Tourism-specific workshops helped Megan Reid in various areas of her accommodation business.
Auchnascraw Mill’s story is certainly an inspirational one, especially for tourism businesses who sometimes find themselves at odds with their remote location. Set amongst the stunning surroundings of the Braes of Glenlivet, Moray, the 19th century building was once used for grinding oats, but is now enjoying a second lease of life. Today the property has been renovated into a two-bedroom luxury retreat that still captures all the charm of its original character.
Owner Megan Reid quickly realised that their remote location was at once a strength and weakness; fantastic views of the countryside, but very little passing trade! Megan knew that digital marketing could help tip the balance in Auchnascraw’s favour, stating: “If we weren’t online, we wouldn’t be in business. Nobody would find us.”
Embracing online booking systems from the start, Megan found that the majority of her customers came from abroad – a trend that begs the question, where would these bookings have gone had this functionality not been in place? Another benefit was that online bookings resulted in a steady stream of guests during both peak and off-peak seasons. Megan found that only about 1 in 10 guests are likely to get in touch to check availability or ask a question before booking online: “Nobody really gets in touch directly to book anymore. People book online without speaking to you.”
Workshops were another cornerstone of Auchnascraw’s success. Megan found that all too often, she simply didn’t have the time needed to cultivate an effective digital presence. Having heard about the workshops offered by DTS, Megan attended more than 10 different sessions. Not only did this help grow her confidence and skills, but having attended a number of generic workshops elsewhere, she really appreciated the tourism focus too. The networking aspect of the workshops is yet another upside; “It’s always a pleasure and a very useful experience to meet and hear from other tourism businesses.”
These workshops offered Megan crucial advice that she put into practice. One stand out lesson for Auchnascraw Mill was to focus on the digital platforms used by their customers. For them, this meant investing more in Facebook rather than diluting their efforts across multiple platforms. Google My Business and Google+ accounts both helped with search engine optimisation (SEO) and a DTS photography course gave Megan the practical skills needed to grow the property’s Instagram account.
Next steps for Megan are to improve and optimise her website, which includes moving bookings from a third party accommodation rental service to Auchnascraw Mill’s own website. Refining the business’ SEO and also getting a better grasp of how Google Analytics works in order to better understand customer behaviour are also on Megan’s ‘to do’ list. These may have once sounded overly-ambitious, but thanks to her experience in our workshops Megan feels much better equipped to handle these tasks.
Do the beginnings of Auchnascraw Mill’s digital journey sound familiar to you? Why not follow in Megan’s footsteps and find a workshop or event that will help get your digital marketing skills into shape? You’ll find a whole program of events that cover everything, from social media to SEO.
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