The Lovat Loch Ness - Caroline Gregory
“When you go on international visits, you realise that visitors are so enthusiastic– they love Scotland, its culture, its landscapes, its food, its people - and I think, how can I up my game and get this business into my hotel?”
Caroline Gregory from The Lovat Loch Ness shares her experience of stepping into international markets.
About the business
Caroline Gregory has been the owner and manager of The Lovat Loch Ness for the past 14 years. With a full-time staff of 22 rising to 38 in high season, the hotel has 28 bedrooms and is the only 4-star, 3-rosette hotel on Loch Ness.
How did you take The Lovat Loch Ness into the international arena?
With core markets in the UK, US, Germany and France, Caroline took advice from HIE who signposted her to funding and support available, including VisitScotland’s business development missions. Caroline applied for a Go Global grant, which covers up to 50% of the costs of attending overseas missions and market events.
“Going on overseas business development missions to meet agents has been an inspirational and enlightening experience and helped raise our business’ profile,” says Caroline.
“It has made me realise that the best way to attract overseas business is to make a strong personal impression – so that when agents make the decision to bring visitors to Scotland, your business is the one they remember.”
While the business obviously benefits from increased international trade, the missions also create valuable staff training and development opportunities. Caroline’s Assistant Manager has attended an overseas event, which has been a great way for him to make his own networking opportunities and boost personal confidence and performance.
How has HIE supported your business?
“The Go Global grant from HIE has been very useful in offsetting the costs of international visits, and the support both in Scotland and in overseas countries has been invaluable. And attending events overseas has put a lot of like-minded businesses in touch with each other creating opportunities for mutual support back on home turf.
Any stumbling blocks?
Aside from pricing – always a headache for a premium-class hotel – Caroline found the form filling-in the biggest challenge, although having to outline a development strategy did focus her on the goals and objectives of the business.
What’s your top tip for businesses thinking about exploring international opportunities?
“To ignore overseas markets makes no business sense, and proactivity is the key to a strong business future. Go out to the countries that interest you and build confidence in your brand. The only way that happens is for them to believe in you. What we’re doing is not rocket science. It’s what every business should be doing.”