Go to my photo album (link in the right-hand column) and check out the latest pictures uploaded from various digital cameras into my laptop.
Our final day in the Scottish Village and definately our busiest. Behind the main tourism stand is a giant hero shot of the Glenfinnan Viaduct with a steam train. So many times this week have people been captivated by the idea of travelling on the train amidst stunning scenery. Robin Murray of VisitScotland Inverness brings with him an in-depth knowledge of Highland tourism. This and his enthusiasm really helps inspire visitors to the Village to become visitors to Scotland.
Walking around all our partner zones for feedback, I'm delighted to hear everyone highly positive on the outcomes for their businesses and against their objectives. Our full post-Tartan Week evaluation will be published mid-May, but early measurements show we've exceeded 2005 numbers.
On stage today we have the Strathclyde Fire & Rescue pipe band, the cast of Geordie the musical (Scottish Youth Theatre), Joe Queen of Macdonald Hotels, the fashion show, the Gentleman's Tea Party from Plockton and the grand finale a joint set from the Finlay Macdonald Band and Peatbog Faeries.
Today over 2,000 pipers and participants marched down 6th Avenue from 44th to 58th Street. Despite torrential rain, the parade still drew crowds 5 deep on the pavements. Many of the drenched pipers sought refuge in the Scottish Village - most repaired to STOUT and St Andrew's Bar for the post-parade parties.
The Scottish Parliament's Presiding Officer George Reid spent some time in the Village this afternoon at the Perthshire zone talking with Convener Livingstone.
This is the end of my Tartan Week blog, so I'd like to use this platform to recognise the enormous efforts from VisitScotland to activate Tartan Week and to thank all the VisitScotland staff for their dedication and professionalism. We took out a very lean staff quota and undertook a gruelling workload - everyone without fail has performed beyond expectations. They did Scotland proud.
The day kicked-off with a tree-planting ceremony in the Bronx - a Scottish Oak being planted by Alan Bain, chairman of the American Scottish Federation, and VisitScotland chairman Peter Lederer. And, as the planting was significant to Perthshire, Alan Livingston, Convener of Perth & Kinross Council, was also in attendance. Fiona Stewart coordinated press coverage of the event.
Another incredibly busy day in the Scottish Village - starting with a visit from Edinburgh's Lord Provost Lesley Hinds, who toured the Village before we opened to the public.
The Finlay MacDonald Band opened the day with a storming set - along with the Peatbog Faeries, these guys have worked incredibly hard, playing up to two gigs every evening in addition to their Scottish Village sets.
Sigourney Weaver was spotted in the Scottish Village twice today and took interest in the ancestralscotland.com zone. Everyone was too polite to ask for her picture!
End of day commuter traffic was huge, with the ancestralscotland.com zone once more the main attraction.
Smithsonian Magazine and Green Team hosted a Tartan Week 'wrap party' for VisitScotland staff in the meatpacking district. We all ended-up in STOUT for live sets by the Peatbog Faeries and Finlay Macdonald Band.
Fiona Stewart, our PR Head, organised a mass turnout at CBS Plaza Thursday morning 7.30am. David Pryce, CBS weatherman, broadcasts outside in the plaza every day and his Tartan Day broadcast, networked across America, took on a very Scottish flavour.
Howie and Hugh from 21st Century Kilts dressed David in a grey kilt and suit - and surrounding the plaza was a sea of saltires and VisitScotland banners. CBS even let a piper play at a suitable distance during the live inserts. Numerous mentions of Tartan Week and Scottish culture during David's stints - culminating in a live interview with Fiona Stewart to talk about the great vacation possibilities in Scotland. A tremendous effort by Fiona and our PR agency LDPR to extend the message about Tartan Week and Scottish tourism.
I spent the day away from the Scottish Village in a planning session with our US ad agency Green Team. Next out the blocks is www.winascottishcastle.com - the main push for our showstopping US sweepstakes. Through Tartan Week, this promotion has already accumulated some 20,000 entries, and our partnership with New York Times, which goes live next week, should bring in at least the same again.
VisitScotland's Business Tourism Unit held a very successful networking evening for conference and convention buyers and travel trade at New York's Chelsea Piers - a huge sports complex in the dock area. The golf driving range was requisitioned by BTU's Karen Clarkson thus creating a hugely interactive theme. In addition to a golf simulator, enabling guests to drive the road hole at St Andrew's, and an aisle of driving bays, the evening features a sweepstakes to win a Scotland trip, a cooking demo by Joe Queen and live clairsach by Morven MacLeod and gaelic singing by Fiona MacKenzie.
