Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Caithness Hotel Launches New Website and Booking Engine

We are delighted to have put live the new website for the Castletown Hotel, Caithness, Near Thurso. The Castletown Hotel was formerly the St Clair Arms Hotel Caithness which was bought in June 2007 by Andrew and Sandy Mackay, two local brothers.

"We are delighted to offer a very warm welcome at the hotel. We pride ourselves on our traditional hospitality, comfortable B&B (bed and breakfast) accommodation and good home cooking which all combine to provide a home from home for all visitors."

The website is based on one of the Open Rooms Lite Frameworks that we have developed for 2013/14 and has the award winning Bookassist web booking engine fully integrated.

The integration includes designing the booking page and buttons to complement the website itself. This is just one of the major improvements in the Bookassist offering over the apst few months.

The content management system powers the whole website and means that even small operators can control their crucial content and online reservations simply and cost effectively.

Open Rooms lite website packages start from only £795 plus VAT and can be live within a fortnight complete with the Bookassist booking engine.

Download the Open Rooms Lite PDF information here or email us for more information.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Santa Claus Land - Twenty Years On

We've been fortunate to be doing some work recently with Ayrshire based Kirsty Innes Marketing for one of their clients in Glasgow and one of the many ideas that was bounced around the table was the development of a character or characters to front the client business for some of their family, leisure and online markets.

It made me think of some of the previous jobs we'd worked on in the past and in delving deep into the filing cabinet archives we found a couple of folders with some of the materials and background to the project we managed nearly twenty years ago in Aviemore.

It was possibly Plan B's very first client and came through an old Stakis Aviemore colleague who was after a bit of affordable consultancy. He sure got it!

Santa Claus Land was one of those iconic memories from the Aviemore trial of the seventies and if you'd been in the Cairngorms area with kids then the chances are you'd recall the old attraction.

The "theme park" was arguably one of Scotland's first way back in the day when Aviemore was first built as Scotland's tourism playground. The 1990's owners - the Craig Whyte and Charles Green of their day - saw Santa Claus Land as a bit of a PR exercise in their plans to redevelop the whole centre and they subsequently refurbished and reopened SCL. Plan B was playing a small part with the local management team and Edinburgh based architects in trying to build a coherent business plan for the overall redevelopment strategy but had been specifically tasked to develop a short term tactical plan for the relaunch of Santa Claus Land. 

The branding was looked at (long before we had even heard of a Brand Wheel!!) and as well as work on the logo and the basic promotional print materials we had had the idea to support Santa with his helpers and created a range of characters each with their own personalities all with a view to creating a wider revenues stream from associated merchandising. Okay it was hardly a novel premise but for Scotland at that time at least had some unique elements in it! Well we thoughts so at the time!

Anyway, the project evolved into full costumed park characters, T-shirts, badges, marketing materials and family friendly collateral such as the colouring book and small boxed figurines. Twenty years ago nearly. Wow. What could we have done with them with all that online technology and retail?

Anyway, we thought it was worth sharing some of that old work as a piece of affordable retro marketing at its best/worst!

Santa Claus Land Colouring Book

Developed from scratch, we created the characters, their profiles and personas - essence and personality if you wish! - and one of the first things we developed was the old faithful colouring in book.

There is no digital version of this anywhere and the scans in the PDF version below are showing the age (and coffee stains!) of the original which we found in the old files. Still I'm sure there'll be some old Aviemore employees from the day who will download it and get their kids to colour them in! There may even be a competition there!

Images and Print

We've found some of the old brochures. Strange how print is print even two decades on. Okay no QR codes, join us on Facebook or website addresses but content is still content.

Further Reading

Want to reflect further on the old Aviemore? Here's some articles from the archives:

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Say Si to Irvine’s stunning new venue

The waiting is over. Si! Café:Bar:Restaurant, Irvine’s brand new venue of choice,  opened its doors to the public last week and has been greatly received by customers who have already dropped in to see us.

