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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Interview: My Time at VisitScotland

In August we say farewell to Amanda Ferguson, Senior Marketing Manger - UK & Europe after 10 years at VisitScotland. Read on to hear more from Amanda on her time in VisitScotland's Business Events team and what's next!  


My time at VisitScotland...

I originally started at VisitScotland in August 2007 when I joined the Business Tourism Unit as European Marketing Manager.  It was a post I’d long coveted after working at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre.  I’d studied International Business & Languages at Heriot Watt University and my long term ambition had always been to use my language skills actively in the global market.  It’s a huge post covering our key priority markets in Europe – Germany, Switzerland & Austria, France and Spain.  It’s fair to say it took several years before I really felt I’d mastered the role!


After five years, opportunity knocked to take on responsibility for the UK MICE market within the team – an additional challenge which I have really relished.  This market represents 75% of the business events market in Scotland and as such is a key target market for all Scottish partners.  My knowledge of the Scottish MICE product has flourished working in this market.


What's next?

I am moving over to Marketing Edinburgh where I will head up Business Tourism for the city.  Whilst I am sad to be leaving the team at VS – they are like family to me - I am greatly looking forward to the new challenge.  Promoting Scotland for the last 10 years has been a genuine privilege and this move is the ideal opportunity to build on that knowledge and apply it to a city I am passionate about and believe in.

Industry insight...

It has been great to see the Scottish tourism sector in its entirety really thrive in recent years.  Not only does the Scottish Government recognise tourism as a key economic sector, leading global brands also see the growth potential of Scotland as a destination.  Just look at the investment in new hotels and airline route development in recent years and still planned.  Ultimately this results in more jobs. 

Where the MICE sector differentiates itself from leisure tourism is that it also showcases Scotland’s economic credentials in other fields which then resonates with Scotland’s inward investment messaging and ambitions. By hosting conferences and meetings in renewables; fintech; gene technology; informatics and marine science for example, we attract in thought-leaders and influencers from across the world.  The knowledge exchange and networking that takes place at these events is not to be underestimated – it can be the start of an inward investment journey and ultimately future jobs in Scotland.  There is a great sense of satisfaction in knowing the role we play in this.

Favourite moment from the last 10 years at VisitScotland...

It would have to be delivering the M&I Forum in Edinburgh in summer 2015! This event brought in 350 event planners from across Europe into Scotland for four days of workshop, networking and Scottish hospitality.  This was the result of two years’ work, firstly lobbying VS and the Scottish industry to get behind the event, and secondly persuading everyone to maximise the opportunity to showcase Scotland in terms of delivery.  The Team Scotland approach saw a quarter of all buyers exploring Scotland on fam trips and press visiting from all our key markets.  In terms of brand awareness, positioning Scotland as a leading destination for MICE groups and selling to this discerning market, this event will take some beating in my mind. 

Favourite place in Scotland...

Trick question – of course everywhere in Scotland is my favourite!  I have had the honour of experiencing some incredible places, staying in exclusive venues and trying my hand at activities normally reserved for the very privileged.   Quite genuinely, I love so many places in Scotland, it is hard to select just one. If however you really insisted on a favourite, I’ll concede there is one that nudges ahead.   There’s an old hunting lodge on the Balmoral Estate in Royal Deeside which my family has rented over the last few years.  Queen Victoria herself used to stay there each year.  It’s a mile from the road end, in the shadow of Lochnagar. It’s self-catered with limited central heating and no TV or mobile reception.  There have been many a raucous evening enjoyed there with a fire roaring up the chimney after full on days walking dogs, running in the hills and switching off from the outside world.  I’d move there in a breath!

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