Harnessing the ‘Outlander Effect’ for Scottish Digital Tourism

Scotland's heritage offers a goldmine of what is truly valued most in today's online world - Storytelling that stimulates the mind and soul.

From simple web sites through travel marketplaces to Augmented Reality, there are a plethora of technologies tourism companies can harness to boost their business.

Our Digital Tourism guide is intended to provide a comprehensive review of these many possible options, and distill them into an actionable strategy that Scottish businesses can tap into and utilize for their success.

As well as technology we’ll also highlight key marketing ideas, showcasing best practices for online content marketing that catches the eye of and attracts new visitors to Scottish venues and businesses.

The Outlander Effect

In terms of what content to promote a key dynamic is the relationship between TV media and social media, providing the context for tapping into global markets aka ‘Harnessing the Outlander Effect’.

Visit Scotland in particular focuses on the TV hit Outlander, and how the huge viewer popularity is translating into tourism traffic, describing it as the new ‘Braveheart of tourism‘. They produced a report specific to this strategy which provides a detailed research analysis, and have packaged an ‘experience’ tour around this theme.

For tourism entrepreneurs the trend presents multiple product opportunities. For example Outlandish Journeys offers tours that tap into these and other historical Scottish tales.

As reported in The National star of the show Sam Heughan commented that the Scottish Government were “maybe a little late” to jump on the buzz.

Heughan told Radio Times that tourism bosses haven’t taken the full advantage of the flood of tourists who have come to Scotland to explore the locations of the hit series. He cited a surge in “unofficial” tour operators who marketed themselves as guides around the areas shown on the screen and recommended tourism boards do more to cater to the demand.

“I think Scotland was actually kind of unaware of what’s been happening here for many years, I think we were under the radar a little bit. I think finally they’ve realised, I think Scottish tourism has obviously risen dramatically.

“Doune Castle, that played Castle Leoch, home to the Mackenzie clan in the show, was up 600% in their tourism numbers, there’s so many now unofficial Outlander tours, there’s vast tourism here, so I think people are really realising and the Scottish government as well.”

Heritage Tourism – Leveraging Scotland’s rich history

For tourism venues through e-commerce sales of tartan products, Scotland’s heritage offers a goldmine of what is truly valued most in today’s online world – Storytelling that stimulates the mind and soul, and any Scottish company can thoughtfully relate this to their online business to better achieve audience engagement.

The key to capturing this market is content for engaging Internet research. As Digital Tourism Scotland describes:

“Did you know that 90% of travelers research their holidays online and 80% book their holidays online? Digital channels play a huge role in the visitor experience. From dreaming up their ideal trip to sharing it, good digital marketing is essential for any business looking to get the attention of today’s visitors.”

During this research stage tourists aren’t necessarily interested in the logistics of the trip, the hotel bookings et al, instead they are seeking a stimulating experience.

Scotland’s history is a treasure trove of assets that can be utilized towards this goal. Our heritage of folklore, the historic battles and the tales of family tartans all are rich sources of the type of storytelling ideal for eye-catching promotional blogs.

This is the ideal type of content for publishing online to catch the attention of potential visitors planning their vacation, and it’s typically the local residents who are the most expert, so providing them the tools to easily publish it is a key success factor.

Lanark – Local digital tourism

As an example for small towns like Lanark there is a goldmine of material to work with. The town has a magical historical story, being the famous location of William Wallace killing the town sheriff and igniting the Scottish Wars of Independence.

It also highlights an important point – Where local town rejuvenation efforts can be weaved into this same narrative, so that it is specifically aligned to tangible economic strategies.

As the Carluke Gazette reports, a project featuring Art Pistol Projects, famous for murals such as Billy Connolly’s in Glasgow, and the local high school decorated a drab close that links the high street with car parks.

Indeed it’s the Wallace Close, with the artwork depicting an aspect of William Wallace’s life in Lanark – from marrying Marion Braidfute at St Kentigern’s Church, to slaying Sheriff Heselrig before fleeing into the Clyde woodlands.


Editor of On a mission to build a world leading Scottish digital nation.

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