Making the Homecoming Work for You and your Visitors

Catherine Bowie is one of the St Andrews Skills Academy’s approved training providers (CBTS), and in this article she blogs for us about Homecoming and how to make the most of the opportunities presented. Thank you Catherine!

For the Homecoming to be a success, it is vital that we offer as much information as is possible on our area, and give visitors practical tips so that we can ensure that each of the Homecoming tourists receives a real Scottish welcome and goes home raving about what Scotland has to offer. Rarely are we given this opportunity and the spotlight of the world will be on us – are we prepared?

Firstly, consider the kind of visitors which the Homecoming will attract and their profile – ancestral visitors come to Scotland with different expectations; however it should be noted that they tend to be well informed, expect extremely detailed information and are able to talk a great deal about their family history and their discoveries!

One of the most important aspects of their research is visiting places where they have a connection and this could be as simple as a castle or a visitor attraction but they may require information on the local family history society, graveyards or facts on industrial heritage. Here is the opportunity to make a difference. Many of our visitors will be very value conscious so it’s all about offering information on things that represent added value to their visit.

Learn about cultural differences.  Here are useful links to the Visit Britain site offering insight on some of the prospective homecoming markets:

USA

Canada

Australia

New Zealand

South Africa

Other countries

These are very useful resources, detailing tips on how to offer these visitors the kind of service they expect, and ideas for subtle nuances which can really make you stand out in your service offerings.

Secondly, Homecoming visitors will expect a warm Scottish welcome – many ancestral visitors come to Scotland to seek a connection so it is essential that we bring out warmth and build rapport immediately so that they feel at home. Many visitors do not like to be classified as tourists – they want to feel more as if they are coming home.

Many Homecoming visitors have preconceived ideas about what Scotland has to offer and they appreciate the traditional approaches in tourism & hospitality even if we don’t perceive them to be mainstream. You need to respect these wishes as these are often what create the best memories. Find out where great afternoon tea or authentic fish and chips are being served, and where ceilidhs, Highland Games, golf tournaments, Scottish theatre, local art and crafts exhibitions etc are being held; be pro-active about promoting such events.

Engage with your visitors professionally and ensure that you and your staff are positive about your area and Scotland and all that it can offer. It is easy to allow current affairs to cast a shadow on our mood, however this is not attractive to our visitors; they are seeking to connect with vibrant and dynamic people.

Stay up to date with what’s going on in your area and create a file with important visitor services information. Find out about events and keep useful information such as local church times, contact details for key people, menus from local restaurants and (of course) an up-to date events listing for what’s on in your area. Find out where the local family history society is and where other documents are held. Ancestral visitors really appreciate access to a computer as so much of their research is conducted this way.
Stick to these tips and not only enhance the visitor experience look professional but also act as a great advertisement for Scotland!

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