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Exciting Ways to Spend Your Tourism Grants: 7 Great Ideas for Activities and Events

Exciting Ways to Spend Your Tourism Grants: 7 Great Ideas for Activities and Events

If you’re a travel and hospitality business and you’ve received one of the many tourism grants available for you, then you face a tricky question…

How do you use your award to maximise your success?

A powerful answer is to develop public activities and events to promote your business and attract more visitors!

Supporting the Tourism Sector can be a Challenge.

If you run eligible businesses in the tourism sector, it can be a real challenge to know just how to use the financial support you’ve received. 

Not all local authority funding programmes give clear guidelines for the critical areas in which you can spend your grant funding. 

As we all know, it can be hard to develop your projects whilst supporting local tourism businesses.

However, organising a range of engaging activities is a great way to use recovery funding to build growth

High-profile public events hosted by your business can promote responsible tourism and bring investment to a range of leisure sectors.

They can also go a long way to aiding a region’s economic recovery, which is of invaluable benefit to you!

7 Awesome Ideas for the Tourism Industry

I’ll give you 7 great ideas for things that tourism businesses can spend their grants on. They’re guaranteed to increase visitor numbers and boost businesses impacted by Covid 19.

I want you to bring your marketing strategy to life, so keep reading to learn more!

1. Host a Local Food and Drink Festival 

two men at food and drink festival

Food and drink festivals are a great way to attract visitors and promote your business. They can be a lot of fun, too! 

You could host the festival at your site, bringing new visitors to your destination.  

Alternatively, choose a high-profile location and promote the full range of your services to a big crowd. 

When organisations and communities come together, the tourism industry thrives. That’s just the kind of scheme that benefits visitors and businesses alike.

Working with partners, local suppliers, and producers gives you an excellent opportunity to support one another and contribute to the local economy. 

It’s also a fantastic way to achieve your aim of increased bookings and profits!

What Kind of Festivals Work Best?

There are many different food and drink festivals, so you’re sure to find one that suits your business.

Some ideas for local food and drink festivals include: 

  • Fresh local produce festival (seafood, poultry, cheeses, bread, fresh vegetables – any local specialities will work)
  • A wine or beer festival with tastings and talks
  • A food truck festival full of diverse cuisine
  • A chilli cookoff
  • A themed festival that links with an event or your brand

2. Organize a Citywide Scavenger Hunt

find city scavenger hunt

One of the best things you can spend your money on to support the hospitality and leisure sectors is organising events and activities to attract visitors to your city. 

A scavenger hunt is a perfect way to do this – it’s fun and family-friendly, and there are endless possibilities for directing interested customers to specific attractions.

Bringing this kind of financial support to your community is great for every industry, as many different businesses can contribute, from advertising agencies to restaurants! 

How Could a Scavenger Hunt Support Businesses?

Scavenger Hunts need prizes, and not only could you provide these (they make great advertising opportunities), but you could develop projects to provide financial support for other companies too. 

It’s an excellent chance to generate publicity and encourage potential customers to seek further information about your brand.

I think it’s a great idea to include historically significant locations by focusing on tourism destinations and attractions like museums or monuments

A scavenger hunt is interactive and fun for participants – so make sure the clues aren’t too challenging!

3. Plan a Series of Outdoor Concerts or Movie Nights

adventure cinema website

Concerts and movie nights are great opportunities to build goodwill, celebrate your brand, and network within the tourism industry. 

You’ll also have a fun time, which is a great bonus!

You’ll need a venue of significant size for this kind of activity, but that’s where teaming up with other tourism businesses in your sector can be so effective. 

Regular community projects can get businesses like yours the kind of support it deserves. 

You can build links with other organisations or publicise a product or service you’ve launched. If the guidance indicates that your business is eligible, concerts and movie nights can provide tangible profits in the tourism sector.

The Added Bonuses of Outdoor Events

I recommend using funds to create a marketing video that showcases your services and make sure it’s played at every concert or show. 

Where large groups gather, you’ll also have the opportunity to build partnerships with local food and drink providers and create a myriad of advertising opportunities.

That means you can boost your brand, from marketing holiday accommodation to selling your projects or products.

4. Sponsor a Local Art Exhibition or Photography Contest

paintings on a wall

Sponsorship is also an incredibly effective way to use some of the financial support you receive to market your business.

Whenever your funding allows, sponsoring high-profile initiatives in the community will help boost your visitor numbers and add to your retail opportunities.

Why not sponsor an art exhibition or photography contest? 

It’s a great way to show off local talent and promote your properties, branding or service. It can also be a fun event for guests to attend!

What’s in it for You?

Exhibitions with an extended display period offer a significant opportunity for business support. After all, they give businesses like yours the space to communicate messaging and products within the community. 

Contests can also generate lots of local and online publicity opportunities, and you might even get the chance to judge the winner!

5. Create a Themed Walking Tour of Your City or Neighbourhood

themed walking tour examples

Your neighbourhood is a powerful, often untapped resource.

So, why not create a themed walking tour to promote your area’s tourism and generate publicity and sales? 

That’s a terrific way to show off your city or neighbourhood and attract interested visitors. 

It can also be a fun activity for locals to explore their city differently.

Walking tours work well when linked to an allied initiative or event.  They could also be part of a tremendous stand-alone strategy to promote tourism in your industry

After all, the hospitality sector lends itself to engaging and entertaining guests, and with suitable investment, they could become excellent marketing opportunities

What Kinds of Tours Could I Provide?

The only limit is your imagination!

There are many different ways to create a themed walking tour. You could choose an interesting or unique theme, such as:

  • ghost tours of your city 
  • art galleries and murals in your neighbourhood
  • historical buildings with interesting stories to tell about them (such as haunted houses)
  • tourist attractions in your area (such as parks, museums and monuments)
  • local businesses and services that are worth visiting or trying out. 

You could even develop marketing and print publicity materials for these tours to provide information and advertising space for local businesses!

6. Create Community Outreach and School Visit Opportunities 

You can generate projects that reach out and connect with the local community with funding available. 

More than that, you can develop exciting opportunities for community groups to access your services or even get mutually beneficial connections going with schools and colleges. 

That could mean organising visits for school groups, hosting meet-and-greets or other events that welcome locals or putting together special offers for residents. 

It’s also a powerful way to get the word out about your business and create some goodwill in the community.

Be an Industry Known for Local Investment

Maybe your business can support school groups on field trips, offer advice to students looking for careers in your sector or even contribute resources and equipment?

Businesses in the tourism and hospitality sector have a lot to offer in the way of expertise and advice. The marketing opportunities often make the investment in the local economy worthwhile.

7. Run a Sporting or Gaming Event at Your Venue

group of people celebrating

Hosting a sporting or gaming event is always a great way to bring in new business and give people a reason to visit your venue!

That could be anything from darts tournaments to golf competitions or even video game challenges. 

It’s the perfect opportunity to show off what your venue has to offer and attract new customers.

Liaising with visitors in sports and gaming communities is ideal for developing a more extensive online network and might even boost your digital marketing campaigns

The influx of participants and guests to your site is sure to bring a great deal of investment to the communities you serve.

Just remember to research the options, visit similar events and make sure you’re eligible to use your funding for this kind of initiative!

Conclusion: Using Tourism Grants for Activities and Events Leads to Massive Growth!

Tourism and hospitality businesses that create exciting community projects will always generate opportunities for sales and marketing. 

Need help with your marketing and branding? Let us know. We are here to support you on your journey.

Your local profile is likely to increase, and the online marketing opportunities caused by this kind of one-off payment are priceless.

Providing business support to eligible tourism and hospitality companies is a priority for many funding bodies.  Now’s the time to plan big and make the most of the loans and finance options available.

Comment below if you have any questions! 

Have you used tourism grants for activities or events and seen growth in your business as a result? We would love to hear about your experience!

 

tourism grants
5 Great Business Start-Up Grants in Scotland to Apply for Now

5 Great Business Start-Up Grants in Scotland to Apply for Now

Getting the proper financial support is vital if you want to grow your travel business fast. 

Okay, you know that already, however….

Did you know that there are business start-up grants in Scotland available for creative industries and business finance for social enterprises just like yours?

