Saturday, 10 November 2012

Cairngorms Business Partnership Conference


From the stage of the MacDonald Aviemore Resort auditorium, Cairngorm Business Partnership (CBP), chairman, Duncan Mackellar kicked-off the proceedings by extending a warm welcome to the 130+ delegates attending the 2012 Business Conference. 

Alan Rankin CEO of CBP then outlined the programme and procedures for the day and later explained existing and unveiled the launch of new membership benefit schemes in partnership with the Business Conference sponsors, the Route Organisation.

Mid-morning, Sandra Middleton; Sustainable Business Programme Manager with the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) delivered a thorough, indeed inspirational presentation, clearly outlining the aims of the CNPA and how sustainable business development is an integral part, essential for the future well-being, of any National Park. Sandra gave a compelling vision for the future of nature and people thriving together.     

After Sandra’s excellent presentation, delegates rotated through three very different workshops which extended into the afternoon, following an excellent buffet lunch.

Workshops ~

i) There was an introduction and full explanation as to how members could effortlessly maximise savings through the CPB recently forged link with the Route Organisation.

ii) As always, social-media guru Rene Looped of TuMinds enthusiastically waxed lyrical about how best to utilise and ensure effective use, thus generate business from the various media options ~ Facebook, including use of PicMonkey & adding features to allow ones website to become ‘mobile friendly; Twitter ~ the key being to be friendly by retweeting and honing in on key words to see what potential clients might planning. However, Rene’s main message for this session was to get one’s business ‘mobile friendly’ by ensuring existing and potential customers could easily find your business. Certainly influential in modern business promotion comes through ‘recommendation’ on sites such as Trip Adviser. A key phrase used by Rene was ~ ‘good reviews make for easy choices’. Reading a good review takes away a lot of the uncertainty for potential guests. It’s all now very much ‘Word of Mouse’!  

iii) Two young ladies from the Energy Saving trust delivered a double act on how to access new grants, advice and cost savings schemes on energy efficiency, including low/neutral carbon vehicles.

‘Making it Happen’ was an amazing address to delegates delivered by the Olympic Park Manager ~ London 2012, Clive Stephens. Clive Stephens has been involved in the running many businesses of varying size. Before taking on his senior role Olympic Park he managed Alton Towers. He had concluded that fundamentally, although the actual nature of our respective ‘Parks’ were rather different, the actual management strategy and modus operandi were fundamentally the same ~ all with a mission to provide the best possible ‘customer experience’.

In sharing his model for project/business success, Mr Stephens listed several key essential factors including ~

  • Creation of a vision for the business with clear aims and objective ~ led from the top
  • Fill the structure with the most important resources ~ the best people and allowance of time ~ do not take shortcuts
  • Train staff well, giving people wide ranging skills
  • Foster teamwork and collaboration through detailed planning and rehearsal to ensure processes are effective and staff confident, able to adapt to change/remain calm in the event of any challenges
  • Investment in people and planning will pay dividends. 
Never having been to the Highlands before, Mr. Stephens was clearly very impressed by the Scottish landscape and quality of service provision within the Speyside/Cairngorms area. He began his talk by sharing with his audience the big ‘Wow! Factor’ he had experienced when stepping on to the platform at Aviemore Station and finding himself compelled to rotate through 360 degrees to fully  appreciate the vista. Clive stated very clearly ‘l’ll be back’!

Clive Stephen’s reaction to his first experience with the Scottish Highland for me echoes the experience of so many delegates who attended the 2010 Adventure Travel World summit held in Aviemore. Very few of the delegates had ever been to Scotland before. Indeed many people, includes Scots, had doubts about Scotland as a viable Adventure Tourism destination. However, ATWS showcased Scotland as a most excellent Adventure/Wildlife Tourism Destination to a worldwide audience, in a way never done before or since. Delegates were blown away by our Highland scenery and huge range of high quality outdoor activities available ~ walking both low level & mountaineering; canoeing; kayaking; sailing; golf; biking ~ on & off road; wildlife watching; snowsports, etc., ~ with something for everyone and all within easy travelling distance.

As one of our French lady guest recently exclaimed, ‘I never realised that Scotland was such a big(!) small country. Next time I am coming back for a month!’

Once people have experienced Scotland’s ‘Wow-Factor’ they, like Clive Stephens want to come back.

With the Cairngorms National Park, our vision must focus upon attracting the visitor to Scotland ~ they will then want to come back and will also enthusiastically tell their friends in all sorts of ways ~ by word of mouth and by word of mouse!



  1. Excellent summary of the Cairngorms Business Partnership Conference held at the MacDonald Aviemore Resort Dave.

    It really was an inspiring and uplifting day and you captured it well.

    Thanks for your kind words on our Tuminds social media workshop and delighted to see you enjoyed it, many thanks for sharing!

    Great seeing you on the day and keep up the good work!

    Happy blogging and tweeting! ;)

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