Glasgow: Bonny on the Clyde

Glasgow City Marketing Bureau's Scott Taylor talks to Ben Lerwill about the city's plans for new developments to cement its position as a vibrant, modern global destination.

Scott Taylor graduated from Strathclyde University in 1984, going on to work in the marketing and hospitality industries. His experience includes brand management for two of Forte Hotels' brands and time as general manager of three city centre hotels. He joined Greater Glasgow and Clyde Valley Tourist Board in 1998 as director (convention bureau), and subsequently became director of marketing.

He took over as acting chief executive in July 2004, leading to the integration of the tourist board into the new Visit Scotland structure and the founding of Glasgow City Marketing Bureau (GCMB), where he is now chief executive. He is also a council director of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce and an external examiner for Paisley University.

- How is the GCMB currently promoting Glasgow as a C&I destination?

We're midway through a year-long £1m campaign and we also launched an advertising campaign last month. Both aim to reinforce the key messages about the city, particularly in relation to new developments. It's about raising awareness of what's on offer and what's going to have an impact in the marketplace in the coming months. We're keeping the 'Scotland with Style' brand ethos as strong as possible, and it's the consistency of the brand that constantly helps differentiate us. We're also about to launch a ten-year economic strategy for the city, and a tourism strategy for the same period. It's all geared towards continuing the reposition of Glasgow in the global marketplace.

- How successful has the campaign been so far?

It's an incredibly competitive sector, but we've seen continuing growth. The hotel statistics that are available confirm that in July, Glasgow once again outperformed all other UK cities in terms of occupancy growth - yield was up 23 per cent on last year, even following the terrorism incident at the airport. So the campaign is having a significant impact.

- Are there many new venues on the way?

Absolutely. At the moment we're looking at 2,400 new rooms being built over the next three to four years, some of which are already under way. And the hotels here are huge. We already have Scotland's largest hotel, and Holiday Inn is now building a 608-room complex, right in the centre, to top that. We've also got a new five-star opening next year from the Town House Company, which already has properties in Edinburgh. There's significant demand for high-end accommodation.

In terms of recent openings, the Glasgow Science Centre has a new 400-seat, state-of-the-art atrium with Imax technology. It's a jaw-dropping presentation platform, really outside the standard paradigm. We've also got a 12,000-seat arena scheduled to open in 2011 adjacent to the SECC.

- Is access improving too?

Yes. In the past few years, there have been 30 new direct flights to the city into both Glasgow International and Glasgow Prestwick. We've also just launched a third airport on the River Clyde - we're the first city in the UK to have a seaplane airport on the river. They'll be landing daily. Because of the sheer number of corporate guests we have there'll be a real demand - you can fly around the lochs or up to Skye and then back again. It's perfectly geared for the incentive market. Accessibility is really driving the numbers of C&I visitors.

- How important is the sector?

Hugely. We're seeing about 1,000 conference delegates a night. We've successfully hosted big events for clients such as UEFA and Vodafone recently, and the working relationship we have with agencies is critical. Ensuring the industry gets a fair and transparent deal is very important. We provide a free service to agencies - we want to protect their revenue streams, not cut them out.Our job is to save them time and make their job easier. We also publish all the hotel telephone numbers and sales manager details on our website (www.seeglasgow.com) so agencies can go direct. There's a significant benefit from holding an event here - we're a serious business destination.

DIRECTORY - GLASGOW
Glasgow City Marketing Bureau
Contact: 0141 566 0812
Email: conventions@seeglasgow.com
Telephone number: www.seeglasgow.com

ITINERARY - 24 HOURS IN EMPIRE'S SECOND CITY

10.00: After a traditional Scottish breakfast of porridge and kippers, take a guided tour of the city. Glasgow boasts some of the best-preserved Victorian architecture in Britain, and the high facades of the central streets create an impressive backdrop against which to learn more about its urban heritage.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh's iconic Art Nouveau designs also feature heavily and there are some notable museums, showcasing everything from classic steam locomotives to artworks by Dali, Blake and Degas.

Glasgow was at one point the 'second city of the Empire', and the sights - ranging from a medieval cathedral to uber-chic new constructions - illustrate its sense of constant reinvention.

12.30: Work up an appetite for lunch with a whisky-tasting session. A number of distilleries can arrange customised events for delegates to sample the 'water of life' under expert tutelage, rounded off with a personalised bottle as a memento.

Head afterwards to The Buttery, Glasgow's oldest restaurant, for authentic fine dining in oak-panelled surrounds. Its private suite, The Buttery Below, can be hired for up to 30 people.

14.30: Make the most of the city's stunning natural surroundings with a short, panoramic seaplane ride from the bustle of the River Clyde up to serene Loch Lomond - Glasgow follows in the footsteps of cities such as Vancouver, Seattle and Dubai with this recent innovation.

Once there, delegates can enjoy a leisurely cruise on the loch, taking in the Arklet Waterfalls and Rob Roy's cave, and learn about ancient clan feuds. For peace and quiet in style, the setting takes some beating.

18.30: After a bit of time to make the most of Glasgow's upmarket shopping options (Buchanan Street these days shares retail accolades with the likes of Fifth Avenue and Bond Street), convene for a pre-dinner drinks reception at the cutting-edge Glasgow Science Centre. Located in a plum spot on the riverside, it offers spectacular views of the cityscape.

20.00: Round off the day in memorable fashion with a gala dinner at the refurbished Kelvingrove Art Museum and Gallery, a picturesque city landmark. Scottish gala dinners with all the trimmings are the stuff of industry legend, and the event can be given a colourful north-of-the-border twist with live music and a traditional ceilidh.

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