Understanding the business grants you are eligible for is key to future growth if you’re a start-up business in the travel and tourism sector. 

There are Many Start-Up Business Grants to Choose From in Scotland

Business grants play an essential role in any new business idea, and there are several business start-up grants available in Scotland. 

Yes, I’m talking about the FREE money available to leverage in your business right now!

That’s excellent news for you if you want to get your business off the ground but don’t have the financial resources to do so. 

From local enterprise solutions to broader national funds, you’ll find options to help you start your hospitality business the right way.

How can Straight Up Websites Help?

I will give you a brief overview of some business start-up grants available in Scotland. You’ll learn how to apply for them and get ideas for spending your funding with a zero-waste approach. 

(I want you to make the most of the opportunities available to you and make sure you get the most out of what Scotland has to offer with their excellent schemes)

I’ll also give you the chance to get your website built and optimised to provide you with an authentic Scottish edge!

1. What are Business Start-up Grants in Scotland, and how do They Work?

scottish enterprise website

Business start-up grants are financial awards provided to help business owners get started. Scottish travel and tourism businesses are often the recipients of this kind of support.

The purpose of these grants is to help businesses get off the ground and become successful. To be eligible for a business start-up grant, you must meet specific criteria. 

You may need to demonstrate that your business has a high potential for growth or job creation. 

Does your company contribute positively to the local community or economy?

If so, you are on the right track, and help is available!

The Scottish Enterprise Website is a Great Starting Point

Here’s a list of the leading business start-up grants on the Scottish Enterprise website. New businesses in Scotland can benefit from:

The Starter Company Plus Grant

This grant offers up to £5000 in financial assistance.

If you are a small business that has been trading for less than 12 months and you have a maximum of two employees, then this may be for you.

The New Enterprise Allowance

The NEA grant offers up to £2000 in financial assistance.

It’s not as much as some other grants, but it can be a real boost if appropriately used.

This money is to help you kickstart your business from the ground up. To be eligible for this grant, you must have been unemployed for at least six months.

The Manufacturing Start-Up Grant

This grant offers up to £5000 in financial assistance.

A bit more than the NEA grant, and you can certainly make more of an impact.

Do you own a business solely manufacturing products in Scotland? If so, you will probably meet the criteria here and will likely be eligible…

Make sure to apply! You’ll be surprised how many put it off and miss out.

If you meet the eligibility criteria for any of these grants, you can usually apply online.

Remember that you’ll need to provide detailed information about your business, including your business plan, projected income and expenditure.

How Does the Application Process Work?

Each grant will likely have different criteria and will demand a direct application.

Sometimes, public sector organisations like local councils will manage funding applications. 

On other occasions, the Scottish Growth Scheme (at the Scottish Government website) might take the lead. Similarly, Highlands and Islands Enterprise organisations might calculate eligible costs.

Once you’ve submitted your application, Scottish Enterprise staff will assess it. You will gain a business start-up grant if your application is approved.

You will be surprised how smooth and easy the process is once you get started.

2. What Types of Businesses can Apply for a Start-up Grant in Scotland?

fsb - small business sustainability hub

Any business can apply for a start-up grant in Scotland, but the company’s location must be Scotland

The important thing is that the company is new and can grow and create jobs in Scotland. 

(Of course, this is why the grants exist, after all!)

That’s why business grants are so relevant to industries in the travel and tourism sector. The potential positive impact of these grants as a business gateway is evident. 

Grant recipients can quickly establish local links. We have seen it repeatedly. 

Some of the most common small business grants accessed by travel and tourism companies include:

The Innovation Grant

These grants help businesses develop new products or services. 

These awards meet the demands of various purposes, such as product development, market research, or business planning

So, how much funding is available for these innovation grants?

The available funding varies depending on the business’s needs (which you will need to layout clearly).

The Young Enterprise Scheme 

This scheme provides financial assistance to younger business owners who want to start their businesses. 

It’s open to anyone aged 16-30 years old, and the grant is worth up to £2000. 

We love this scheme. It’s not just supporting a great industry but also the younger generation!

These companies can use the money for various purposes, such as marketing, business supplies, or hiring staff, giving the younger generation an extra opportunity to get ahead of the game.

The Starter Company Grant

This grant provides financial assistance to business owners who want to start or expand their businesses. 

Sound good?

This one’s open to all companies, and there is no specific industry requirement, making it perfect for the hospitality sector.

The grant is worth up to £5000, and businesses can use the money for various purposes, from marketing to business supplies.

Ensure you understand the eligible project costs and the kind of business support you need, and the chances are your business will be covered under the Scottish Growth Scheme. 

Several private organisations offer business grants, such as the Prince’s Trust and the Federation of Small Businesses

Do your research and see which is best for you and your business.

3. The Benefits of Receiving a Business Start-up Grant in Scotland

young enterprise scheme information page

The benefits of working in partnership with organisations like the Highlands and Islands Enterprise project are endless.

You’ll get the financial assistance you need to get your business up and running.

Not only that…

You’ll also have access to many resources and support programs available through the grant program. That can include help with marketing, team member training, and so much more.

The Funding to Flourish

Perhaps the most prominent and immediate benefit is the extra value that funding brings to your business. 

What do I mean by that?

It allows you to move ahead with projects and provides the space for new companies to grow at a much faster pace. 

Support and Advice are Vital Benefits

Working in partnership gives you access to networks, support, advice and guidance.

From clarifying your vision in the application to ongoing checks and targets, drawing on the experience of others is of tremendous value.

Boost Your Skills Development

Funding can provide your start-up with the resources to invest in skills development, whether you are a solo entrepreneur or run a medium-sized business. 

It is vital to use finance to develop your skills, from IT skills development to health and safety certification or food hygiene

4. How can I use a Business Start-up Grant in Scotland?

woman looking at a website

Business start-up grants in Scotland can help you get your business off the ground and meet your long-term goals. 

And, remember…you don’t have to pay them back!

Your grant money can cover the costs of starting up, such as renting office space or purchasing equipment. You can also use it to fund marketing and advertising campaigns or cover the cost of training employees. 

One of the most valuable investments you can make is to develop your website and online marketing strategy.

If you get this right, you will save yourself time, hassle, and money on advertising.

Great Ways to use Your Grant

Scottish businesses based in the tourism sector can also invest funding into a range of important projects. 

These can bring a greater level of profitability to your organisation. Local authorities are often keen to work with UK small businesses that are dynamic and original.

Build Your Branding

Investing in branding and marketing can be an exceptionally productive and profitable exercise. 

It usually involves collaboration with marketing professionals who will research and offer detailed brand suggestions. Getting your branding right can often make the difference between making a sale or not!

Use Funding for Your Business Infrastructure

If your business needs improvements to existing facilities, this is an excellent use of capital. 

Get it right from the start and save the regrets later…

You could improve social distancing measures and contactless technology. You could also update visitor-facing resources and facilities and use the opportunity to generate significant local and online publicity. 

Host Exciting Community Events

Some funding available to businesses offers start-ups the chance to develop a programme of local events to attract visitors to your venue. 

They also help to boost your profile! 

Have you considered hosting some exciting sporting or charity events? 

…or how about sponsoring festivals or links with museums or other local partners.

5. Things to Keep in Mind when Starting your Travel and Tourism Business

importance of a marketing plan

There are a few key things to keep in mind when starting your travel and tourism business. 

Here are a few key recommendations, from what we have seen the leaders in the industry doing well:

Do Your Research

Firstly, it’s essential to research and understand the industry before launching your business. 

You should also be aware of the competition and what sets your business apart from others. Focus on your unique selling point and craft a fantastic experience from the outset.

Establish a Marketing Strategy

Another critical thing to consider is your marketing strategy – how will you attract customers?

If you haven’t got a solid marketing plan, you probably won’t have much success. 

Think of your company as a business gateway working in partnership with a range of other organisations. Draw on their experience

Identify your ideal visitor and tailor your products and services to their profile.

Create a Solid Business Plan

Do you know the travel industry well? Have you got your financial projections accurately planned? Are you clear on how Scottish Government initiatives can help small and medium-sized businesses? 

