Last Friday, we announced a collaboration of huge importance for Scottish tourism. Our new initiative with TripAdvisor, announced by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at Carnegie Hall, represents a giant step forward in scaling up how we market and sell Scotland to the world, writes Charlie Smith, VisitScotland Director of Marketing.
Tourism is one of Scotland’s biggest and most important industries that puts the country in the international shop window not only as a place to visit, but also to work, live, study and invest. One visit can lead to countless opportunities in an unlimited global marketplace. We must be ambitious; we must plan for accelerated growth but we must also have a plan that can realistically deliver on those growth aspirations.
In a marketplace of such enormity we have to acknowledge the limits of our own VisitScotland channels (website, apps, iCentres etc) and our reach via our campaigns. Our website had 19 million visitors last year and from the content and listings therein generated 3 million business referrals. We will continue to improve, grow and invest in these channels, but there is a great deal more we can do if we look to partner with brands that are trusted by millions of the very same potential visitors we wish to attract. TripAdvisor is one such brand.
The investment we are making with TripAdvisor will bring very real benefits, reaching new visitors and bringing new money into Scotland. This collaboration has the potential to deliver up to £150m over the term of the deal. We know this because the terms of the deal have been modelled carefully based on the vast visitor data TripAdvisor holds and the results of a pilot with them last year to make sure that our collective assumptions added up. They did. We can’t reveal all the commercial details due to our partner’s status as a public company but this will represent a significant return on investment.
With an entirely new Scotland website within TripAdvisor itself, we will be able to directly manage our presence, continually optimising and driving traffic to content which showcases our amazing regions, incredible cities and unique experiences. This is not just a collaboration to benefit VisitScotland, but one that will give even the smallest of businesses a new channel to reach the world, allowing us to continue with our vision to market Scotland with Scotland.
Our multi-year agreement will help us move beyond a commercial relationship with the most popular travel website in the world – it will help drive long term, sustainable growth for Scottish tourism.
As TripAdvisor’s chosen European Test Partner for destination marketing products, we will be quicker to learn and quicker to market. Knowledge exchange will help us clearly measure our performance, while partnership working with the TripAdvisor Charitable Foundation will allow us to scale up our work on social tourism with the industry in Scotland.
It really is vital that we continue to embrace technological advances and forge innovative partnerships with industry leaders such as TripAdvisor. This kind of collaborative working allows us provide a stage for the Scottish tourism industry, helping them attract more business and income from international markets.
Our work now is to ensure that we are ready to welcome the world by making sure as many businesses as possible are bookable online. This will not only ease the planning process for visitors but also mean we are in a position to take full advantage of being the in the global shop window.
With relationships like these, and others, we can build on the positive momentum we have, face into uncertainty and help Scotland’s economy grow to the benefit of everyone in Scotland.