VisitScotland is partnering with Walt Disney for a biggest campaign that the country have ever launched. This global marketing push is to promote Scottish tourism around the international release of Disney’s highlands-set animated film, Brave.
The £7m marketing tie-up marks the first time Disney has teamed up with a country’s tourism board, for launching one of its movies. Released in the UK in August, Brave is set in the Scottish highlands (for information on holidays in scotland highlands) and features characters voiced by Billy Connolly and Kelly Macdonald among others. It has been produced by Disney’s animation studio, Pixar, who also created Toy Story, Up and Finding Nemo. Continue reading
The website for VisitScotland (the national tourism body) has been controversial ever since it was the subject of a PPP contract in 2001. The then minister responsible, Wendy Alexander appointed the IT and oil services firm Sema Schlumberger to provide the private sector expertise. Interestingly, few journalists noted that the bid team for SS was fronted by Wendy Alexander’s previous campaign leader which was an interesting scandal to have missed. After a slow start, it was not long before controversy came avisiting with tourism businesses complaining about the design and functionality of the websites. The company that was responsible for managing the website, eTourism Ltd soon had a reshuffle of shareholders as Sema Schlumberger bailed out after discovering belatedly that this was no juicy public contract but a hard slog with multiple stakeholders, none of whom were easy to work with. The new partner was Tiscover the Austrian destinmation management company that was originally funded by government money in Germany. In 2008 VisitScotland took over ownership of the whole venture, paying off Tiscover.
In 2008, the website itself underwent a redesign that was intended to increase the amount of traffic delivered to business members who had been harshly critical of the website’s perceived failures to deliver business outside of the main cities and to achieve a break with the traditional seasonality of Scottish tourism. A Scottish Parliament report was harshly critical of the venture and its management (link) and its (perceived) inability to engender either enthusiasm or excitement from business stakeholders. Evidence suggested only 450 businesses had taken up the websites toolbox to enable direct online booking.
Which brings us to 2011 and a new £900,000 tender to redevelop the website announced in February (tender details here) and to be undertaken over an 18 month period. From my perspective there is a worrying silence from VisitScotland: there has been no encouragement of different stakeholders to submit ideas or develop brainstormed ideas. No surveys and seemingly no attempt to rethink the underlying model except at the most superficial level of rejigging the weighting of information provision and bookings and sales. A search of the internet and a browse of the visitscotland.org does not register any interesting information or any discussion of the new website. Yet, it is clear that what is called for is a complete break with the past and a much more exciting and more inclusive approach that encourages input from businesses and reshapes the whole structure of the service. Will that happen? It is highly unlikely without some more discussion that the same mistakes will be repeated.