How can we innovate?


St Andrews night saw the Dundee and Angus Chamber of Commerce hold its inaugural International Dinner. At the end of ‘International Week’ the members and guests enjoyed the wonderful hospitality of Dundee’s Malmaison Hotel as speakers brought some insight and shared vision on how the area could prosper in the future through international engagement.

We heard speeches from the Scottish Chambers’ Chair, Tim Allan, Dundee City Council’s leader John Alexander and a keynote speech from Fredrick Haggblom from Agenda Retail. The focus was on upping the profile and aspirations of local business to go for a much larger share of the emerging world markets.

Two recurring themes from the three speakers highlighted the need for more innovation and greater self promotion.

It got me thinking. How can Accommodation providers innovate? We can’t change too much about what we do, can we? Essentially our product caters for an age old market; everybody sleeps and we give them somewhere to do that whilst away from home. So, there’s nothing new there, but maybe if we look at the way we brand what we do, therein lies some wriggle room.

We Scots can often be guilty of hiding our light under a bushel, we don’t bang the drum and we don’t blow our own trumpets. Well maybe it’s time to climb to the highest mountain (we’ll use the Dundee Law) and cry out to the world. We are BRILLIANT! Oh, but we can’t do that, can we? Remember, pride cometh before a fall or perhaps a negative review. But, we need to get past that very Scottish self deprecation and rise to fulfil our ambition.

Therefore our innovation must be of mind and attitude if we are to attain far greater results. A recent presentation from Tripadvisor revealed that the lowest scores from respondents reviewing businesses in Dundee came from Dundonians themselves. A higher average from the ‘rest of the world’ reveals that we don’t see how good we are and therefore how can we aim to be greater. Hopefully, through the Association, we can support each other to raise our game, to rise in the review rankings and have pride in doing it.

Mr Allan told us to ‘Look East’ to take advantage of the huge tourism opportunity that has emerged from the Chinese middleclass. But I believe we should first ‘Look West’ to the undisputed and self claimed champions of self promotion. Nobody talks a bigger game than the US and one man in particular. Now, whatever you think of their President, you can be sure that the only opinion Mr Trump really cares about is his own. But importantly he has a huge appreciation of his own worth and is not shy in sharing just how great he sees himself and his ambition. Now, I’m not advocating that we #belikedonald, but having some of that self confidence to shout out that Dundee & Angus is an amazing place to visit could go a long way.

Crucially, we have substance to back up any claim. The Wall Street Journal lists Dundee as a top ten place to visit in 2018, GQ magazine listed us as the coolest city in the UK. This is how outsiders are viewing Dundee.

Our members have incredible places to stay and we have all the elements that make up a memorable destination with incredible experiences to be had. So let’s tell the world that they’d be crazy not to come to Dundee and Angus right now. We just have to be innovative and do it a wee bit louder than we do just now.