We launched a new feature last year so that you can get to know our team a little better! We’re 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 next of the series hear from Alan Grant, our Senior Golf Manager for EventScotland.
Tell us a bit about yourself...
"After studying at Robert Gordon University, and graduating with a Masters in Marketing, I moved south of London to start my career on a graduate programme with a Swedish manufacturing company. Some three years later, and an opportunity came up to return to Scotland and join VisitScotland as part of the EventScotland team and, some 16 years later, I’m still with the team having met my now wife through the organisation and living in East Lothian with our two young children."
What's your role and main responsibilities?
"My role is an all-encompassing one around our national sport, golf. I manage the organisational and Scottish Government investment into a series of major golf events, including The Open and AIG Women’s Open.
Hosting major events in Scotland is key to the delivery of the Scotland, the Perfect Stage strategy. Our portfolio of golf key events play a crucial role in ensuring economic and media impact for Scotland as an events and tourism destination on a global scale.
Utilising these events to then position Scotland in trade and consumer markets as a ‘must-visit’ destination supports our golf marketing and activation programme. My work stretches across the organisation, engaging with colleagues to ensure, wherever we can, that we maximise the consumer promotional opportunities and work with domestic and international trade partners to put Scotland at the top of their travel lists and make it as easy as possible for them to engage with the product."
A golfer plays the Old Course at St Andrews
It's not been business as usual during the pandemic. How did your role change during that time?
"It’s certainly not been business as usual. Golf was one of the sports which could restart and we have been fortunate to be able to host a number of events which, whilst not allowing spectators on site in their usual numbers, has kept Scotland on TV screens around the world.
Working with the tournament organisers, venues and various Scottish Government colleagues, it was hugely motivating to be part of the team, and to see the team work, which managed to get these events on in the most difficult of circumstances. From thousands of swab tests, to bio-secure “bubbles”, the detail of planning which had to go into ensuring all those involved in the staging of the events were kept as safe as possible was a privilege to be part of. Hopefully we are now past that phase and can look forward to full-scale events for the rest of this year and in the future.
However, as our organisation pivoted from a marketing agency to a funding agency, I also became very heavily involved in the Events Industry Support Funds, leading on the delivery of the 2nd and 3rd iteration of these. Clearly, I would rather not have been dealing with emergency funding to businesses who were in desperate need of it to keep their businesses afloat, however it did provide a huge insight into the depth and scale of the supply-chain in Scotland that is needed in order to support and operate our events industry. Hopefully that work, which was delivered alongside a number of colleagues, has gone someway to ensuring that businesses have been able to bounce back and take advantage of the restart of the events industry in Scotland and internationally."
We’re excited that it’s a big summer of Golf for Scotland in 2022. Can you tell us a bit your role before/during/after such a busy time of golf events – especially with the upcoming 150th Open?
"It’s really an unprecedented time, and not something we’d usually plan for, however the postponement of the 2020 Open due to Covid, has given us this very unique position of staging five of the biggest golf tournaments in the men’s and women’s game over five consecutive weeks in Scotland.
Clearly the cream of this crop is the 150th Open at St Andrews – the cradle of a now global game. It promises to be a hugely special week for all 295,000 attendees in the Fife town. However, each of our other events in this run are uniquely special this year too; from the first co-sanctioned DP World / PGA Tour event, the Genesis Scottish Open at the Renaissance Club to the first staging of a Women’s Major, the AIG Women’s Open at Muirfield. Scotland’s summer of golf offers something for everyone, across the country.
Our role in these events is to maximise the visibility and engagement with Scotland as a destination. But also to ensure these events deliver a lasting impact on the communities and venues where they’re hosted.
We work closely with each event to maximise the economic impact of these events, through suppliers and spectators, and obviously through the media coverage generated. But also on the social benefits that these events bring whether that’s health and wellbeing, diversity and gender equality or supporting young and underprivileged people in Scotland. This is a huge focus for us and not something that’s always seen in the spotlight of the winning moments, or economic impact reporting post-event.
More specifically though, we are delivering guest programmes at each event, providing first-hand experience to stakeholders and partners on Scotland’s abilities to delivery major events. We ensure the broadcast teams have all the necessary images and messaging to convey Scotland through the global TV platforms to the tens of millions watching the action unfold. We maximise the digital and social opportunities of each event to encourage those who are in the country for the events, to explore the country and to those who are at home, to visit the country. For a small team, it’s a big job but one we do with a real drive and determination as we believe in the opportunities these events provide to us to promote Scotland as a world-class golf and tourism destination."
What's on your Scotland bucket list, or is there a favourite place you have that you'd like to share?
"I’d love to do the North Coast 500, slinging the golf clubs in the back of the car, and witnessing first-hand the views and golf courses of which I’ve read so much about. I'd also love to take the kids off to the islands, although they’re perhaps a little too young for a whisky tour of Islay at the moment!"
The Sign For Bunnahabhain Distillery On The Isle Of Islay, Inner Hebrides, With A View To The Paps Of Jura Behind
More in the series
Want to find out more about some of the other members of our team? Get to know: