DAVAA Review of 2017
Before we enter into the full Christmas madness, what better time to take stock and have a wee look back at all DAVAA has achieved this year. After our launch back in 2016, we viewed 2017 as a year when we could take the Association forward. By making progress we could establish ourselves as a real positive voice for the local industry and bring our members together through collaboration.
We started with three ‘Familiarisation’ tours in January, February and March. The RRS Discovery tour, followed by the Verdant Works and finally Glamis Castle put three of the area’s most popular attractions front and centre with our members. Some, who were visiting for the first time and learning the benefits of seeing them first hand could then transfer an assured confidence in their recommendations to their visiting guests. The hospitality from both Dundee Heritage Trust and Glamis Castle was excellent and all our members enjoyed their days out. The tours were free to our members.
The West Park Conference and Events centre provided the venue for our first AGM in February. A healthy turnout of the diverse accommodation providers that make up DAVAA learned of our first year’s transition from a fledgling group of 10 or so, up to a membership of 30 with the capacity to host over 2000 visiting overnight guests to Dundee and Angus. After setting out our stall to bring a voice with ambition and action to all we did, we began to realise our ambition, just a month later, with a little bit of action when we became involved in the process that would eventually bring the World Karate Championships to Dundee in 2018. The Association working as one for its members aided the other partners to offer an attractive proposal that saw off competition from Aberdeen to secure the Championship for Dundee. The Economic impact for the area will be approximately £10 million with athletes, spectators and organisers staying in hotels in the region, using transport facilities, eating in local restaurants and visiting the regions many attractions.
Becoming a ‘voice’ can only to be done after examining as much information as possible before bringing our opinion forward. So, our DAVAA Committee have been extremely busy representing the Association as well as their own businesses at the many meetings, talks and conferences held throughout the region over the year. One of the heartening aspects of this, is the way that the information has been shared as widely as possible. Our members, who often cannot attend meetings due to other commitments, know that at least one member of DAVAA will be there to take note and report back. We have representatives within the Dundee Tourism Action Group, the Chamber of Commerce, DD1, Airport Consultative Group, Carnoustie Country and two of our members are Directors of the Angus Tourism Cooperative. With this spread of information gatherers we intend to keep DAVAA an Association that will always be proactive and inclusive as we move into the future.
We have encouraged our members to use their voice and write opinion pieces for the website. We’ve published member articles on ‘Rural Broadband’, ‘Accessibility Issues’, ‘Social media’, ‘Preparation for the Open in 2018’, ‘Bonfest’ and a ‘Cultural Learning Journey to Liverpool’. We will continue to discuss the issues that affect our sector both locally and nationally and provide an outlet for our members to express their views. We also conducted our first DAVAA members survey.
Before the summer had begun we managed to fit in one more ‘fam’ trip with a Glenesk Wildlife Tour. Another fantastic experience for our members and one that those attending will be sure to recommend. In May, Forbes of Kingennie was the location of our Golf Day. Talks from VisitScotland and Carnoustie Country highlighted the opportunities that having the Open 2018 in Carnoustie can bring to the region. This was followed with a very competitive and fun round of golf. The inaugural winners of the DAVAA Cup will be hoping to defend their title next year as I’m sure we’ll be making this an annual event. Both the Glenesk Wildlife tour and the Golf Day was brought free of charge to our members.
Education is always important to DAVAA. In an ever changing digital world the way the Accommodation sector does business is constantly changing and we do our best to help our members keep abreast of developments. We held a blogging tutorial at the Apex Hotel and we hope to bring bespoke digital training to some of our smaller business members throughout the winter.
In July we attended a consultation, arranged through the Dundee Rep, to discuss a proposal to bring the Edinburgh based Spiegeltent to Slessor Gardens and create a five week-long celebration to the new events space in the City Centre. This is the type of ambitious project that we would like to see coming to the area to complement the arrival of V&A Dundee. There you go, eight paragraphs in before a mention of the game changing attraction that is set to catapult Dundee and Angus into the international cultural spotlight in 2018. We wait with anticipation to see how the tourism industry will evolve as next year progresses. But, as it’s still 2017 we had to make do with an informative talk from representatives of V&A Dundee at Discovery Point in July. Our members were eager for as much information about Scotland’s first design museum and, with the proposed opening of its doors in late summer 2018, it’s an eagerness that will continue to grow. We hope it’s matched by an eagerness for the world to visit it and enjoy the hospitality of our members’ businesses.
As the summer season wore on we could address some of the developments in the local tourism sector and comment on the direction they were taking. We wrote articles that dealt with issues such as the historical under performance of Dundee and Angus as a visitor destination, how we could influence how our guests experience the area, how disconnected the private sector felt from the Council led East Coast Tourism Partnership and whether it was time for a Dundee and Angus DMO. Having an industry led voice in our tourism region is vitally important and we hope we can continue to be a constructive working partner for all the businesses and bodies operating within Dundee and Angus.
We managed to fit in one more ‘fam’ trip to the Dundee Contemporary Arts centre. More great hospitality awaited us there and with the cultural growth happening in the near future it was an apt way to sign off our tour schedule. A little bit more training with a recruiting masterclass and then it was time for our annual Dundee and Angus College lunch date. Again, the students and staff at the College did themselves proud and hopefully many of the students will look to a career in the hospitality sector, possibly working for some of our members along the way.
So, looking back at 2017. We’ve organised 5 ‘fam’ trips, 2 talks, 2 tutorials and a golf outing- ten events, all free to the members to participate in. Our Committee have met on the third Tuesday of each month to discuss and debate the issues affecting our sector. They have represented the Association at dozens of meetings throughout the year. We’ve developed our website and populated with content written by our members for our members. We’ve helped secure the World Karate championships to Dundee and we’ve argued, along with other hospitality associations, against the rise in business rates and the introduction of a tourism ‘bed’ tax. But probably the most important thing we’ve done this year is bring our members together to share their thoughts, express their views and work together to drive the Association forward.
Quite a busy year.
But, we shall be hoping that 2018 will be an even busier one, for the Association and for its members.