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Rural Sutherland hotel steps up use of digital in move to year-round trade

Published: 20/01/2020

A hotel in a remote part of north west Sutherland is enhancing its online marketing and booking systems as part of wider efforts to move to year-round trade and employment.

Tanja Lister of Kylesku Hotel, credit Peter Jolly

Kylesku Hotel was awarded up to £16,500 by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) towards the cost of developing its digital systems.

The project follows an HIE-sponsored social media training and effectiveness workshop, which identified weaknesses in the hotel’s online presence.

This is being developed to build a robust brand and presence across all media, to accurately reflect the special nature of the hotel’s location and service.

It will also be used to attract the right quality of staff, which could become more challenging as the UK leaves the European Union.

Moving to year-round trade is expected to increase the business’s turnover by an estimated £128,000 after three years, as well as create at least one new post and retain two.

Claire Wilson, business development account manager with HIE in Sutherland, said:

“Kylesku Hotel has gone from strength to strength since the current owners took it over ten years ago. It is an important contributor to the region’s tourism and food and drink sectors. The hotel is on the North Coast 500 route and well placed to grow its offering and customer base.

“Strengthening their use of digital and online presence will help the business remain competitive and extend to year-round opening, while also attracting good candidates when vacancies arise. All of this is good for the business, for the local economy and for community resilience. I am very pleased we are able to support this project and look forward to continuing to work with the management at Kylesku Hotel on their plans for further growth.”

Kylesku Hotel is an old coaching inn dating back to 1680 on the shores of Loch Glencoul and Loch Glendhu. It was taken over by Tanja Lister and Sonia Virechauveix in 2009 who have since received a ‘Scottish Hoteliers of the Year’ award and a Thistle Award for ‘Most Hospitable Hotel’ in Scotland. Employee numbers doubled from 11 to 22, making it a major employer in rural West Sutherland.

Tanja List of Kylesku Hotel, said:

“This latest support from HIE has allowed us to create a high-quality new website and branding. This in turn, enables us to focus on attracting the best staff, tempt our guests to stay for longer and indeed come and explore what this spectacular corner of Sutherland has to offer at all times of year.

“We have already seen an increase in interest and trade since the launch, which provides a great basis to make the decision to stay open all year. Ultimately, this is also good for the local community as it enables us to provide year-round jobs."

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