We launched a new feature in September this year so that you can get to know our team a little better! Over the coming months we’ll be asking members of staff from across VisitScotland to tell us a bit about themselves and their roles, as well as some of their favourite places to visit in our beautiful country. In the third of our new series hear from David Martin, Events Manager.
Tell us a bit about yourself…
I’m originally from just outside Falkirk and moved to Edinburgh around five years ago. Since February, I have regularly looked after a dog at weekends which has allowed me to explore more of the city and surrounding areas. With the city centre, parks, walkways and beaches at Portobello and Crammond all so nearby, there’s something for all walking requirements!
I am also a passionate supporter of the Scotland National Football teams so look forward to hopefully watching the men’s team at the rescheduled EURO 2020 in the summer.
What is your role at VisitScotland and what are your main responsibilities?
I joined VisitScotland as Events Executive in 2008 and am now one of two Events Managers in the Events & Exhibitions team within the Events Directorate. My main responsibility is the event management of our annual travel trade event, VisitScotland Expo, which brings together around 300 Exhibitors to showcase their product to Buyers from around the world across a programme of events.
I also work on other activity on behalf of VisitScotland and was fortunate enough to work on wider Team Scotland activity on the fringes of the London 2012 Olympics, Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games and 2014 Ryder Cup which were all amazing experiences. I feel so lucky to be able to work on such a wide range of events such as exhibitions, conferences and award ceremonies, all with the common goal of promoting and celebrating the tourism industry in Scotland.
I also represent the Events Directorate on the organisation’s Health & Safety Committee and sit on the internal Staff Innovation Group.
It’s not been business as usual at VisitScotland, what has your team been doing to adapt to our changed working environment?
We sadly had to cancel VisitScotland Expo 2020 a few weeks before the event and within days of that announcement, we were all working from home and adapting to a whole new way of working.
The events industry has been hit particularly hard during the pandemic, so the team has been working with the wider Events Directorate to support event businesses as much as possible through a series of funds, webinars and other support mechanisms to help them until events are able to get back up and running again when it is safe to do so.
We have also adapted our delivery output and successfully ran our first online trade event, Scotland Reconnect 2020, at the end of November.
Do you have any top tips, from managing Scotland Reconnect 2020 that you can share?
Have clear objectives – most virtual events can’t achieve the same results as live events so it’s important to refine your objectives and manage expectations, particularly if you are converting scheduled live events to virtual ones.
Programming – don’t over-programme your event. People’s attention spans are considerably shorter in a virtual event environment. Be sure to also schedule plenty of breaks and delegate interaction in your agenda.
Research - fully online events are still in their relative infancy so there’s no real set method or template to follow. Research events across multiple industries to build a wider understanding of best practice. But don’t be scared to take risks and try new things!
Platform - there are so many options for virtual event platforms, so research and choose one that works for your objectives – and budget. This can be a simple online broadcast for more straightforward events to a fully functioning event management system and everything in-between.
Practice, practice, practice – I am a massive believer in allocating as much rehearsal time as possible across all events, so be sure to factor that into your event plan. I often use a quote I first heard from an old teacher with the team: “Don’t practice it until you get it right. Practice it until you don’t get it wrong.”
And finally, do you have a favourite place to holiday in Scotland?
Tricky to pick a single favourite but I’ve always had a soft spot for Perthshire. In my more adventurous days I used to skydive there and seeing this area and beyond from above was always a stunning site.