OPEN FOR BUSINESS TOOLKIT
As we prepare our recovery, we must recognise that we are now operating in a new tourism landscape. We must put the South of Scotland in front of consumers ready to travel but yet undecided about where to go and ensure that the South of Scotland is seen as a must visit destination that can offer a safe and rewarding holiday experience.
There has been a lot of information coming out over recent months but as we get ready to open for business it remains important that you are aware of the latest COVID Guidance. This is available from the Scottish Government. Being in the south of Scotland it is also important that you know of any differences in restrictions and timings in England so you can advise any customers, as relevant.
VisitScotland will provide this updated information to SSDA on a Monday each week.
If you are not listed, please get in touch with your industry relationship manager at VisitScotland.
National tourism advice can be accessed from VisitScotland, and the Scottish Tourism Alliance also provides a useful source of support and information. Make sure you are signed up to both their e-newsletters to receive updates and where possible follow them on social media for the latest announcements.
Further useful sources of information including guidance on cleaning protocols for tourism, hospitality and retail businesses include:
We all look forward to welcoming customers back; it has been a while, and we have missed them. Their outlooks may be different from when they last visited. Research company 56 Degree Insight has been monitoring the views of Scots about holidays and leisure during the pandemic and producing a series of Scottish Tourism Index reports, which track and provide useful insight into tourism intentions that you may find of interest. It may be worth re-focusing or diversifying some of your offer to adapt to other markets as we get ready to welcome domestic visitors in the first instance. It will take a while for international visitors to fully return so give thought to what the impact might be on your business.
Visitors are keen to know that businesses are safe and ready to welcome them and will be browsing online as they plan a trip. If your website is not up to date or ambiguous in what you are offering or the safety protocols that are in place then you may lose out on business.
Hope is not a strategy, you must be proactive and provide accurate information. The South of Scotland Destination Alliance have also created a specific South of Scotland Visitor Charter for you as businesses to also use and share. Alternatively there is a downloadable PDF version here.
There are three key steps to this:
1. Let visitors know you’re good to go
Make sure you have completed the national self-certification scheme We’re Good to Go and display the logo clearly on your website. If you have a business listing on visitscotland.com tick the box provided to confirm this to visitors and also state if you are open. Should you require assistance with this please contact your local Industry Development Manager at VisitScotland:
Scottish Borders – Helene Sinclair – firstname.lastname@example.org
Dumfries & Galloway – Ian Tunaley – email@example.com
2. Let visitors know what to expect
Update your own website and any business listing descriptions to provide accurate COVID specific information and highlight what COVID-safe measures you’ve put in place. Consider the following:
- Revised opening hours, if applicable
- Short summary of safety measures that visitors need to be aware of, such as physical distancing, mask-wearing, hand sanitiser provided
- Information about changes to the offering for visitors, e.g. take-away menu available, toilets open/closed, outdoor food and drink area, parking facilities, accessibility changes, spa closed, function suite currently unavailable
- Additional information for visitors such as advance booking requirements, any limits on visitor numbers, local public transport changes
- Communicate your preferential payment method. If you have decided to go or stay cashless, please share this communication with your customers.
3. Let visitors know you’re open
When your business reopens make it clear on your website, on Google and on all business listings. If you are listed on visitscotland.com tick the ‘We are open’ box so that they can promote you, and visitors will know they can book with you.
Further details on how to update your listing on VisitScotland are here.
VisitScotland are already undertaking marketing campaigns to attract visitors and will be driving traffic to their site, so if you have not already got a FREE listing on their site then please do so.
Think about how you display the information you are giving customers. Make sure they are made to feel welcome and not bombarded by too much information making it difficult to navigate your website. Be clear and concise in what you communicate.
Don’t forget to update your website and listings if circumstances change.
You are no doubt already organised, but make sure you have what you need to allow you to open. This could be supplies of face masks, sufficient cleaning products, new menus, uniforms, additional signage or physical barriers etc. It could also be your everyday supplies to run your business. Remember that some suppliers may not be operating at full capacity just yet, so think ahead not only now, but over the coming months.