The latest SimpsInns development on the Kilwinning Road is a stunning piece of architecture and design where “two great restaurants, one great SimpsInns venue” will raise the bar on the all day dining and night out experience in Irvine and beyond.

Owners Malcolm and Karen Simpson are delighted with the outcome of Si!, the latest addition in their ever expanding portfolio of Ayrshire venues.

“In many ways it’s a relief to open to the public and the positive feedback Si! has already received has been overwhelming,” explained Malcolm Simpson.

“We have a great team in place and through help from the likes of Irvine Bay Development we were able to bring our latest vision to market. With two restaurants and vibrant bar Si! has 60 employees on the books and has quickly become a new source of sustainable employment for the Irvine area.”

Si! Café:Bar:Restaurant enjoys a distinctive Mediterranean theme where carefully created menus provide a range of mouth watering European dishes with a local Ayrshire twist and all at affordable prices – not to mention promotional drinks offers through the week and wide selection of cocktails.

This dynamic new SimpsInns venue transforms into a late night bar with a collection of themed music and entertainment nights through the week such as our interactive quiz with rollover cash prizes on Tuesday nights (starting March 12th).

Join us for the “cheesy” disco classics on Thursday night before we ramp things up on Friday and Saturday with our resident DJ playing current chart and dance tunes with a late 1am license. And the fun doesn’t stop there for we close the weekend out with a more relaxed R&B set on Sunday evening.

The final touches are being added to Si! Italia on the upper floor, which is due to open later this month. With its palatial finish and break out balcony area, Si! Italia will add another new dimension to the overall Si! experience.

“Si! it, Say it, Live it!”
“Si! – the place to see, the place to be seen”

For further information please contact:

Paul Gallagher at Simpsinns: of visit Si! Website

Plan B and Simpsinns

Plan B have been long term partners of Simpsinns providing web booking engine services through Bookassist for both Gailes Hotel in Irvine and Old Loans Inn near Troon. In addition we have been providing web design and development solutions for the company and for the opening of Si! we have produced one of our "postcard websites" which have been created specifically for restaurants, bars and independent hospitality providers.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Riverside Inn closes for refurbishment

The Riverside Inn just south of Ayr along the busy A77 has closed for an extensive refurbishment programme and is expected to reopen in spring 2013.

Last year, The Riverside Inn was bought by SimpsInns, one of the leading family-owned hospitality groups with bars, restaurants and hotels across Ayrshire. An opportunity arose to acquire The Riverside Inn and owners, Malcolm and Karen Simpson, recognised the potential in the converted farmhouse, which had been operating as a quaint country pub and restaurant.

After taking ownership in June 2012 the owners decided to continue trading for the remainder of the season and only closed the doors after recent Hogmanay celebrations.

The Riverside Inn sits on acres of unspoilt Ayrshire countryside, mature woodland and adjacent to the River Doon. The premises, though warm and homely, were always in need of upgrade and refurbishment.

That said, it didn't stop leading restaurant critic Tam Cowan heap praise on The Riverside Inn on his visit there in 2012. The Simpsons feel now is the right time to carry out the refurbishment project, which they hope to have completed in time for spring this year.

Downloads and Links

SimpsInns is the award winning hospitality group based in Ayrshire and operates:
In 2013 Si! Café:Bar:Restaurant and Si! Italia will open on the Kilwinning Road in Irvine.

SimpsInns Accolades:

  • The Waterside: 'Refurbishment of the Year' (SLTN Awards 2012)
  • Malcolm Simpson: 'Entrepreneur of the Year' (SLTN Awards 2012)
  • SimpsInns: 'Award for Success' Gold Medal winner (DRAM Awards 2012)
  • SimpsInns: 'Ayrshire Family Business of the Year' (Ayrshire Business Awards 2011)
  • Old Loans Inn: 'Small Hotel of the Year' (Golf Tourism Scotland 2011) 
For further information please contact:

Paul Gallagher
Marine Drive
T: 01294 204040