The Scotland-wide network of 84 VisitScotland Information Centres (VICs), which welcome around 3.5 million visitors per year, will for the first time sell ferry tickets and book vehicles on all of Caledonian MacBrayne’s [CalMac] award winning sailings.
The ticketing agreement is the latest partnership between VisitScotland and the ferry operator – which provided 10,000 free ferry tickets in support of VisitScotland’s sell-out Big April Adventures promotion which has formed a key part of the Year of Natural Scotland 2013.
Cathy Craig, Head of Marketing and eCommerce at CalMac, says: ‘This agreement with VisitScotland, is one of many initiatives we are working on to improve our visitor experience. It means anyone can buy a ticket and book a ferry at whichever VIC they happen to be in, instead of having to plan ahead and buy tickets online or wait until they arrive at one of our ports.
‘In addition to enable visitors in any part of Scotland, with little or no notice, to plan a ferry trip, it also allows us to target visitors who have no firm plans or itinerary and who might choose to take a ferry trip on an impulse or as the result of a recommendation from another visitor.’
Dr Mike Cantlay, Chair of VisitScotland, says: ‘One of the driving parts of the visitor experience is ease of access, so I’m delighted that CalMac has enabled us take bookings and sell tickets on their behalf.
‘It is also represents a fantastic step forward as we continue to celebrate the Year of Natural Scotland, for which Scotland’s islands are a key focus.
‘We want to get as many people out to our magnificent island’s this year and having this new agreement in place gives us the chance to inspire even more visitors to get out there and experience them.’
While this arrangement is very much to be welcomed, is demonstrates a blinkeredness in its commercial thinking. ‘Service’ ought not to be limited to ferries or to pubic sector operators. A visitor needs to move around easily and has no interest whatsoever in who provides the transport service.
By Dr Cantlay’s irrefutable logic of ‘ease of access’ being critical for visitors, there is no reason why the Visitor Information Centres should also not be:
- selling tickets for non-CalMac ferries to enable complete journeys – many users of VICs are, after all, driving and may want to get to Cowal and later to Kintyre;
- selling air tickets from Oban out to the islands of Colonsay, Coll, Tiree and Islay; or from Glasgow to Campbeltown, Islay and Tiree;
- selling bus and rail tickets.
Too difficult? Who said service has to be easy or you don’t do it?