It’s vital to ensure you have a solid business plan in place. Be prepared for bumps in the road!

Conclusion: Make the Most of the Business Start-Up Grants in Scotland Available to You!

Several business start-up grants are available in Scotland for those looking to contribute to the travel and tourism industry. 

Done well, this can be an extremely lucrative business, so it’s worth exploring all of your options when it comes to funding. 

Need help? Let us know. We are here to help and support you on your journey.

You can make your business a success with the correct planning and preparation!

If any of you have received support for your travel business, let us know how you used the funding and what you found worked in the comment section below! Maybe you might just be able to inspire others!

 

business start-up grants in scotland
The 5 Phases of Tourism Experiences: Creating Memorable Holidays

The 5 Phases of Tourism Experiences: Creating Memorable Holidays

What Makes a Holiday Memorable? 

Is it the destination, the activities, the people you meet? It can be hard to explain just what makes a memorable tourism experience. However, understanding this part of the tourism industry is critical for crafting these holiday experiences.

I regularly advise my clients about this aspect of hospitality and tourism management. It’s one of the many ways we help our partners develop marketing strategies and build memorable experiences.

Understanding the Five Phases of Memorable Holidays

I will walk you through the five emotional phases your tourism company should focus on when creating unforgettable tourism experiences.

These phases will help you better understand what your customers are looking for, from anticipation and excitement to happiness and satisfaction. They might even help you redesign your marketing strategy or boost your tourist attraction!

1. Anticipation is Key to a Great Tourist Experience

tourism company reviews page

The phase where your customers plan their trip and get excited for their upcoming holiday is crucial. The most memorable trips often start well before the typical tourist packs their bags! 

If a visitor comes to you with a tourist destination in mind, providing stories, images, reviews, and even testimonials add to their anticipation. You should focus on creating attractive and appealing marketing materials to capture the attention of your potential visitors. 

Your Research Builds Their Anticipation

Holiday planning is when your customers are likely to undertake extensive research on their destination and preferred activities. 

Investing in experiential tourism means giving customers a range of choices.

You also need to make sure they’ve got all the information they need to make great choices. You can start their memorable journey from guides on local culture to alternatives to the best hotel room.

Finally, tourism businesses should create a sense of anticipation and excitement for their customers by providing them with regular updates on their holiday plans.

Emphasising the travel narratives of previous customers works well and adds confidence. Regularly highlight a particular experience or range of tourist attractions to keep your visitors interested.

In short, your engagement doesn’t stop when the booking is complete. Your client’s memorable experience is only just beginning, and you’re central to making it personal.

2. Excitement is Part of the Tourism Experience

engaging tourism email

Okay, so your visitor is now a paying customer, they have made the booking, and now this is the stage where travellers are full of anticipation and can’t wait to get started on their trip. 

Data analysis shows that, just before departure, tourism companies should increase their level of contact with guests.

Now is the time to add to their excitement and positivity by sharing photos and videos of the destination. You could also provide detailed information about what to expect and arrange airport pickups and transfers

Help Customers Finalise Their Plans

At this stage, your travellers are also trying to finalise their plans and looking for last-minute deals. It would help if you offered discounts and promotions to encourage travellers to book their trip or invest in profitable add-ons.

Finally, offering exclusive experiences or VIP access to attractions and events can generate excitement. You should work to create an experience that is unique and exciting. One that travellers will remember for years to come.

3. Encountering New Destinations and Local People

web page offering cultural tours

The third phase of tourism experiences occurs when travellers encounter new destinations and local people

It can be an exciting but nerve-wracking experience exploring a foreign place and communicating with locals. 

Some tourists feel like they are on an adventure to discover new sights and sounds. However, others find it overwhelming to navigate their way around!

Provide new Tourism Experiences

The excitement of exploring a new place is a popular reason for travel. 

Whether it’s discovering ancient ruins, tasting new foods, or encountering different cultures, the thrill of new experiences is a significant driver of tourism. You must create opportunities for your guests to have these kinds of experiences.

One way to do this is to partner with local organisations and businesses to provide unique and exciting experiences…

An approach like this can include arranging a traditional dance performance to take guests on a nature hike. Whatever you do, make sure that the experiences you provide are truly unique and offer a new perspective on the destination.

Keeping the Encounters Comfortable

You can help cautious travellers by providing clear information about the destination and organising tours with knowledgeable guides. 

You can also help them connect with locals by arranging meetups or social events. You will allow travellers to learn more about visiting the place’s culture and customs.

Try to ensure the traveller feels safe and comfortable in this new environment (without removing the pleasure of a new adventure!)

If you can manage to create an environment where guests feel like they’re constantly encountering new and exciting things, you’ll be on your way to creating a memorable holiday.

4. Engagement Makes a Memorable Tourism Experience

myths and mountains activities page

Once a tourist is attracted to your destination, you must keep them engaged. Achieve this outcome through the activities, events, and attractions you have on offer.

It’s essential to provide a variety of activities that will interest different people. For example, someone who loves nature may want to hike, while someone who loves history may visit a museum.

It is also essential to keep the tourist engaged throughout the entire experience. 

You can do this by providing a well-rounded package that includes activities, food and culture. If your tourism company can keep its tourists engaged throughout their entire experience, your customers are more likely to have a memorable holiday.

Great Ways to Keep Visitors Engaged

Keeping your clients engaged on their holidays is a critical element of successful hospitality and tourism management. 

My top five tips are:

  1. Activities: Provide a variety of activities that will interest different people. Repeat them where possible to allow novelty seekers to try new things.
  2. Events: Host events that will keep tourists engaged and interested in the destination; Not everyone will want them, but a tourist’s experience will be more engaging if they have the choice!
  3. Attractions: Have attractions unique to the destination and keep tourists coming back for more. An excellent tourist experience relies on having amazing new things to do!
  4. Culture: Showcase the destination’s culture and give tourists a taste of the local way of life. Tourism research indicates that many visitors want to know the country and its customs.
  5. Food: Offer a variety of local food that will tantalise tourists’ taste buds. Experiencing foods that are brand new makes a perfect travel experience. 

Supporting Your Clients’ Well Being

You can do a few things to help support tourists on holiday with you…

One of the most important is to ensure that all information is in one place. Include maps, directions, and contact information. It is also helpful to have staff fluent in multiple languages to communicate with tourists worldwide.

It’s also essential to provide 24/hour support for tourists. Achieve this by having a hotline to call if they need help. You could also have staff available to help with anything that may come up.

A Safe and Secure Environment Works Best

Finally, it’s essential to provide tourists with a safe and secure environment. You’ll guarantee a memorable tourism experience if you can achieve all this!

5. Extension and Reflection Builds a Partnership

booking.com positive feedback videos

Once a visitor has returned, tourism studies show that companies should continue to engage with them positively. 

You should provide ways for travellers to extend their memorable experiences and reflect on them. Do this through social media, photo sharing, or even providing a forum for feedback. 

Staying Engaged Works for Everyone

By remaining engaged, you have a valuable opportunity for data collection and forging lasting partnerships. 

After all, positive tourist experiences are suitable for your business, and capturing positive feedback is a crucial marketing strategy.

Extending the experience allows travellers to keep their holiday memories alive, and reflection helps them learn and grow from their experiences. These are valuable aspects of tourism that can help make memories (and travel relationships) last a lifetime.

Conclusion: Engage and Support to Enhance the Tourism Experience

Different travellers want different experiences, but what links all holidaymakers together is this process of engagement and support.

The five phases of tourism experiences provide a valuable framework for creating memorable holidays. By focusing on each stage, companies can ensure that their travellers have a rich and rewarding experience.

A key element to remember is that, as a travel business, you also need to use this information to draw potential visitors in and convert them into customers. If your marketing and branding can illustrate in advance the life-affirming and exciting service they’ll receive, you’re far more likely to do just that.

tourism experiences
5 Powerful Ways to Leverage Tourism Funding to Bounce Back

5 Powerful Ways to Leverage Tourism Funding to Bounce Back

If you run a travel-related or hospitality business tourism funding is available for you in these difficult times. You’ll know the impact of the global pandemic on the tourism industry has been significant.

