An Interview With: Visit Scotland Business Events

An Interview With: Visit Scotland Business Events

Here at Incentive and Motivation magazine we always want to know more about incentives, travel and the latest when it comes to motivating. We had hear

Here at Incentive and Motivation magazine we always want to know more about incentives, travel and the latest when it comes to motivating. We had heard about Theresa Ring, Market Manager – For the Midlands & North England at VisitScotland Business Events through some unusual avenues. First, everyone was talking about unique team building activities available in Scotland. It just seemed to be the thing. Then everyone was looking at Scotland as a key destination for business events. We get asked regularly for the hottest updates so we thought – let’s catch up with Theresa herself. 

What’s your background in incentive travel?

My background has always been in events, both in Britain and abroad. After completing an HND in hospitality management, I began my career at St Andrews Links where I managed the corporate golf days and private events. As well as this, I played an active role in the food and beverage management for The British Open and Dunhill Links Championships. After working in North Carolina, USA and Dubai, I returned to work for Gleneagles Hotel in the UK to manage in-house events, and later on to establish an events department at West Park Conference Centre in Dundee.

 

My events experience has led me to my career with VisitScotland Business Events in 2009, when I joined as Business Tourism Executive for the central region. In 2015, I became Market Manager for the Midlands & North England, working alongside my colleague Mihri Miralem, Market Manager for London & South England.

 

How has the incentive travel industry changed in the last 5 to 10 years?

The incentive travel industry is constantly evolving. Today is less about a hotel stay and more about a personalised experience as delegates seek exhilarating and memorable experiences in return for their hard work and brand loyalty. More businesses now recognise that by investing in their employees by offering them incentive based rewards, it consequently increases staff retention, morale and motivation, which ultimately boosts performance and drives business growth.

 

As well as this, people are more interested in well-being activities, so agencies and event planners are including more sustainable and healthy-living incentive options in their offering and packages. This has generated competition across the sector and has raised the bar in terms of the experiences available and delivered across the board. Fortunately for Scotland, its landscapes, cities and green spaces can deliver a wide variety of options for teams of all tastes.

 

Are you seeing a change in budgets, inclusion or parameters for incentive travel?

The pressure on budgets remains. However, and more interestingly, there has been a change in what constitutes luxury. It is now more defined by the quality of the experience rather than just exquisite venues. There is good news too on the volume of business incentive trips with the latest report in  Conference & Incentive Travel, July 2017,  showing that budgets and group sizes are growing year-on-year.

 

Why is Scotland such a growing market and are there any key reasons this has happened? Business Tourism continues to grow from strength to strength in Scotland, accounting for 20 per cent of all tourism spend. Northern England and the Midlands, an established market for VisitScotland Business Events, accounts for nearly 40 per cent of its total UK enquiries in 2016/17, in line with the London market for the first time.

Scotland’s easy accessibility from the rest of the UK is another reason behind its popularity as well as ease of access across the country once delegates are over the border. Only one hour north of Edinburgh or Glasgow leads into the Highlands, away from the hustle and bustle, which is extremely cost-effective for businesses.

 

What are your views on business vs pleasure during a trip away?

It is always great to mix business with pleasure from a business and employee retention perspective. Team building activities and away days are a fantastic way to build trust, mitigate conflict, increase collaboration and teamwork. Well organised activities keep teams talking about their experiences for months, even years. Being able to break away from the norm and experience a change in environment shows that businesses are prepared to invest in their staff, which they find extremely rewarding and motivational.

 

What about activities and excursions, how are these differing?

Scotland offers a superb range of activities including the Bear Grylls Survival Academy on a remote island off the West Coast; quad-biking in rural Perthshire; land yachting along the West Sands Beach in Fife; a blind folded 4×4 off-road team challenge in the Highlands or a mystery murder hunt in Glasgow. All of these diverse activities present delegates with the the right challenges to motivate them and help improve their communication skills.

 

For groups seeking something slower-paced, activities include stargazing in the Galloway Forest Park, foraging expeditions on the Rothiemurchus Estate in the Scottish Highlands, or getting competitve participating in traditional Highland Games. This wealth of pursuits encourages team members to work together, feel valued and provides them with an unforgettable experience with a unique Scottish twist.

 

Where do you see the future headed – does a ‘millennial workforce’ mean people need to think about travel incentives in a different way?

While working closely with agencies, we have noticed an increase in demand for outdoor and healthy-living options in relation to teambuilding and incentives, particulaly among the ‘millenial’ generation. There is a huge variety of outdoor spaces in Scotland, topped with remarkable landscapes, fascinating history and of course, the inimitable #ScotSpirit, all providing something new, different and inspiring for delegates.

 Theresa and Mihri are responsible for developing business events from the Midlands and North of England by working closely with third party agencies and corporate planners to generate MICE (Meetings, incentives, conferencing, exhibitions) enquiries for Scotland.

For Midlands & North England, contact Theresa at theresa.ring@visitscotland.com or +44 (0) 1334 466 004, or Mihri for London & South Engalnd at mihri.miralem@visitscotland.com or +44 (0) 7798 728 034 to explore ideas about how Scotland could be the perfect location for your next business event.

 

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