Monday, November 12, 2012
I salute Ed Daynes. (why? See the Ps)
We are very lucky in Glencoe. We have magnificent co-operation between different accommodation providers (B&Bs, self catering and one hotel, the Clachaig Inn). It cannot be bettered.
When a visitor cannot find accommodation, we can directly circulate it to other owners to reply if they have room. Thousands of guests have been accommodated this way over the past few years.
When we have no room ourselves in our cottage, then we direct them first to the DiscoverGlencoe website, and we also say that if the Clachaig Inn cannot help them, then they will circulate the information to everyone. (However, no other hotel seems to bother it must be said)
Why mention this? Because last week VisitScotland announced in a specious press release blaming the European Commission that it would no longer be able to take bookings for members on its website. The European reference is bunkum. This excuse is trotted out by every government department known to man when it has to done something unpopular.
It has always been a mess that booking system, ever since they sold responsibility for the website to an outside company. Massive complaints, petitions to the Scottish Parliament from thousands of owners, the lot. The previous management were true egocentric rubbish, the new ones seem a bit better.
VS as it charmingly calls itself, could never make their booking system work well for members. VS is expensive to join, and there are also complaints about the way it grades properties. Having said that, by and large people who go to 4 star properties are pretty well satisified with them. There are few, if any, poor service owners amongst them. 3 star owners vary from good to poor.
We are not members of VisitScotland and never have been. I was taken aback by their arrogance and attitude when Gillian and I visited their offices to ask about their service when we started.
I was a very vocal critic of VS a few years back, but in my view they have improved their general marketing since the new management took over.
I actually think this new move is the start of them cleaning up their act. It will get down their costs. They can't compete in this new online world. Thousands of Owners like us have now got our own websites and we know how to market our properties ourselves. Through avoiding VS membership we have saved nearly £2,000 in fees since we started, and it forces us to do the job properly.
ITS NOT ALL BLACK FOR VS
However, I do believe that VS is doing a magnificent job in advertising and promoting Scotland. They have a sensible European promotion strategy, they've dropped the fancy management trips to America just to get a golfer or two to Fife.
The VS promotion to the English market via advertising and pr is absolutely top class. The reputation of Scotland as a holiday destination is very very high. People who have never visited Scotland tell me they are thinking about it now.
It is not going to be popular to say this, but I have a feeling that they may get the grading system sorted out next.(Tip to VS. Get something going like the Checkatrade reporting system for service providers. That will put you at the forefront of world tourist organisations. It will also slash a large part of the property inspection costs)
Then you'll have a bigger budget for advertising.
ps. I can be accused, quite properly, of using the benefit of Scotland's advertising without paying any contribution towards it. My answer would be twofold. First, through having a property for let about 40 weeks of the year we have brought in up to £120,000 of tourist spend in Glencoe since we have had the property. Second, if someone asks us for a sensible levy, we will pay it.
pps. Why the reference to Ed Daynes. Well, he is the owner of the Clachaig Inn and it was his personal inspiration and drive which set up our Glencoe accommodation system. He got everyone to support it. It is the Ed Daynes of this world which you need to get the thing going properly. Not committees. Not time servers.
GLENCOE OUTDOORS The best walks in Glencoe Ben Nevis, go climb it Munros are over 3,000 feet Some Munros are easy Glencoe rock climbing Skiing in Glencoe is excellent again New cycle tracks around Glencoe There are lovely beaches and bays around Glencoe Accommodation Fort William Golf on the West coast Tour the Highlands You can cruise the West coast Driving around glencoe on snow and ice - Tips BLOGS Travellers Tales from the highlands of Scotland Find your ideal holiday cottage anywhere The most beautiful photographs of Glencoe The achingly beautiful area of Appin, Scotland Special offers for self catering in Scotland