Neil Brownlee speaking image_website

The business events industry is currently witnessing a significant shift in terms of both the strategic rationale for the pursuit of business events and the communication of its value.

Traditionally, value has been measured by delegate and organiser spend within the destination.

However, recent thinking focuses even more on showcasing national or local credentials in key economic sectors.  In truth, this has always been a key thrust of the associations world for destinations at a city, regional and national level.  What we want to focus on is the value, or legacy, derived from the event itself over the following months and years for attendees, organisers and host destinations.

Scotland has been at the forefront of these developments for a long time.

In the last few years we have seen the launch of both INNOVATETHENATION - Scotland’s National Ambassador Network showcasing Scotland’s academic and sectoral credentials beyond Scotland and the UK - as well as the award-winning LEGENDS campaign which was created to give one voice to showcase the country’s innovative spirit, pioneering ambition and bold outlook.

To maintain our leadership momentum, VisitScotland Business Events is poised to continue moving from a traditional tourism model i.e. the pursuit of business events for spend as solely part of the visitor economy, to a policy driven model which will align the national business events remit with Scotland’s national ambitions and strengths – and not just at sector level.

The goal is to have fully implemented this new policy driven model by the end of 2020.

This new requirement shifts focus from traditional tourism messaging of business events towards new primary outcomes of policy and sector alignment. This includes the international positioning of Scotland’s cities, regions and the nation on a global stage; the general role of business events as catalysts for economic and social change; and exploration of the legacy and outcomes of business events.

We aim to do this certainly without losing sight of the visitor economy benefits of spend or Scotland’s unique combination of stunning venues, landscapes, heritage and culture.  We remain committed to the corporate and incentive markets which drive so much high-end spend into our regions and smaller venues in particular. However, we need the higher-level strategy of the policy driven model to evolve, and so that we continue to be a specialist entity for business events within Scotland’s government sector.  It will be a balance of everything that makes us an aspirational destination with a global outlook and engagement plan.

A key pillar of our activity will be to develop a new brand leadership strategy.

While Scotland has long been viewed as a leader in the market, pressures from existing and emerging destinations means we need to continue evolving our message. With the Legends campaign coming towards the end of its two year lifespan, we fully intend to keep up momentum and look to the next stage of our leadership communications.

Some of the ingredients of our developing strategy will include: continued influencer engagement; thought leadership; being seen as agents of change; rich storytelling; sharing knowledge; and continued pride in our culture and heritage.

The attitudes of buyers, stakeholders and influencers in our industry evolve and change and we need to constantly look at what defines Scotland as a brand leader to remain at the forefront of destination leadership in business events. Moving towards a wider policy model without losing our distinctive brand in the market will make sure we continue enjoying the success Scotland deserves.