With COVID-19 sweeping the globe, many people have been unable or reluctant to leave their homes or travel abroad. 

This unexpected circumstance has resulted in a significant decline in tourism revenue for many countries. Compared to the previous year, the UK travel and tourism industry saw its income halved in 2020 due to the pandemic!

Help is on its Way!

It’s the same story globally

However, governments, local authorities and the private sector are all offering financial support packages to help businesses in the tourism sector recover.

This article will outline how you can use these funding programmes for your tourism business and invest in ways to bounce back.

1. Engage With Your Customers to Keep Them Focused on Your Services

What’s a great way to keep your business present in the mind of your customers?

Use tourism funding to develop a coordinated engagement programme. Eligible businesses can use a range of business support options to fund developments to these essential service elements.

Regularly contacting existing and potential customers through a dynamic content management system can positively boost your profits.

content management system website

How can Funding Opportunities Help Businesses Impacted by Covid?

Tourism and hospitality businesses can use social media or email marketing campaigns to achieve this level of contact. 

The more you interact with your customers, the more likely they will remember your tourism business. That means they’re more likely to return for future services. 

Essentially, interacting with your customers and increasing engagement will add to your economic recovery.

An excellent place to start would be an Instagram account where you post pictures from your venue every day…reach out to influencers and see if they will help you promote your brand. You will be surprised how many will be more than willing!

You could introduce different members of staff. Even if you don’t feel like you have a full range of events to promote, you’d be amazed at how many opportunities you have to publicise what you do. 

Visitors love to know what you have to offer and enjoy direct contact.

Ways to Keep Customers Engaged and Focused

There are other ways that funding investment into the direct contact options available to you can increase your revenue:

  1. Improve the efficiency and reach of your mailing lists
  2. Develop and distribute a regular newsletter via email
  3. Integrate social media feeds with your website
  4. Plan and publicise special offers for returning customers
  5. Develop a regular posting and contact strategy or timetable
  6. Share work in progress and everyday activities (as well as big news) 
  7. Keep your brand voice consistent across platforms
  8. Advise tourists, guide them and provide more value than your competitors

Learn how to maintain your website and keep visitors coming back.

2. Develop your Website and Online Resources for Maximum Functionality

One of the single most important steps your business can take to recover is to ensure that your website is working as hard as you are.

After all, most visitors’ first impression of your brand is online. That’s where you need to stand out if you’re going to flourish in the future.

calanais website design

What Should Your Website be Doing for You?

5 key ways you could use recovery funding to improve your brand are:

  1. Booking Management System and enhanced web functionality
  2. Brand strategy, bring out your brand story and communicate your journey
  3. Email marketing, building email lists and improving points of contact
  4. A clean, crisp, modern website that is easy to use
  5. SEO, getting in front of more tourists!

The Calanais Standing Stones is an excellent example of a website we built combining ease of use with functionality and great design

This local organisation was a recipient of funding for tourism, and we were delighted to work with them to give their brand a complete overhaul. They’re now ready for a bright, post-pandemic future!

Check out our article on using funding opportunities to market your tourism and hospitality business here

3. Make Sure you Know What Your Competitors are Doing, and do it Better!

With the tourism sector being a globally competitive industry, knowing what your competitors are doing is essential. 

You also need to understand how you can do it better…

You may not be able to improve on everything they offer or make every single aspect of their business model work for you. However, there will always be something that you can do better than them if you put your mind to it! 

And remember: tourism is all about the visitor experience. Don’t underestimate any detail that could help give you a competitive edge.

2021 video marketing report

Top Tourism Industry Strategies

Why not try developing projects that reward loyalty or repeat customs to encourage more business? 

You could work with a range of local or online partners. They could help improve the depth of your offer, supporting other businesses in your internal market. 

Remember, it’s not just about reducing prices, but also about improving quality. Investment in training programmes or qualifications for staff would be a great way to enhance your offer too.

You could also use the funding for promotional purposes. After all, there’s no point doing something better than your competition if no one knows about it!

If you want to take your tourism marketing efforts up a notch, consider investing in good quality video content. According to the 2021 Wyzowl Video Survey, 93% of marketers say it is essential to include videos within a marketing strategy. 

These same experts believe that it has helped them increase their overall revenue. It could be an excellent way for your tourism business to use some of the financial support on offer!

Social media is dominated by video content these days! If you can create engaging and visually appealing videos, you’ll be able to reach a whole new audience on platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

4. Use Contactless Technology to Encourage Customer Wellbeing and Confidence

Funding programmes financed by the central government are often concerned with the overall development of responsible tourism

That can come in many forms. You should ensure that critical areas of customer wellbeing and confidence prioritise physical venues.

Businesses in the tourism industry can use this financial support by investing in contactless technology. This investment might not seem like a priority when compared with potential improvements to the infrastructure of your venue. 

However, publicising the lengths tourism businesses go to when safeguarding their visitors can result in greater booking confidence.

contactless technology information page

What Kinds of Contactless Technology can I Use?

Contactless technology has tremendous potential, and if your funding allows it, you might consider its use in:

  • Visitor display materials
  • Ticketing and venue information
  • Publications and products
  • Surveys and feedback
  • Orders and bookings
  • Visitor counts
  • Payments and contributions

Ways to minimise physical contact but retain a high level of interaction are fantastic opportunities. 

You’ll need to ensure that your hardware integrates smoothly with your online systems, most importantly your website!

5. Use Tourism Funding to Engage Directly With Your Local Community

The financial support offered to businesses in the tourism industry can fund a wide range of community initiatives. 

From one-off events to the sponsorship of ongoing initiatives, they give businesses and residents a chance to contribute to the local economy. 

If these events have a sustainable bias, then using grants or a one-off payment to benefit this type of scheme is a great way to raise your profile. Plus, you can take advantage of a full range of income-generating opportunities. 

Businesses previously supported with recovery funding may well be eligible for a top-up payment. That can make the effort of developing community outreach projects particularly rewarding.

uk government tourism recovery plan

How Can Business Support Benefit the Local Community?

There are many ways that the kind of business support you provide can add to local economic recovery. They can also help your own business grow. 

Try developing projects with other local venues or charities to raise your profile. Equally, you could consider investing in school projects or supporting a scheme to improve transport links.

You could enhance infrastructure or marketing and connect with other relevant programmes in your sector.

Although it might not happen immediately, the publicity attached to improving your community can generate lots of positive support. You can use this as the basis of some outstanding marketing campaigns.

Great Ideas for Moving Forward

If you’re thinking about using growth or recovery funding to set up initiatives or stand-alone events, then there are a wide range of ideas out there. 

Examples are hosting tournaments, conventions or concerts, festivals, themed occasions and more. You can find many ideas for spending your tourism grants by developing activities and events online.

For further information, it’s also worth reading the UK Tourism Recovery Plan, which outlines the ongoing strategy for tourism funding in the UK.

Conclusion: Invest in Your Online Presence to Bounce-Back From the Pandemic

Spending money after a period of sustained loss can feel counter-intuitive

However, investing tourism funding to build your business up and attract back cautious customers is the right strategy for growth

Investing in your brand, website, and online presence is the best solution to prepare your tourism and hospitality business. It’ll also bring the successful future that you and your customers deserve!

tourism funding
5 Small Business Grants in Scotland You Can Easily Apply For Today

5 Small Business Grants in Scotland You Can Easily Apply For Today

If you’re a business owner in Scotland working in tourism and hospitality, you’ll know that alongside your regular income, getting access to the proper business grants in Scotland is vital.

Without the support of a range of grant schemes, it’s all too easy for Scottish businesses to miss essential growth targets. There is also the risk to ignore a critical development project or business idea.

How Business Grants in Scotland Might Just be the Boost You Need!

Happily, several small business grants are available. These grants offer small businesses a valuable level of financial support. This article will outline five of the best small business grants that hospitality businesses like yours can access. 

Like the Scottish Growth Scheme, some of these business grants in Scotland can help with start-up costs and marketing expenses. Others on the Scottish Government website can help businesses affected by COVID-19 restrictions. 

So, from hospitality businesses to the creative industries, if you’re looking for a grant scheme to help bring your business plan to life, we’ve got good news for you!

