Taking an Australian friend on a trip to Oban and Fort William inspired one Edinburgh resident to launch a day tour business that has just signed its first deal with a five-star hotel.
Set up in 2016, Scotland Day Tours has entered into a partnership with the Radisson Collection Hotel on the Royal Mile, becoming one of its featured tour operators.
Owner, Grant Paterson, projects the number of tours he’ll organise this year will increase by over 60% on the back of the deal, which will see his services advertised directly to hotel residents.
The new work follows a website upgrade in April. Having taken advice from Business Gateway’s DigitalBoost programme, the 39-year-old redesigned www.scotlanddaytours.net and is now seeing an increase in website visits from his target market - North America.
With increased success online coupled with the hotel deal, excellent reviews on TripAdvisor, repeat business, and print advertising campaigns, Grant anticipates his turnover will increase significantly this year.
He said: “When the hotel approached me to discuss the possibility of becoming a tour partner I realise it was a great opportunity to get a direct route to visitors wanting to explore Scotland from the capital. My hope is that the partnership will generate increased weekly bookings and will be a good source of work during the traditionally quieter winter months.”
He added: “I first went to Business Gateway in 2015 and attended three start-up seminars, which made me realise I was on the right track with my idea. I then met with an adviser who helped me move the business forward. Earlier this year I undertook the DigitalBoost health check online and was offered 21 hours of support from a digital expert. My website is how I generate the majority of my business and I thought I was on the right track with it but, after speaking to the adviser, I realised I needed to invest in the site and migrate to a new server provider. That advice has helped me generate more clicks, visitors are now spending longer on my site and bookings are increasing.”
Susan Harkins, Business Gateway Edinburgh Manager, said: “Grant’s high level of service and excellent reviews helped him secure the partnership with the hotel, and our support not only gave him the confidence to get started it helped arm him with a greater understanding of his online presence. Implementing the DigitalBoost advice is now starting to bear fruit, and as we move into the busier summer months it should help him secure even more customers searching online for tours of Scotland.”
Developing a taste for the great outdoors, after taking a friend on a tour of Argyll and the Highlands, saw Grant arrange eight tours in 2016. This year he expects to undertake 45 and projects he’ll arrange 90 the following year.
He also hopes to work with language students, taking them on for summer placements in 2019, providing them with work experience while adding a new service that will attract more customers visiting from the Far East.
He said: “I’ve taken Canadians to see their ancestral castle and climbed mountains with clients - being able to showcase Scotland in all its glory is a real privilege. Although visitors from North America is my bread and butter, Scotland is seeing an ever-increasing number of visitors from the Far East. By taking on language students I can then offer a unique translation service and expand my target market.”
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