Argyll tourism shake-up needed, says media boss
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.