1. Business Support and Continuity Tourism Fund (for Hospitality)

visit scotland website page

If you run your own business in the hospitality sector, the Business Support and Continuity Tourism Fund supports many companies, including those previously received help. It is well worth investigating.

Working with STERG, VisitScotland has put together a package designed to support:

  • Coach operators
  • Day tour operators
  • Hostels
  • Inbound tour operators
  • Outdoor / marine
  • Visitor attractions

The £9 million COVID-19 Business Support and Continuity Tourism Fund package includes £6 million from the £375 million in business support. 

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon previously announced this funding and the £3 million repurposed from Phase 1 of the Tourism Recovery Programme.

Just How Much Money is Available?

The Scottish Government announced a further £7.5 million to support inbound tour operators who have previously received funding. 

Eligible businesses will receive a top-up payment of £6,800. This payment could offer your organisation a valuable business gateway to covering operational costs, investing in job creation, or even safeguarding the time needed to apply for other funding opportunities.

VisitScotland is committed to ensuring it’s as simple as possible for businesses, operators and event organisers to access the funding for which they are eligible, so it’s worth pursuing this one-off payment.

2. The Food and Drink Processing Grant

scottish government food and drink grant

The Food and Drink Processing Grant is a grant scheme available to food and drinks businesses in Scotland. Whether you are an independent producer or a customer-facing hospitality business, you could be eligible, and it’s worth applying.

This Scottish enterprise grant scheme contributes to the government’s overall vision for food and drink in Scotland to be a Good Food Nation. The concept is to produce, buy, serve and eat fresh, healthy food.

It allows you to apply for start-up business grants in Scotland if you’re a new food processing business or to apply for a one-off payment if you’re an existing food processing business. 

The funding can cover up to 50% of the costs of qualifying projects, including new equipment purchases, business expansion or relocation, and training expenses.

How can you use this Grant?

Specifically, the grant aims to fund eligible project costs for developing or creating food processing facilities, including buildings and equipment. Excitingly, it can also help you meet the goals in your business plan by supporting your non-capital projects too. You can get help to:

  • Market your products in home and export markets and attend national/international trade shows/fairs
  • Run co-operative ventures to retain more value by both farmers and growers
  • Improve supply-chain efficiency

It’s one of several single-year grant schemes designed to support small businesses in this sector; to be eligible, you must:

  1. Be located in Scotland
  2. Produce food and drink products
  3. Meet the Scottish Enterprise definition of a small business, which is a business with fewer than 250 employees

The food and drink sector can also help make Scotland healthier, wealthier and wiser, with stronger communities and socially and environmentally sustainable production.

3. EventScotland’s National Events Programme

tourism events funding programme

The National Events Programme, reopened by VisitScotland, is designed to deliver Scotland’s national events strategy (Scotland the Perfect Stage), bolster and support tourism and hospitality businesses, create jobs, and contribute to the broader recovery of tourism and events in Scotland.

The programme will support the development and delivery of live sporting and cultural events outside of Glasgow and Edinburgh to help drive domestic tourism and showcase Scotland as the ‘perfect stage’ for events. 

If you run an established hospitality company or a new business, this is the ideal opportunity to align your planning with some of Scotland’s most significant tourism initiatives.

What’s the Scope of the Funding?

Awards of between £2,000 and £4,000 are available for eligible organisers of community-focused events. Overall delivery budgets will be between £8,000 and £20,000 and will attract a minimum of 500 in-person attendees.

Larger-scale events that support the broader visitor economy and can demonstrate alignment with the national events strategy will apply for between £5,000 and £25,000. These events will have delivery budgets over £20,000 and will attract more than 1,000 in-person attendees.

On average, there are two funding deadlines annually for this award. 

Do you feel that your business could make effective links with other organisations? Can your company provide a range of relevant hospitality services? Or maybe your business has the potential to contribute to a strategic Scottish marketing initiative? 

This programme could be a fantastic opportunity for you!

Find out more about using Scotland funding to help market your tourism business.

4. Tourism Recovery Fund

visit scotland tourism recovery fund

From the smallest start-up to the most prominent organisation, COVID-19 has had a significant impact. Several schemes now exist to offer advice and support to companies and employees. Central amongst these various business grants in Scotland is a grant provided by the Tourism Recovery Fund.

What Does This Fund Focus on Providing?

With a focus on sustainability and selective regional assistance, this scheme aims to support tourism and events businesses by funding sustainability certification scheme providers. So, provided your business holds this certification, you could soon receive guidance and funding from this organisation. 

This level of funding, supported by the Scottish government’s commitment to sustainable tourism, enables businesses to think about developing their net-zero action plans and focus on carbon reduction activity. It also encourages zero waste schemes in association with Waste Scotland.

5. Coronavirus (COVID-19): Business Ventilation Fund

scottish government business ventilation fund

Last is a Scottish government-backed fund that aims to support small businesses in developing their facilities and services following the rapid spread of COVID-19. The Business Ventilation Fund is part of a grant scheme offering funding to help small and medium-sized businesses improve their ventilation and help reduce the spread of COVID-19.

How can I use this Award?

Businesses can claim up to £2,500 per eligible premises to recover the work costs to improve ventilation and air quality. This work could include:

  • installing carbon dioxide monitors
  • installation of new airflow systems
  • repairs to windows and vents
  • analysis and review of existing facilities

Support will initially target high-risk settings where people come into close contacts, such as restaurants, bars and gyms. The total funding package is worth £25 million, announced by the First Minister in September 2021

Conclusion

So there you have it; five small business grants in Scotland that you can benefit from, all available for hospitality businesses. Whilst not every grant the UK government offers is open all year round, they are excellent examples of regularly accessible funds and are excellent business gateway opportunities. 

Think there’s a fund here that suits your needs, but you’re not sure about the application process? Check out my post on getting tourism grants in Scotland. You will find more information on the benefit of applying and how this funding can boost your organisation.

Interested in learning more about how we can help you fill your calendar with DIRECT online bookings for 40+ weeks a year and make sure your customers become repeat customers?

Check out our Bookings Accelerator System, which has helped tourism or hospitality businesses across the UK fill their calendar with hundreds of thousands of pounds of DIRECT bookings at 0% commission.

business grants in scotland
5 FREE Ways to Use Scotland Funding to Market Your Tourism Business!

5 FREE Ways to Use Scotland Funding to Market Your Tourism Business!

Great Marketing for Tourism Businesses is Vital

We all know that great marketing is at the heart of a successful tourism business. Not every business has the expertise or money for an integrated and dynamic marketing strategy. 

If that sounds like you, then I’ve got good news for you! 

Scotland has a variety of funding programs available to give businesses in the tourism industry the financial support they need to get started, develop ongoing strategies, and plan future expansions and initiatives.

If you’re a tourism business thinking about developing your marketing, then identifying the right funding programmes is really important. After all, successful award funding leads to great marketing opportunities and gives you the investment you need to move your business forward.

We’re Here to Help…

At Straight Up Websites, we really want to see the Scottish tourism and hospitality industry flourish, and in this post, I’ll guide you through the ways that you can use Scotland funding to develop your tourism business and make the most of the funding you receive. 

I’ll also share some valuable industry strategies for ways that you can use great marketing to grow your tourism business and maximise your brand, market share and profitability.

Let’s get started.

1. What is Scotland Funding, and How Can it Be Used to Market Your Tourism Business for Free?

Scotland funding refers to a range of government-funded and privately financed organisations. These organisations offer financial assistance to new and established businesses in several sectors, including tourism and hospitality. 

You can use significant proportions of the funds on offer for marketing purposes or other costs associated with developing visitors’ products, services, or experiences.

These grants are available at various levels, from local government agencies to national ones like VisitScotland, which offer several funding options. 

Suppose you’re working on a collaborative tourism marketing campaign that focuses on growth in the tourism sector. In that case, your most appropriate option might be the VisitScotland Growth Fund, as this fund aims to encourage collaboration and partnerships to deliver tourism and hospitality marketing across Scotland.

Build a Bespoke Brand

This level of Scotland funding gives you the financial independence to build bespoke brands and marketing campaigns that ignite your business and encourage visitors to your venue, as well as others throughout the country.