Things to consider and implement before opening include the following:
- Review your layouts taking all guidelines on physical distancing and capacity into account. Organise signage and markings appropriate to the space, consider ventilation, introduce one way systems and queue management and other mitigating measures as required. Consider the needs of people with disabilities
- Cleanliness and hygiene are always important but are now vital when offering a service. Encourage customers to use contactless payment where possible and consider other ways to reduce communal hand contact surfaces. Consider how toilets can be used safely and within guidance. Develop and implement cleaning schedules for all areas of the business appropriate to the guidelines
- The safety of your own team is important so you must take them into account as part of your overall risk assessment
Ensure all staff are involved in the process of welcoming visitors back and fully briefed for opening and for any subsequent changes to Government tourism and hospitality sector – it should be a joint effort between employers and employees.
Remember in this day of social media, reviews matter, so make sure you have everything in place to safely welcome back visitors to the south of Scotland.
SOUTH OF SCOTLAND LOVES LOCAL
Your customers will look to you for what is happening locally. They will want to know what is open, some top tips of what is good, and what is delicious! Think local, promote tourism businesses and food and drink suppliers nearby to you. Stay up to date with who is open, what they are offering. This is a time for collaboration, not competition. Work together and promote each other – follow each other on social media to help raise awareness of what is happening. A list of businesses that have opened in the south of Scotland can be found here.
Also make sure you are aware of what is happening on local public transport – it may have an impact for visitors reaching you or getting about whilst in the south of Scotland. Check the latest on services with local operators and Traveline Scotland.
As we look to restrictions being eased and tourism reopening, VisitScotland has come together with organisations across Scotland to develop a Scotland-wide approach to visitor management.
VisitScotland want to work with businesses, destinations and communities to ensure that visitors and locals can have a fantastic experience as/when tourism starts to rebuild itself. We need you to help spread the message and share content with your visitors and in your communities, helping them to enjoy the outdoors responsibly. The more we talk about it; the more people will hear about it.
There are many tools available for you to take inspiration from and be part of the activity. There are films, images, content and more – available for you to communicate widely across your social and marketing. You can start by using #RespectProtectEnjoy across your social media channels. Visit the Visitor Guide for Businesses and help do your bit for responsible tourism in the south of Scotland.
SKILLS, TRAINING AND TECHNOLOGY
There is no doubt that it has been a challenging time. Businesses have often had to adapt to survive and technological changes can sometimes be daunting. Practical advice for managing your online activity is available here from VisitScotland.
The Prep Starts Now campaign, supported by VisitScotland, gives hospitality businesses access to many of the digital tools and services they need to reopen successfully during each post-lockdown stage, with partners offering free use of their services or significant discounts.
The Traveltech Directory is designed to help tourism businesses with inspiration and ideas, as well as recommendations and solutions. It looks at how different technologies can help tourism businesses in Scotland adapt and diversify in a post-COVID world. It includes case studies to inspire you and a list of companies that offer technology solutions, many of them based in Scotland, but also from further afield. The companies offer solutions for anything from online ticketing and creating podcasts, to app development and social distancing solutions.
Remember and check in on what training courses and webinars are available for those in tourism. A list of courses can be found from VisitScotland and the South of Scotland Destination Alliance as well as a variety of business training events with Business Gateway.
SOUTH OF SCOTLAND DESTINATION ALLIANCE
Keep up to date with all that is happening in tourism through the South of Scotland Destination Alliance.
We are here to support you as the Destination Management and Marketing Organisation of the South. Please ensure you:
- Signup to our SSDA newsletter
- Check our events and news pages for opportunities on ssdalliance.com
- Follow us on social media:
- Get in touch with our team and join the SSDA as a member.
Let’s work together, get tourism ready to help the tourism recovery and welcome back our visitors.
Scotland Starts Here!