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To Tarbert, with enthusiasm

Back in 2007 we published a guidebook for the Kintyre Way, then at an early stage of development. Over the last three years it has acquired a Ranger, the energetic Owen Paisley, and both its route and its waymarking have been much improved as a result. It just ran a photographic competition, and the winning entry shows Dunaverty Bay, the view that greets the walker at journey's end. I congratulate David Joule of Ulverston Cumbria on his image:

DavidJoule2010.jpg

Yesterday the Kintyre Way group had invited me and two other speakers to its Annual conference in Tarbert. David Adams McGilp, a local man who’d come back to the area as Regional Director for VisitScotland, kicked off. His challenging title was "VisitScotland: who needs us?" and his style refreshingly direct – a pleasant contrast to the corporate marketing speak that we have come to expect.

He stressed the importance of the visitor economy, estimated at £11 billion this year – Scotland's major earner and the key to its recovery. Apparently, 22% of the VisitScotland Growth Fund was spent in Argyll and allegedly 22,000 businesses are now supported by the agency.

People have to come to Scotland and to stay in Scotland in order to come to Kintyre ... It's expensive to get here. It’s expensive to stay here. It’s wet when you get here. How are you going to make coming here worth the bother and the cost?

In relation to online marketing, he pointed out ‘The Internet is now the major platform for marketing. Visitors book their travel online, their transfers online, why would they not want to book their B&Bs and baggage transfer online?’

Then we heard from Ian McCaig who is MD of The Edge, an online marketing company based in Ayr. He galloped through his slides showing a wide range of options at lightning speed, and caused some consternation in the audience by insisting that they have to do all of these. A B&B provider tried to query which is the most important, the blog, tweet or the Facebook page, given that you can't do them all, there are only 24 hours in the day and cooking the breakfast and cleaning the bathrooms aren't optional. However, Ian seemed to insist that all were essential.

Afterwards, I tried to zoom in on what a small business can do, here and now, by way of online marketing that doesn't cost a fortune, doesn't demand new IT skills and doesn't require any lead time. My message was to start by making the most of existing channels. My first two suggestions are quick, easy and completely free. One is to make sure that your business is listed and located correctly on Google maps. In case you've never done this, it's as simple as visit Google maps and follow the instructions to put your business on Google Maps.

My second idea was that they could make more use of our own Kintyre Way forum. With the honourable exception of Owen Paisley and Alison Clements, hardly any Kintyre residents ever post there. Yet it provides a free opportunity to promote their businesses by making relevant posts that includes links to their own websites.

A third was to query why all the Kintyre Way packages are currently offered by companies based in Glasgow, Stirling and Edinburgh, not one in Kintyre? Yet if B&B operators, taxi companies and others were to band together, a Kintyre offering could have many advantages, including lesser environmental impact and more investment in local facilities.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on November 4, 2010 6:30 PM.

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