Outer Hebrides Tourism Community Interest Company

Background

Outer Hebrides Tourism (OHT) is the official DMO (Destination Management Organisation) for the islands from Barra & Vatersay up to the northern tip of Lewis. The islands have seen a growth in the number of food trucks over recent years. Seafood shacks and other more traditional fast-food outlets have always been popular due to the nature of their market and the small local population which makes it hard to start a formal restaurant.  Many trucks are in stunning locations, getting a good following from extending their menus and focusing more on local sourcing. Due to COVID, outdoor eating became an even more important component of the islands’ food offering.

 

Challenge

OHT was looking to develop a strategy for the food trucks that could help these businesses take advantage of this opportunity and turn this into a type of island “street food” to include:

• Menu/offering to reflect visitor needs and the limited facilities
• Operations to comply with COVID restrictions
• Promotional campaign strategy to help the food sector contribute to the islands’ reputation as a tourism destination

 

Solution

In May of 2020, Interface joined forces with VisitScotland and the Scottish Tourism Alliance to launch the Adopt a Business scheme; a new initiative aimed at boosting the sector’s recovery from COVID by connecting tourism businesses to university academics and students for research and development projects; helping businesses to diversify and adapt to the new environment.

Dr Jaylan Azer, Adam Smith Business School at Glasgow, kindly agreed to help support Rob McKinnon Street Food - Outer Hebrides Tourism through the Adopt a Business initiative.  She successfully applied for funding from the University of Glasgow and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) to fund the project; employing professional graphic artists to create images for new branding.

After a site visit, Dr Azer recommended an overarching branding for the 19 independent food trucks located in Stornoway, Isle of Harris and Barra. The branding was called ‘Food with a view’. The rationale behind the name related to the main common factor of the trucks’ locations, overlooking stunning views of the isles. The brand was also used to market the variety of food provided by the trucks.

To counter the distance between the trucks and the limited awareness of the variety of food, Dr Azer suggested a collaborative menu with the brand name and logo of ‘Food with a view’ and showcase the type of food each truck provided, facilities they have (e.g. payment method, seating, dietary offerings, etc.) and a graphical map, showing the route between trucks and location.

Dr Azer also made recommendations as to their social media presence and the incorporation of the overarching brand in both their social media platforms and their signposts.

 

Benefits

The Food with a View social media campaign was the first stage of this project and fully embraced by both consumers and businesses.

The project has supported businesses by raising the awareness of local produce through a social media campaign and collateral, enabling excellent visitor engagement.

There are many opportunities that will support businesses going forward in further phases of this project; developing the food and drink offer in the islands and achieving economic growth.

Rob McKinnon

“Jaylan (Dr Azer, University of Glasgow) has brought disciplined thinking that has created an identity and approach that reflects the islands’ unique situation.  More importantly she has brought enthusiasm, passion and ownership which have been key to making the project a success. She gained familiarity with the brief quickly in a geography that was new to her, and tailored her approach based on local feedback.”   

Rob McKinnon, Chief Executive, Outer Hebrides Tourism
Dr Jaylan Azer

“It has been my great pleasure working on this project and a greater joy working with Rob (McKinnon, Outer Hebrides Tourism) and Julie (Sloan, Outer Hebrides Tourism). Using 'Food with a view' as an overarching brand has made the digital engagement more inclusive and beneficial for all restaurants and food outlets on the isles. 'Food with a view' has become mainstream and enhanced social media engagement practices, helping to cross promotion offline as well; such as selfie boards, food & drinks events, and the Hebridean Baker event. I am thrilled with the change in practice by the Outer Hebrides Tourism Community evidenced in applying new approaches to their branding, engagement, and outreach. Change in customer engagement was also evidenced in the reach of the social media campaign which started in April 2020 – over 40K compared to the 20K without the campaign. Instagram: 13K campaign tags and 75K reach, more than double the analytics before the campaign.”  

Jaylan Azer, Lecturer in Marketing, Adam Smith Business School, University of Glasgow