPut your content into the message area of your email with the tags below
  • Send the email to the following address 
The competition will "close" on the 31st of March and we shall then decide on the winner. Most page views is going to bepart of the mix, more importantly will be click throughs to the website. Any bookings with an article reference secure big bonus points!

If you have any queries or are looking for advice on how you can achieve something different contact Ian McCaig - please keep it by email only though.

Click For some guidelines on how to build a good blog article