PLEA FOR AN ONLINE REVOLUTION
DAVID MAGUIRE, chief executive of the Glasgow Restaurateurs’ Association, was withering about the opportunities he said VisitScotland has missed over recent years, particularly with its web presence. He said: “Online booking is what tourism is all about in the 21st century and, since day one, the online presence of VisitScotland has been catastrophically bad. It has been an embarrassment to operators and for visitors who can’t directly book, or are charged a £4 booking fee.”
Maguire, owner of the successful restaurant and events booking site 5pm.co.uk, said: “It was incredibly annoying as the owner of a company which has won every marketing award – including VisitScotland’s – that wecould not get a decision out of them about utilising the services wehad to offer.
“It astonished me. It made me think that the people who were making high level decisions were either simply not interested or they were very badly informed.”
“God knows how many tourist visits we’ve lost because the website has been so bad. Proper sites such as Lastminute.com and Late Rooms spent countless tens of millions getting it right. We tried to do it on the cheap and retain a significant measure of control at the same time. It should have been outsourced, as the Parliamentary reports eventually recommended.
“The pace of change in the whole organisation has always been glacial. No, that’s wrong – I’ve lived in Switzerland and glaciers move at least a little bit every year. Along with others in the industry, I always got the impression that VisitScotland took as long as possible to make decisions and everything was farmed out to committees and consultations.
“In the real world of commercial activity, the web presence would have been sorted out in six months. It still isn’t sorted. I would say to VisitScotland now, under its new regime: please don’t get involved in anything commercial. Restrict yourself to marketing Scotland on a global basis and don’t get snarled up in grading B&Bs.”