 The Scottish Government also has several funds specifically for VisitScotland accredited businesses. One of them is the Scottish Enterprise Regional Selective Assistance Grant Scheme, a grants programme that offers up to £250k for investment projects.

 So, whether it’s upgrading your website, developing branding, or managing your booking system, there’s never been a better time to make use of Scotland funding!

2. Scotland Funding Opportunities and How to Apply

Scotland funding opportunities are widespread, and each has its criteria for applying. To help you narrow down the options that might be right for you, here are some links to three outstanding online resources:-

Grants Online

Grants Online is a hub that details a wide range of Scotland funding options and where you’ll find articles about grant opportunities across all sectors. You can also sign up for their regular newsletter, giving you access to all the latest application details.

Funding Scotland

Funding Scotland is another hub that brings together funding opportunities for charities, community groups and social enterprises in Scotland, many of which include organisations in the tourism sector. The site offers access to over 850 different funds at writing, so there are plenty to choose from!

The Scottish Tourism Alliance

The Scottish Tourism Alliance isn’t a fund provider but is the representative body of the Scottish tourism industry. It offers members in-depth and up-to-date news on the latest national strategies in the tourism and hospitality industry and has the mandate to support businesses like yours!

3. What are the Benefits of Using Scotland Funding to Market Your Tourism Business?

There are a few reasons why Scotland funding is so popular with people looking to market their tourism businesses: it’s free! 

This kind of project funding gives you an excellent opportunity to reinvigorate your market presence or take the time to invest in partnerships that help move your brand forwards. 

Scotland funding is also an excellent way for entrepreneurs to start marketing whilst keeping their upfront costs manageable.

 Once you’ve started to market your business more successfully, you can expect to see some of the following benefits:-

Increased Visibility for Your Business

Working with a set of integrated, bespoke and professionally maintained marketing tools such as a redeveloped website or refreshed branding can lead to greater visibility for your business.  This increased exposure can help you reach more potential customers and generate more sales. 

Drawing Strength from Marketing Partnerships 

Receiving funding to market your tourism business will inevitably require you to develop effective partnerships with other companies, suppliers, venues and marketing professionals. 

The way this fund supports projects to help you develop a network is precious, as not only can you draw on one another’s expertise and gain shared access to vital information,  you’ll also substantially increase the reach of your marketing.

 VisitScotland also provides training and resources to help businesses use their awards effectively and efficiently. 

Increased Business Growth in the Tourism Sector

Gaining access to Scotland funding can help you increase your sales. Firstly, the better your marketing, the more potential customers you’ll reach.

 Just as important, having the budget and freedom to work with marketing professionals means that the quality of your marketing is likely to increase significantly, saving time and money and making each opportunity for conversion far more successful.

Of course, the lasting benefit of using this kind of funding initiative to develop your marketing strategy is the knowledge and experience you’ll gain. Not only can you carry on applying the marketing principles and techniques you’ve created, but you’ll find it easier to access new funding for future marketing campaigns too.

4. How to Market your Tourism Business Using Scotland Funding

Once you’ve been successful with a grant programme and you’ve made the decision to invest some of that capital in marketing your tourism business more effectively, you’ll want to think about the next steps.

 What can you do to minimise project costs and ensure that you see a tangible return on your investment?

Here are five steps you can take immediately, to help you move forwards with a successful marketing strategy:-

Make Sure you Understand Your Customers.

Understanding what your customers want, what they’re willing to pay, where they come from and how they feel about you is a great place to start your marketing journey. 

It’s easy to make assumptions about what you think a client or visitor wants, but if you don’t ask them, then you might find that you’re missing a significant opportunity to improve your offer.

Gathering feedback via questionnaires, email contact, in person and even with a visitor’s book can help you see things from their perspective and pick up on what you’re doing well, as well as what you’re missing out on.

Importantly, you must make sure you have an ‘ideal’ customer in mind and work hard to refine your marketing (and your service) to reflect their needs.

Harness the Power of Reviews

It’s imperative to cultivate positive reviews for your business. 

In a recent study, Tourism Economics found that sites such as TripAdvisor were encouraging higher spending and more extended stays in the UK, with reviews playing an increasingly important factor in booking decisions.

You should ensure that your positive reviews are well-publicised and used as part of your more comprehensive marketing strategy. Working with a professional marketing team, you’ll be able to embed these reviews into your sites and social media automatically. 

You should make sure that you respond to any poorer reviews fairly and professionally and publicly resolve any issues.

Reviews also offer you a powerful tool for self-reflection as a business, a vital part of the marketing process.

Make Decisions About Your Brand

Moving forward on your marketing journey, it’s worth thinking deeply about your brand identity and whether what your business offers still reflects the branding you have in place. 

If it does, you’re going to need to amplify and celebrate that identity with new campaigns. Still, if not, you’ll need to develop new marketing approaches that better reflect your individuality, voice, image, service and ethos. 

This factor is where working with some marketing professionals within the tourism and hospitality sector can be so valuable, as they’ll be able to guide you through the process and make sure that you maximise your Scotland funding investment.

Remember to Share Your Journey 

Sharing your success on social media is a vital part of any marketing strategy and something you can do before your funding comes through. 

Keeping your brand in the mind of interested followers means you’re more likely to get repeat custom, develop the scope of your message and convey a level of energy and activity that will keep people engaged.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you need to have a series of special events to share, either. You can post daily about the journey your tourism business is on – anything from photos of your team painting a wall to a member of staff packaging mailouts can make engaging content.

As you build a following, your social media channels become a great place to publicise deals, events and opportunities, so don’t underestimate their value!

Remember your Website is a Powerful Tool

Regardless of the service or product your tourism business offers, your website is your online home and needs to set the tone for your brand. 

You should make sure that you optimise it across different platforms so that it’s user-friendly and structured to draw the visitor in and convert them from a visitor into a paying customer. 

Your website also needs to be SEO-rich to ensure that visitors can find you quickly and get the information they need immediately. It’s also your source for generating mailing lists, selling products and, just like you’re reading now, blogging about your business!

Getting this aspect of your business right is probably one of the most important things you can invest your Scotland funding awards into, both for short-term value and long-term growth.

5. How will Scotland Funding help you grow your Tourism Business?

With powerful and effective marketing, your tourism business will not only reach more potential customers and clients but is far more likely to connect with the right demographic

Using that funding to research your ideal customer or visitor, establishing an offer that attracts them and understanding what they expect from you can make a tremendous difference to your chances of success.

But it’s not just targeted marketing itself that will help you grow…

The process of researching funding opportunities compels businesses to develop new approaches to community engagement, expansion, infrastructure and ethos. 

By taking the time to understand how funds work and who and what the funds will support, you can plan your events, promotions, and products from an informed perspective.

That way, you can continue to build your business with confidence, knowing that your goals are supported by each fund provider’s commitment to secure Scotland’s place as a premier tourism location.

To find out more about getting tourism grants in Scotland, check out our detailed post here.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are many ways that Scotland funding can help your tourism business grow. You just need to do your research and find the right funding opportunity for you. 

Whether you’re planning to grow your digital marketing, establish your local reputation or simply build your bookings, using that funding to market your business couldn’t be more important!

Are you looking to improve your brand identity, enhance your online experience and most importantly can you handle more online bookings?

In that case, we’d love to hear from you. We’re excited to learn more about the challenges you face how we can support you to overcome them and become your go-to partner for all your travel website marketing in the future.

scotland funding
How to Get Tourism Grants in Scotland: 7 Essential Tips!

How to Get Tourism Grants in Scotland: 7 Essential Tips!

Getting Tourism Grants can be a Real Challenge

If you run a tourism and hospitality business in Scotland, then you’ll know just what an extraordinarily welcoming and exciting holiday location it is. But with subdued international visitor numbers combined with higher overheads, even businesses in prime locations can struggle to increase revenue and profitability.

One way to build a more secure foundation for your business is to apply for funding successfully. There are several grant opportunities open to companies and organisations in Scotland. While your business might not meet the requirements for each one, there’s almost certainly going to be funding opportunities out there designed to support and empower the Scottish tourism and hospitality sector.

