Ar­gyll tourism shake-up needed, says me­dia boss

The Oban Times - - Front Page - LOUISE GLEN lglen@oban­

AR­GYLL’S fore­most gov­ern­ment-backed and -funded tourism man­age­ment group has wasted £100,000 on pro­mo­tional videos, some of which have been watched just three times, ac­cord­ing to a pri­vate-sec­tor so­cial me­dia boss.

But Ar­gyll and the Isles Tourism Co-op­er­a­tive (AITC) says the films are ‘not for a lo­cal mar­ket’ and are keep­ing the cam­paign fresh by tar­get­ing them through­out the year.

Ma­rine Blast Me­dia – owned by Iain Hur­rel and Ca­tri­ona Craig – which runs a so­cial me­dia cam­paign to at­tract peo­ple to Ar­gyll and the Isles, set up an app so that peo­ple could log in and find out what was go­ing on in the area.

With con­tacts through­out the ma­rine tourism in­dus­try, it quickly built up a bank of fol­low­ers from across the world.

But the com­pany was shocked when, months later, AITC, a col­lec­tive of tourism op­er­a­tors in Ar­gyll and the Isles, brought out its own so­cial me­dia, paid for with gov­ern­ment fund­ing.

A spokesper­son for Ma­rine Blast Me­dia told The Oban Times: ‘The group are just not per­form­ing in a so­cial me­dia world.

‘For in­stance, last week I was look­ing up a video and, at the bot­tom of the page, videos paid for by the AITC to the tune of £100,000 came up.

‘I was sur­prised be­cause we are al­ways look­ing for con­tent for our Ar­gyll and the Isles app and so­cial me­dia. I then no­ticed that some of the films only had three views and had not been shared.

‘Now these films were sup­posed to be fin­ished last Oc­to­ber, and then it was Fe­bru­ary but for them to go up in mid July, when the tourist sea­son is in full swing, is just ridicu­lous.

‘The AITC have all the money, but none of the ex­per­tise to get peo­ple to en­gage with them. I can see that they em­ploy a man­ager, a per­son who deals with the me­dia, des­ti­na­tion man­agers for each of the ar­eas and a PR com­pany. Did not one sin­gle per­son think about a cam­paign to man­age the films?

‘A con­sul­tant was also ap­pointed to write a re­port cost­ing £26,000, paid for by gov­ern­ment agen­cies. I have asked for a copy of the re­port nu­mer­ous times but I still have not seen it. How can this be?

‘The blame is from the top man­age­ment and not from the per­son who deals with the so­cial me­dia.

‘There needs to be a com­plete shake-up of this in­dus­try in Ar­gyll and some­one needs to learn how to use and pro­mote so­cial me­dia prop­erly.

‘At the mo­ment, what we have is a dis­jointed dig­i­tal tourism net­work that doesn’t cre­ate any dig­i­tal growth.

‘To fix this we need to have a tourism dig­i­tal au­dit that iden­ti­fies ex­actly where we are now and what needs to be done to get it on track. This does not need grant fund­ing. It just needs ev­ery group to sign up to this and re­ally work to­gether.

‘The fact the AITC seem to have been ig­nor­ing statis­tics for years is not help­ing. We all want to in­crease tourism, so why are we not work­ing to­gether?’

In re­sponse to ques­tions about the money spent on the cam­paign, an AITC spokes­woman said: ‘Wild About Ar­gyll is a multi-level, multi-lay­ered year- long, £100,000 cam­paign, funded by VisitS­cot­land Growth Fund, Ar­gyll and Bute Coun­cil and AITC. It is pri­mar­ily dig­i­tal and is aimed at rais­ing aware­ness of Ar­gyll and the Isles, and po­si­tions it as Scot­land’s Ad­ven­ture Coast.

‘The cam­paign is tar­geted at a much younger mar­ket and is the first cam­paign for Ar­gyll rolled out in such a scale.

‘The group are us­ing celebrity cy­clist Mark Beau­mont and bands such as Sk­er­ryvore to mar­ket the Wild About Ar­gyll cam­paign.

‘Over three weeks (in­clud­ing Easter), cin­ema au­di­ences of 196,000 in the cen­tral belt viewed our Wild About Ar­gyll cin­ema trailer.

‘On­line, the main ed­its have been viewed by at least 460,000 peo­ple but more im­por­tantly more than 6,100 peo­ple have ac­tively en­gaged with the con­tent.’

The spokes­woman added that the cam­paign had al­ready reached one mil­lion peo­ple in the tar­get au­di­ence, and a dig­i­tal agency has been em­ployed to give ‘strate­gic ad­vice’.

She con­tin­ued: ‘ The dig­i­tal ac­tiv­ity that they are de­liv­er­ing is not vis­i­ble in Ar­gyll – it is not aimed at lo­cal res­i­dents.’

A re­port into the cam­paign will be pre­sented to mem­bers later in the year.

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