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Haggis, neeps and chatty - What will we do in winter?

Blog post   •   Jan 26, 2015 15:26 GMT

Welcome to our new VisitScotland industry blog called Haggis, neeps and chatty! I’ll be taking you through the Year of Food and Drink 2015 with my monthly ramblings on everything tourism industry related as we embark on this year-long celebration of Scotland’s natural larder.

This month, given that it is winter and the weather is predictably unpredictable, I‘d like to talk about opportunities available to help you attract more visitors during these colder months.

Much is said about the Scottish weather and how it affects our industry. With a 10% increase in international visitor spend in the rolling year up until September 2014, it is certainly possible that the wonderful spring and summer weather last year played its part. Scotland was also bathed in sunshine on screens around the world during the Glasgow XX Commonwealth Games and The Ryder Cup, which welcomed over 950,000 visitors combined on top of the 2 million attendances at Homecoming events across the country.

Compare this to two years before and the dreich summer of 2012 when visitor figures were marginally down all over the UK. So how do we capitalise on the variations in our weather? Perhaps marketing our seasonal changes in weather with more aplomb could help. We’re doing just that and you can too!

Enter the  A-Z of Winter, which offers visitors ideas on what to do from November to March in Scotland. Also keep an eye out for more themed ebooks in the future including our latest on how to create the perfect Burns Supper!

Our blog,  The Distillery and social media channels, have featured lots of inspirational winter content to encourage visitors to wrap up and experience all we have to offer, with features on the annual winter fire festival and beautiful winter images taken by visitors themselves.

And we’re not the only ones making the most of our dramatic winter weather; have you seen Scotland in the breath-taking Haig Club advert?

Another whisky company capitalising on the wintry Scottish scenery is Laphraoig on the Isle of Islay. Over the course of 2014 they asked for feedback and then turned their customers’ mixed opinions into Christmas songs released in December. Stick with the video, it gets progressively windier and wetter and more hilarious! Kim Jeffers’ opinion that it tastes like you’re “being kicked in the face by a horse that’s been galloping in a peaty bog” is certainly an interesting description!

Of course, the winter months are the only time of year that certain activities can be done in Scotland – stalking and shooting is only legal within season; skiing and snowboarding at one of our five wonderful mountain ski resorts are dependent on there being enough snow and mountain biking, let’s face it, is much more fun in the pouring rain.

In fact I did a couple of loops of  Glentress Peel in the Scottish Borders with a friend between Christmas and New Year to work off the mince pies and we got caught in a blizzard!

Help visitors out by listing activities on your website, share local tracks and trails on Facebook and Twitter, offer bike storage and cleaning facilities and perhaps packed lunches and flasks of warm drinks for those out on the mountains, in the fields and on the water all day. If you’re a  Quality Assured business, why not take part in one of our Welcome schemes?

These ideas are geared towards outdoors pursuits because our brand new market segmentation, crafted by VisitScotland’s Insights department from research from over 13,000 UK consumers, reveals that one of our five key target markets is now the ‘Adventure Seekers’. You know, the type of people who have run up and down a mountain and posted a summit-sunrise-selfie on Facebook before you’ve even drained your first lazy Sunday cappuccino.

More on these types of people later in the year (warning: I’m probably one of them), but what better way to enjoy a year of outstanding food and drink than warming up with a hot toddy and some locally produced sweet treats after a day exploring Scotland’s dramatic coastline, highland scenery and inland waterways?

With Laphroaig’s new marketing slogan in mind, opinions welcome, so please feel free to email me your comments, questions and suggestions - leo.plaster@visitscotland.com

Leo