Grant Resources at Your Fingertips

So, just how do you go about getting tourism grants in Scotland?

To get tourism grants in Scotland, you need to ensure that you thoroughly research the available funds and their relevant awarding timeframes, recognise your organisation’s offer concerning the demands of each fund, and understand how to navigate the complex administrative process successfully. 

This article’s valuable points will help you understand which grants are available and give you pointers for fund applications. You’ll also discover how you can use grants to promote the Scottish travel and tourism industry, build facilities and improve the success of your business.

About Tourism Grants in Scotland

Tourism plays a massive part in the Scottish economy, making it an important sector for the country and those working. Scottish tourism businesses that want to improve their facilities, build a strong brand and promote themselves abroad can often benefit from tourism grants offered by national agencies such as VisitScotland.

Tourism grants are available to help spread awareness of the Scottish hospitality industry worldwide; for example, your business can use them to facilitate and publicise events or initiatives.

It can draw visitors to your real-life and virtual sites and focus on retail products and travel packages that link with the theme or ethos fund. Grants are also available to facilities that want to improve their appearance or facilities, encouraging tourists to spend more time in some regions of Scotland.

Tourism is vital to Scotland’s economy, with 17.6 million visitors arriving in 2019. These numbers should rise as more tourists come to experience all that Scotland offers, including its vast green spaces and unique attractions.

 

tourism-grants-in-scotland

 

Tips for Applying for Tourism Grants in Scotland

As you work your way through applying for tourism grants in Scotland, it’s essential to make sure that you complete each step as accurately and as fully as you possibly can. The specifics of each grant application will differ, but there are some common areas of good practice that it’s wise to adhere to:

1. Follow instructions carefully

The funder will have specific guidelines on the details required for the application, so make sure that you read all the criteria thoroughly and plan your responses before you begin the formal process of writing the application. If your business or initiative isn’t immediately a good fit with the fund you are researching, then move on and find a more relevant one, making sure you take note of all the requirements.

2. Make sure that you include all relevant information

This information includes your organisation(s) experience or history, why you need a grant, how you plan on using the funds and what your organisation will do with any unused money. If gaps in your information or questions are left unanswered, your application will likely be unsuccessful.

3. Double check that all information included in the application is correct

Typos, factual errors, incorrect calculations and other mistakes could cause the funder to reject your application. Equally, make sure that your application reaches the funder before the deadline. It might be worth planning out a timetable for writing and checking your application to make sure you stay on track.

4. Include information from previous awards if applicable

Including information from previous awards shows a funder that you are serious about your application and will lead to them looking more favourably upon it. Seek to reassure that you have successfully met guidelines in the past, been a positive custodian of funds and that you have a developing vision for your Scottish tourism business.

5. Remember that funders want to know what impact they will have

How many people will you serve? How much money will you spend? What are the long-term goals of the organisation you are funding? What are the immediate plans? How will you measure success? 

Most importantly, of course, your funder will be looking to ensure that their goals and the goals of your business are aligned. You need to pick funds that are most likely to have relevance to your organisation (see below), and your initiatives should benefit your targeted people and locations.

6. Shop around for funding

Only one grant will rarely cover all your needs, so consider other sources of funds before submitting a grant application. Other potential funders include corporations, foundations and individual donors.

7. Follow up with contacts at the funder

The funder might be very busy, and your application could get buried under others, so it is always best to send a friendly reminder when they haven’t responded to you in several weeks. If you didn’t think it would be successful, you wouldn’t have made the application, so don’t be afraid to push the funder for feedback.

You can find more advice on writing funding applications here.

 

following up with scottish tourism funders

 

Working with the HIE and VisitScotland

Official agencies that offer funding via tourism grants in Scotland include the Highlands & Islands Enterprise (HIE) and VisitScotland. These are just two of the most prominent organisations that have made substantial contributions to tourism through their respective grant programs and should always be at the top of your funding research list.

The HIE manages a wide range of support for Scottish tourism and hospitality businesses, with grants related to restarting and recovery after COVID-19, post-Brexit operations, community programs and investment funds.

Similarly, VisitScotland offers tourism grants for various purposes, including developing new products, destination marketing and individual business plans. Still, it’s always worth double-checking which funding programs are active, as many have cyclical applications or close permanently after a short time. 

To be eligible for VisitScotland grants, applicants must meet specific basic requirements:

  • The organisation must have a precise aim to increase tourism in Scotland
  • The organisation must not be affiliated with any political party
  • The organisation must not receive public money from another body such as the national lottery or local council.

When applying for a VisitScotland grant, it’s always ideal to have a solid tourism marketing strategy in place. This strategy should contain your short and long-term objectives, product/marketing research, target market, product strategy, and other information that may be of value to the assessing panel.

Developing a viable business plan is essential to secure a VisitScotland grant. You should have both short-term and long-term goals clearly stated in this document. Your business plan should also detail the amount of money you will be investing in these projects and the type of activities you will take to achieve these objectives.

The following funds are three of the most popular and worth exploring:

Three Important Visit Scotland Funds

1. EventScotland Funding

VisitScotland has recently launched EventScotland, a new grants program that will help to boost Scotland’s events industry. This initiative aims to increase the number of events held in the country by £5 million annually across various categories.

From the National Events Funding Programme to Scotland’s Winter Festivals Funding award, there are several small funds under this umbrella that could be highly beneficial to your tourism and hospitality business.

2. Scotland’s Themed Years Funding

Scotland’s Themed Years Funding programme was established in 2009 and  regularly supports organisations contributing to nationally themed initiatives. These years now take place biennially, which gives organisations and businesses a great deal of scope for planning appropriate initiatives and developing successful applications. 

3. Visit Scotland Growth Fund

The VisitScotland Growth Fund helps businesses in the Scottish tourism industry who plan to work collaboratively on tourism marketing campaigns. In particular, if your joint initiative focuses on generating growth in the tourism and hospitality sector, then this might be the fund for you.

As well as a financial aspect, funding recipients also benefit from working with VisitScotland to develop digital capability and marketing opportunities and measure outputs and success more effectively.

 

marketing grants for tourism

 

COVID 19 Business Support and Continuity Tourism Fund

This fund offers financial assistance for small businesses that have been hurt by the global economic downturn, enabling them to get back on their feet more quickly. The fund will distribute grants up to £28.8 million to the tourism and events industry, with up to £9 million in grants earmarked for Scottish tourism and hospitality businesses who have suffered from the spread of the Omicron COVID variant.

The Scottish Government and the Scottish Tourism Emergency Response Group (STERG) has identified that businesses in the following sectors are eligible for top-up grants if other funds have already supported them:

  • coach operators
  • day tour operators
  • hostels
  • inbound tour operators
  • outdoor/marine
  • visitor attractions

So, whilst this last fund may not be focusing on new initiatives, it’s a valuable form of support for tourism grants in Scotland. Short-term, emergency relief funds and significant, long-term grant programmes each have a role to play, and both should be considered by Scottish businesses developing funding portfolios. 

 

marine grants for tourism

 

Conclusion

Whatever form your Scottish travel, tourism or hospitality business takes, understanding the funding opportunities and processes available to you is a vitally crucial operational element. Just remember the key steps:

  • Clarify the short and long-term vision for your business, ensure that your branding and marketing reflects that vision and seek out partnerships that will allow you to move forwards.
  • Identify funding opportunities that connect with your ambitions and align with your ethos – don’t try to re-shape your vision to fit funding criteria. Keep checking the availability of all applicable funds as they open and close independently of one another.
  • Complete your applications accurately, in detail and in good time, including as much evidence as you possibly can to reinforce your eligibility. Be ready to show how the grant will benefit and that you have a strategy to measure your award’s impact.

Suppose you’re looking to develop your business branding, increase your profile and invest in a valuable asset for your travel business that could generate 10X more online bookings. In that case, we’d love to hear from you. We’re excited to learn more about the challenges you face how we can support you to overcome them and become your go-to partner for all your travel website marketing in the future.

how-to-get-tourism-grants-in-scotland
Keeping Your Website Maintained: 4 Great Reasons Why it’s Essential

Keeping Your Website Maintained: 4 Great Reasons Why it’s Essential

Is it Absolutely Essential to Keep Your Website Maintained?