VisitScotland chairman Peter Lederer and the Scottish Parliament's Finance Minister Tom McCabe both attended.
It's now Saturday 8th & I'm only just getting round to updating my Tartan Week blog. Here's an update of Wednesday's events:
- Another busy day in the Scottish Village and an inpromtu visit by one of Scotland's leading entrepreneurs Sir Tom Farmer, founder of the Kwik Fit chain. Sir Tom, on vacation in New York, spent an hour talking with all the Scottish Village exhibitors. Much appreciated by all.
- Whisky Live! at the Tavern On The Green was a great showcase for Scotland's distillers. A sell-out event, Whisky Live! attracts malt connisseurs, who pay $100/ticket for admission. VisitScotland sponsored the event through provision of the Finlay MacDonald Band, who played the post-event party, and this entitled us to exhibit at the event. Margaret Martin of VisitScotland's Dunoon TIC manned our stand and distributed vacation planners and information on Scotland's many whisky trails. Colin Houston from our Inverness office and VisitScotland's unofficial photographer for Tartan Week, was on hand to record the event.
- An impromptu gathering afterwards at St Andrew's Bar by most of VisitScotland's staff and the Tartan Week entourage went on into the wee hours.
Tuesday saw more media attention on the Scottish Village, the stand-out being a 20 minute NBC interview with VisitScotland's very own genealogy expert, Colin Houston, in front of the clan map at our ancestralscotland.com zone. The footage will be networked today. Colin has also been busy taking pictures around the Village & I hope to post these later.
Reece Campbell, aka Tiny Woods, arrived for a photo shoot in the Scottish Village with New York press. Reece is only 7 years old and can drive a ball 180 yards. He can also chip a ball 40ft into an upturned umbrella with unerring accuracy. Reece will march in the parade with his miniaturised golf trolley and clubs. He's accompanied in New York with his parents & VisitScotland's PR Head Fiona Stewart has teed up a TV interview for Reece today.
With Runrig playing New York's Nokia Theatre tonight, the Scottish Village welcomed an entourage of Runrig fans who travelled all the way from Canada for the gig. Over 150 members of the Canadian Runrig fan club travelled to New York. They've never seen Runrig play in Scotland - in fact most have never been to Scotland - so we spoke with their chairperson & hope to help them organise a trip to Scotland for Highland 2007, when Runrig will headline a couple concerts.
Philip Riddle and myself met with our VisitBritain counterparts Rupert Peters, Simon Mills and Paul Gauger this morning. I spent the afternoon with our New York creative agency Green Team and our NY web agency Aptinet planning the next stage of our Scottish Castle sweepstakes - winascottishcastle.com.
Susan Dickie, VisitScotland's international Head of Research, is running consumer panels in New York during Tartan Week. Tuesday night Tricia Flowers, Consumer Marketing Manager North America, myself and Green Team, joined Susan at MARC research for x2 panels - one older ('Boomers'), the other younger ('Gen-X'). Susan ran sessions in Toronto and New Jersey last week and we run a final session in Atlanta next week. We're testing Scottish short-break propositions and new creative. The findings will inform our product and creative development for city-break promotions in Canada and in North East America and the Southern States.
Runrig played to a full house last night & I hope to post images from the concert later. The concert benefitted many charities in both Scotland and New York, and was self-funded. Hopefully we can repeat this idea for Tartan Week 2007.
Last night the Scottish Village was closed for a private reception hosted by Glenfiddich. Almost 200 Glenfiddich customers and distributors attended, with the highlight being the charity auction of their 1937 Malt. A $20,000 bid secured the bottle for an internet publisher, who promptly handed it back to Glenfiddich for safekeeping and display in their distillery near Dufftown. First Minister Jack MacConnell joined the reception and spent time talking with Glenfiddich's representatives and their customers.
Check this post for new images later.
It's Wednesday morning & by now Dressed To Kilt stories have run in the US & Scottish media. Here's my own take on Monday evening's events. It was a long shift in the Village for most, with our first taste of commuter traffic - so the peaks of midday & rush hour home were very busy. Following a quick turnaround, we taxied to New York's Synod Hall where Dressed To Kilt was held. Guests of VisitScotland on the evening were journalists from The Herald and Scotsman, Town & Country magazine and a couple each from our US agencies Green Team and LDPR.
