Standing out as a destination of first choice Sep 3 2019 | Jacqui Souter, Visit Scotland

Jacqui Souter, senior insight manager

Jacqui Souter, senior insight manager

The world is increasingly competitive in terms of possible tourism destinations. To the potential traveller, the choice can be quite overwhelming. How and where do they begin to build their awareness and then sift through all the options available? How do we, as destinations, get on to their radar in the first place?

There is much talk of people having a ‘bucket list’ for where they want to travel but ‘list’ suggests something quite logical and structured. For the majority of us, the inside of our head is just not like that and human beings are often highly illogical creatures.

If we think about our largest market first – people living in the UK; research shows that for most UK (non-Scotland) active travellers, Scotland is thought of as one homogenous region – we hear “I’m going up to Scotland,” or “I’ve been in Scotland”, whether they have been in the Scottish Borders or Caithness. Edinburgh and the Highlands tend to be the most likely areas within Scotland for people to name spontaneously. 

We know of course that Scotland is made up of many distinct and unique regions, but to a domestic visitor the 32 local authority boundaries are meaningless. If we consider this is the view of our own domestic UK audience, then the task to make international visitors aware of individual destinations within Scotland is even harder. 

Therefore, it is important to share experiences and stories from every corner of Scotland, creating strong selling points for Scotland and ultimately ensuring that every region benefits from increased visitor numbers and spend, better seasonal spread, and overall growth in the visitor economy.

Getting a destination into people’s heads is always the first step, but after that the likely reality of the destination for a visit can make or break a travel decision. Potential visitors will ask themselves:

  • “Can I get there easily?”
  • “Is it affordable?”
  • “Can I see myself there?”
  • “What will I do?”
  • “What will I eat?”


If there is any doubt in the visitor’s mind toward these questions, they can subsequently become blockers to that destination’s success.

For a destination to be successful, whether it’s Scotland, a particular region, or an individual town; it’s essential that everyone works together to ensure the product and experience matches what is promised by marketing.

If the experience matches or surpasses those expectations, then positive sentiment for the destination will be shared. We know that word of mouth from friends and family remains the strongest influencer around and is a powerful force to get inside people’s heads.

The Chamber and VisitAberdeenshire have been doing commendable work around creating ambassadors for Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire who can share their love for the region with others.

And we’re ‘ABZolutely’ sure that those efforts will pay off and help deliver new visitors who will fall in love with the North east.

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