You’ve just invested in a great new website for your business. It’s been professionally designed and you is hosted with a recommended provider. It’s exactly the right online presence for your brand, company or organisation.

If you’re happy with your website but don’t understand the importance of regular maintenance, then this post is for you.

Why?

Sadly having a great-looking, secure and functioning website isn’t enough. In fact, it’s only the start. Keeping it great is what’s important. Here are 4 reasons why regularly maintaining your website is so important for you and your customers.

#1 Protect Yourself From Nasty Hackers

Although your site might have been secure when it was published, the chances are it isn’t secure now. Hackers prey on static or out-of-date websites as they present a great opportunity to steal data easily, and often without being noticed.

This is bad enough if your site is a personal one, but if it’s linked with your business then the data that can be accessed, the bandwidth that can be stolen or the viruses that can be uploaded have a significant effect not only for you, but your clients and partners too.

Using a Content Management System like WordPress gives you access to regular software patches and security updates. You should always take advantage of these and employ this level of protection. However it can be a huge commitment if you’re busy to remember every week to keep everything tidy on the backend, performing all of your updates and you may not know how to keep the site secure.

If your site comes with the option of a maintenance plan, we offer maintenance to any WordPress website at a great price, you’d be well-advised to make use of it. If you are targeted by hackers or your site does become vulnerable, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that it won’t be you forking out to remedy the problem…even better, this is highly unlikely if you are on a good maintenance plan and your site is being maintained every day.

#2 Keep Things Fresh and Well Optimised

Online businesses thrive on search engine results. Companies like Google specifically look for websites that are regularly updated and will rank these more highly in search results.

The more your site is updated with content, the more visitors you will get. If you can convert those visitors into customers and clients, then your website is doing its job and you’re getting a return on your investment.

Making sure that you don’t have duplicate pages, broken links, or out-of-date information is just as important as generating new content in this respect. Keep your site tidy as well as updated, and you’ll notice a real difference in your traffic which leads to more sales.

Regularly reviewing and re-defining your keywords and keyword phrases is another practical and highly valuable way of maintaining your site and its potential. Think of this as a way of keeping your site visible and easy to find.

#3 Don’t Risk Letting Your Brand Down

A website is key to the development of your business. Your staff and customers come to rely on it as a tool on many different levels. The last thing you need is for your site to malfunction, either in part or in its entirety.

A good website maintenance plan will also involve the creation of regular back-ups. Should the worst happen, your site and all the content data is fully recoverable, and your backup can be restored. Without a regular back-up plan, your business and one of its most important assets remain vulnerable.

The technical integrity of your site is important. Your company’s integrity is also important in the eyes of your partners and customers.

Value them both, and they will be of value to you, too.

#4 Don’t Let Your Website Become Stale

The technology that powers your website is evolving every day. Performance improvements are released every week, making your site more efficient, more engaging and more productive. Staying on top of these updates and optimising your site’s potential makes will make your website even more valuable.

Sites that take a long time to load are frustrating for the user and less likely to appear high in search results. The net result is that you will attract fewer visitors to your site and are less likely to keep those that do find you.

Staying up to date will fix both of these potential barriers to volumizing your site traffic and sales.

These tips are invaluable, but there’s an even more compelling reason to maintain and regularly update your website.

You want your visitors to keep coming back.

TOP TIP: Make sure that you don’t just maintain your website from a technical perspective. Keep the content fresh too, so that visitors and customers get used to seeing new posts or products whenever they visit.

It isn’t professional if your event calendars haven’t changed from month to month, or if you are leaving your blogs to stagnate. If you’re not adding new products or services, make sure you add comments, additional information, reviews, or articles that generate interest and new visitors.

Conclusion: Keeping Your Website Maintained Could be the Make or Break of Your Brand

Without that basic level of maintenance, potential customers probably won’t engage with your site, no matter how well designed, and the chances are that your sales will be affected.

Your business is continually innovating, evolving and updating – Your website should be too.

 
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Wix vs WordPress Which Should You Choose? (And Why!)

Wix vs WordPress Which Should You Choose? (And Why!)

Should You Use WordPress or Wix To Build Your Website?

A question I have been asked a lot.

WordPress and Wix are both platforms from which engaging, functional, and valuable websites can be built. However, they are very different pieces of software and each comes with advantages and limitations.

WordPress is a Content Management System, which means that it gives you the opportunity to control almost every aspect of your site’s appearance and functionality. It also gives your site scalability and the potential to be an extremely powerful tool. Admittedly it does demand a slightly higher degree of technical ability than Wix if you want to get the most from your site.

Alternatively, Wix is an online website builder. The difference here is that you can work ‘live’ on your site, dragging and dropping components and seeing very clearly the changes you’re making. Far less technical know-how is needed with a Wix site, making it great for a beginner.

The downside is, you are limited to the functionality of your chosen template and may not be able to get a high level of efficiency from a site you design yourself. You also don’t own any of the content that you upload to the Wix site and essentially don’t even own the website once it is built!!

If you’re thinking of building a website, one of your first decisions is to pick a platform. It’s important, as you’ll be investing time and money into your site and business. Whichever platform you pick, you’ll want to be sure that it’s the right one for you; today, and for the life of your site.

Here’s our handy guide to using WordPress or Wix to build your website.

Traffic and listings

Being discovered online is key to the success of your business.

The secret to being discovered lies in ranking highly with search engines and having a large number of other sites pointing their visitors towards your own. Inherently important in your choice of the platform are the opportunities that platform gives you to manage your keywords and phrases.

This process is known as SEO (Search Engine Optimization).

Wix sites typically offer a relatively limited set of SEO tools. You do have the ability to add some valuable title descriptions to your pages, and new SEO options are always being developed. However, your ability to define and manage the ways in which search engines view your site is ridiculously limited.

Alternatively, WordPress sites are extremely SEO-friendly and ready to be optimised as far as your budget will allow. You’ll need to understand these features and ensure that you use them accurately to maximise your visibility. However, it’s worth taking the extra time needed as the benefits are significant.

Research shows that, on average, WordPress sites get considerably more traffic than Wix sites and have a marginally higher number of top 10 rankings.

Hosting

Hosting simply refers to the provider you use to allow your content to be placed online. Usually a hosting company will rent you space on their servers for a regular payment.

Wix host your website, meaning that both the domain name and the space you take up online are under their control. This can be convenient until your site starts to run slowly, or you want to swap your domain name to a different host. At that point, there’s very little you can do about it.

WordPress works on a different model.

You can pick your own hosting packages and domains through any provider you choose. Then simply build your WordPress site, and you’ll own all the content. You have the freedom to switch hosting deals whenever you like, and you aren’t tied into one company for both hosting and domain.

Not only is this convenient, it gives you the chance to look around for a hosting company that offers a great deal and reliable customer support.

Flexibility

Wix only offers you the tools and apps that have been developed by their own team. Plus, you only get what you pay for, meaning you might need to make additional purchases to get the plug-ins you want.

The tools Wix offers are effective but limited by comparison to the scale and depth of those available on the WordPress platform.

Because WordPress is open-source, designers around the world contribute to its software development. As a result, there are a tremendous number of resources out there that you can use to customize and develop your site.

Your level of flexibility and choice when it comes to WordPress can’t be matched by Wix. You just have to know what to do with all that choice…

Ultimately, it’s important to do your research and to pick the platform that’s right for your level of ability, as well as your goals.

Want to build a site quickly and don’t mind that you have limited control over SEO, functionality and the way it is developed? Wix will do the job. Don’t forget you’ll be committed to Wix hosting, support and resources, and worst of all if your content disappears from the site, there ain’t nothing you can do to get it back! (I’ve heard this happen to someone before, and they never recovered it)

But if you’re looking to invest in a more flexible website, WordPress should be your platform of choice. It takes longer to master, but in the end, you’re in control of your site, it’s open source so you own all of your content, it’s a content management that will scale with your business as it grows, integrate nicely with extensions…the community are great and there is a library of free resources to support you along the way.

Don’t want to build your own website and want our team of experts to manage this all for you?

 

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