Arriving with their entourages were the double-whammy of Sir Sean & Lady Connery and Donald Trump. Almost immediately, the fashion show kicks off - it's spectacularly staged with a stellar cast. Here's some images taken by VisitScotland's PR exec Kirsty Innes:
Actor Brian Cox and his son Allan, whose cheeky exit seems to have given the Daily Record their lead on the event!
Two of VisitScotland's Hot Scots - Atta Yacoub and Andy Weir. Our dateahotscot.com promotion finishes today and yesterday hit its target of 20,000 votes. We draw 5 winners from across 5 countries today - each of whom win a trip for themselves & a girlfriend - to party in Edinburgh and meet their favourite Hot Scots.
Just to show its not all hard work, some of the VisitScotland team with Michael Kellet, the Scottish Executive's First Secretary in Washington.
This blog posted 7.00am from the Village where Fox network's Good Morning New York is doing live links throughout their 3 hour breakfast during. Their unfeasibly cheery presenter Ann Craig has everyone eating out her hand! Pictures below:
The guys from Hunter have a wellington assembly machine, that heat-seals rubber cut-outs. Even more impressive is Hunters' new outdoor gear catalogue. Following their management buy-out two years ago, this company has reinvented itself. Hopefully VisitScotland can find more partner opportunities to work with Hunter through overseas events and promotions.
Today Philip Riddle, Chris Maguire and myself had a lunch appointment with representatives of the Tartan Day Parade Committee - Alan Bain, his daughter Heather and Bill Maitland.
An extremely busy Sunday in the Scottish Village and a full shift, 11am-7pm for VisitScotland's team. Today Scotland's First Minister Jack McConnell took time out his busy Tartan Week schedule to spend 40 minutes touring the Village and talking to zone partners and stage performers. Picture below of the FM at our Highland 2007 zone.
Sunday's crowd was a mix of New York tourists, Grand Central being a must-see attraction, and families. A big hit with kids was our face-painter who offered the choice of full-face saltire or smaller cheek motif.
The Scottish Run kicked-off 10am in Grand Central - the weather mild and sunny - perfect for running. A field of 7,000 took part, a record number for the event, which is a qualifier for the New York marathon. More pictures from the run in my photo gallery (link from the home page).
Hitting the newstands on Saturday was a 4-page pull-out in the New York Post, mainly about Tartan Week. It led with a full-page image of 5th Avenue, with Mel Gibson as William Wallace from Braveheart superimposed. OK, a bit cheesy, but impactful & as this was PR generated, more valuable media impressions for VisitScotland and the Scottish Village. The editorial piece mentioned the Village and its Grand Central location frequently.
Whilst Joe Queen, MacDonald Hotel's master chef, cooks on the Village stage, we have x2 chefs secreted behind a panel replicating Joe's dishes. So we're able to sample large numbers. This helps if you're stuck on a zone & unable to grab lunch. Seared Queen Scallops & fennel infused rissotto. Nae bad!
Again, the fashion show by Ness and 21st Century Kilts stops people in their tracks & plays to a full house - as do the Finlay Macdonald band whose set triggers instand requests to buy their CD's.
Today kicked-off 8.30am with NBC's Breakfast Show broadcasting live from the Scottish Village. NBC presenter Joshua Schwartz read the sports news & weather from the Village & cut immediately to the Strathclyde Fire & Rescue pipe band. He talks a million miles an hour. As part of the live insert, I had to provide a 2-minute 'best-of' the Village.
Joshua then gamely dressed in a 21st Century Kilt to interview Howie Nicolsby of 21st century Kilts. Here's a couple pics of the interview:
The Village officially opened 10am this morning, with welcome messages from VisitScotland's Chairman Peter Lederer and CEO Philip Riddle. Jacobite/Clan re-enactment specialist Mike Newcomen then cut the ribbon with a broadsword. Some images below:
The Village was instantly busy and has been since (it's now 4pm). The ancestral zone is incredibly popular, with it's giant clan map the stand-out. Our Win A Scottish Castle promotion (& giant red postbox) has received some 4,000 entries in just 6 hours. More images follow:
The Village stage has already seen a fashion show - standing room only - live cooking demos by Joe Queen and Highland dancing. There's loads of photos from today loaded into my photo gallery. Go have a look (link from the right hand menu).