Lochaber Chamber of Commerce have recently appointed Chris O’Brien, an experienced digital marketing and public relations professional, as the new Destination Manager for The Outdoor Capital of the UK, the tourism destination brand for Fort William and Lochaber in the Highlands of Scotland.
Under the Outdoor Capital of the UK (OCUK) brand the Lochaber Chamber of Commerce publicise, sponsor and promote the area as a tourism destination. Through a range of collaborative marketing initiatives and activities the organisation promotes Fort William and Lochaber as the best place in the UK for everyone to experience the outdoors; with a view to developing local jobs and wealth and encouraging sustainable economic growth.
Chris is delighted to have been appointed as Destination Manager for the OCUK and is looking forward to bringing his own brand of enthusiasm and hard work to the role: “This has given me a fantastic opportunity to return to Scotland and work on an extremely prestigious brand. I’m looking forward to working collaboratively with local businesses to build an Outdoor Capital brand that truly reflects the fantastic outdoor tourism offering we have in Lochaber and the wide diversity of businesses and people that we have here.”
Despite only being in his late 30’s Chris O’Brien has an enviable marketing pedigree with a wide and successful career working with the English Premier League, Reigate and Banstead Borough Council, Virgin, Nestle and a variety of musicians and comedians.
He was brought up in Scotland and Italy and has been a regular visitor to the Highlands for many years. He is also a passionate climber.
A short interview with Chris O’Brien, the new Destination Manager for The Outdoor Capital of the UK:
Paddy Cuthbert from Littlehouse Media, who works with Lochaber Chamber of Commerce on their media relations campaigns for The Outdoor Capital of the UK, caught up with Chris O’Brien to find out a bit more about what Chris has planned for the OCUK.
What are your main priorities for The Outdoor Capital of the UK now that you have been in post for a couple of weeks and have had time to acclimatise?
There are four key projects that we are going to be focusing on in the immediate future. The delivery of a new and more visitor friendly and user generated content focused website, a VisitScotland Growth Fund Application, a digital content marketing campaign and Lochaber Ideas Week 2016. I will also be making a point of meeting as many of the Lochaber business community as possible in the coming weeks in order to build a collaborative and community led vision for Lochaber going forward.
Tell me more about the new Outdoor Capital website you are working on.
We are delighted to be working in partnership with VisitScotland to produce a truly unique website offering. VisitScotland are dedicating an incredible amount of time and resource to a project that really excites them. Both parties are working towards completing this project by early 2017.
What will make this website so different from other tourism destination websites?
This website is being developed in partnership with VisitScotland and has a huge focus on User Generated Content. Our intention is to promote the people of Lochaber just as much as the destination itself, we want to let the rest of the world know about the passionate and warm people that help make us The Outdoor Capital of the UK!
The VisitScotland Growth Fund was deemed a great success for Lochaber in 2015. I understand The Outdoor Capital is applying again in 2016. Where are you at with the application and what marketing projects have you got planned?
We are submitting another VisitScotland Growth Fund Application and are hoping for between £80,000 and £100,000. We have had a number of meetings and discussions are ongoing about this year’s application. The campaign concept we have planned will encompass much more of Lochaber and really showcase the local talent and spirit that makes us. We are not just about promoting The Outdoor Capital of the UK brand to UK and overseas tourists. We are very much about celebrating the amazing community we live in, truly reflecting VisitScotland’s Spirit of Scotland and the Year of Innovation. I’m hoping to be able to announce our plans very soon.
You mentioned a digital content marketing campaign. What do you mean by this?
Outside of the new website and growth fund projects there is a real need to increase the volume and quality of video content that we have to showcase all aspects of The Outdoor Capital of the UK to the rest of the UK and indeed the world on the social media channels available to us. We already have plans for a large series of short online videos to promote the region over the next six months in line with Scotland’s Year of Innovation.
So what is Lochaber Ideas Week and why is it so important?
I now have first hand experience that The Outdoor Capital of the UK is a great place in which to live, work, study and do business. Lochaber Ideas Week is a week of business development workshops, entrepreneurial competitions, open discussions, inspirational talks and networking opportunities that celebrate business, education and community in the area. Lochaber Chamber of Commerce’s goal is to create new connections and points of collaboration in which to build a diverse community of practitioners who strive to develop new ways of activating, interacting, collaborating and marketing Lochaber.
I’m very excited to be working on this year’s event that will be staged across the region from the 14th to 19th of November. We have an incredible line up planned and the full programme will be announced in the coming weeks.
And finally what is your vision for Lochaber and the Outdoor Capital of the UK brand?
It is an absolute must for me to meet as many business owners in Lochaber as possible in the coming weeks and months. I want to gather the opinions of all and get as much input as possible on the future of The Outdoor Capital of the UK and what the brand means to the community within the region. In partnership with all in Lochaber we’ll be able to map out a true vision for the future of Lochaber, The Outdoor Capital of the UK, make strategic plans and execute activities to achieve the objectives.