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Visit Scotland | Alba

This guide has been developed for self-catering businesses in Scotland with the aim of helping with planning during this time of uncertainty. This strategy is designed to be used as an accompaniment to the STERG scenario planning toolkit - which outlines five scenarios on how Scottish tourism might evolve over the next 18 to 24 months.

The information in this section should inspire ideas by helping you to consider sector-specific actions that you can incorporate into your business plans. You can then apply your strategies to the scenarios in the toolkit, considering their implications on your customers, product, staff and suppliers. This will help you to ascertain what may need to be changed depending on which of the scenarios occur.

On this page you can find: 

Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats

A SWOT analysis helps you to understand your business's strengths and weaknesses, as well as the opportunities and threats it faces from the marketplace. It allows management to think about the current operation of the business and how it needs to evolve to anticipate new, as well as existing, challenges. Watch our online webinar to find out more about SWOT and actions your business can take.

Following a workshop of self-catering businesses, conducted in partnership with the Association of Scottish Self-Caterers (ASSC), the following SWOT was developed for the self-catering sector in Scotland and details the key internal and external factors influencing the sector. 

  • Strengths

    • Seen as a trusted and safe tourism provider​ - accommodation option
    • Flexible business and operating model - visitors can choose what they do and when they do it and makes it easier to open/close/extend the season)
    • Diverse sector - geographically and in terms of product​ 


  • Weaknesses

    • Client / Owner distant perception​ – visitor engagement with owners during stay may be limited and therefore opportunities for upselling and developing visitor lifetime value diminished
    • The sector is not historically collaborative​ amongst itself, wider tourism sector or with local community
    • Restrictive operating conditions e.g. recruitment​ may be impacted by COVID-19 situation 
  • Opportunities

    • Cooperation with local business/tourism community​ for rebuilding economy and enhancing visitor experience for referral and repeat visits
    • Untapped and captive markets​ – for example hyper-local, domestic staycationers who may normally travel abroad.  New family dynamics leading to multigenerational trips and requirements for coordinated multi-unit bookings. Working from Holiday. 
    • New working models​ – flexible turnaround days, reassurance of returned deposits subject to restrictions to travel, shorter or longer lets
  • Threats

    • Legislation and licencing​ – including COVID-19 regulations on number of guests and households. 
    • Financing for small businesses​ 
    • Wider tourism continuity – ​coordinated reopening, will attractions be available when accommodation reopens. Will this be important to customers?  Do attractions know accommodation is now available and therefore are all providers plans coordinated? 

7 February 2021 | Self-caters: Finding planning for 2021 and beyond impossible?

How can I use SWOT for my business?

The following section links the identified Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats to possible actions uniquely developed for self-catering businesses.

The suggestions were developed in partnership with the industry through a facilitated and interactive workshop, looking at the impacts of these factors on customer, staff, product, suppliers and local community. The examples provided are intended to inspire, stimulate thought, and can be adapted for your business to help design your own foundational strategy plan and test this against the defined scenarios from the toolkit.





Opportunities - cooperatives, new markets, new models

These actions are examples of how you could harness the sector’s strengths to capitalise on the opportunities identified in the SWOT: 

  • Innovation - "Serviced" Self-Catering, Personalisation​ 
  • Local suppliers – takeaways from restaurants, Meal Boxes, Supermarket Click & Deliver. ​ 
  • Dog friendly​ 
  • Volunteering options for visitors to take part in
  • Increase market - develop niche sectors for future business – Accessible/LGBTQ/Pet Friendly​
  • Inform activity and attraction providers of visitor volumes and guests of bookable opportunities. ​ 

Threats - Legislation​, financing​, wider tourism open?​ ​ 

These are examples of how you could reduce the identified threats by using the strengths identified in the SWOT:

  • Good communications to our customers/keep them warm/social media/marketing​ 
  • Value for money/added value​ 
  • Consider pricing/revenue management​ - understand your competitors price points and what demand levels are likely to be to set price
  • New experience/local collaborations/suppliers​ 
  • Be ready to provide latest/local information on what is open​ 
  • Good to go/cleaning regime/certification​ 
  • Local products/local supplier/live like a local​ 
  • Dog walking routes/pet friendly​ 


Owner interaction​



Operational conditions of the business

Opportunities - cooperatives, new markets, new models

These are examples of some opportunities for businesses by addressing some of the weaknesses identified in the SWOT: 

  • Get online bookable​ 
  • Inspirational content to build relationships​ 
  • Collaborations with activity suppliers & role of influencers​ 
  • Consumer push for book direct welcome/promote the benefits – this could be a part of your added value offer ​ 
  • Diversify distribution channels​ 
  • Local initiatives to participate in such as volunteering opportunities for guests (rewilding schemes etc) ​ 
  • Loyalty of repeat visitors to destinations, locations, and providers

Threats - Legislation​, financing​, wider tourism open?​ ​ 

These are examples of threats identitfied in the SWOT that you can minimise by addressing some of the weaknesses:

  • Keep website updated​ 
  • Get or keep connected local/community to help develop new/update /develop added value offers​ 
  • Review staffing package/pension/holiday pay etc​ 
  • House maintenance – get 'problems' fixed​ 
  • Sensitivity to community with re-open/safety measures destination focus messaging/not just hard sell on own property​ 
  • Keep connected with suppliers, understand their limitations/delivery times within restrictions​ 
  • Plan/keep connected/reduce surprises and stress​ 
  • Understand new timeline for supplier distribution delays; delivery of service i.e. laundry​ 
  • Need a framework/template for re-opening​ 
  • Contingency for supplier disruption/cachet of local produce​ 

Useful resources