Situated on a hillside overlooking the ferry port to the Western Isles in the north of the Isle of Skye, Billy and Anne Harley’s 18-bedroom Uig Hotel is no stranger to international visitors. Their objective is to make the most of the opportunities afforded by overseas visitors, who account for 60% of the business, accessing the c.200,000 passengers who sail to and from the Western Isles from the terminal, just over a mile away.
Since taking over the hotel in 2013, Billy and Anne have seen turnover double, and now have an ambitious 3-year plan to achieve a further 50% increase. In such a remote, fragile area, this thriving business is a vital contributor to the local economy - and HIE have provided practical support to help the business grow and flourish.
The business’s involvement with HIE has resulted in a transformation in both operation and profits, based on the development of an international marketing plan. In addition to providing local market data and assistance with redevelopment, HIE has conducted a digital health check to analyse how the hotel is portrayed online, and suggest marketing platforms and strategies for future activity.
The Uig Hotel has seen a direct impact on business, with the number of bookings increasing. Most significantly, the hotel has sufficient business coming in to open all year round. “The results have been far greater and far better than we ever thought they were going to be,” Billy says.
If other businesses out there are looking to develop their international presence, I would definitely recommend getting in touch with HIE. Our Export Adviser is still looking out for things that would be relevant to us.