Future of meetings



While Scotland may be a popular destination for holidaymakers, the country's global reputation as a vibrant, contemporary business destination, its academic excellence and tradition of innovation, has helped strengthen its appeal to business travellers too.

According to VisitScotland, business tourism accounted for 20% of all tourism spend in 2016 and as Mihri Miralem at VisitScotland says, it is easy to see why it has become such a popular destination for event organisers.

"Scotland offers world-renowned hospitality matched by an amazing range of venues, all against the backdrop of the stunning Scottish scenery.  Our history, heritage, culture and genuine warmth makes Scotland an amazing place for events," she says.

"Delegates experience our distinctive culture, music and dance and our world-renowned tradition of hospitality, ensuring that the memory of their conference or incentive trip will last long after they return home."


According to Business Tourism for Scotland, there are just over 400 primary business tourism venues in Scotland. These range from Glasgow's SEC Centre, the Edinburgh International Conference Centre and Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre with their capacity for thousands of delegates, to smaller and more characterful venues like The Hub, a Grade A listed building at the top of Edinburgh's Royal Mile.

Many hotels also offer meetings and conference space. In fact, 57% of business event venues in Scotland are hotels and due to ongoing investment at many of them it is easy to see why.

To cement its place as the UK's leading meetings and event brand, hotel company Macdonald Hotels & Resorts, an exhibitor at this year's show, invested heavily in its events and meetings business last year, employing an extra 12 people to create a dedicated regional business development team and upgrading meetings and events facilities at key venues.


One of its Scottish hotels - Macdonald Inchyra Hotel & Spa in Falkirk, saw the complete refurbishment of two of its main meeting rooms, including the installation of ClickShare technology, which allows delegates to connect multiple laptops to the main presentation screen.

"The Scottish MICE industry continues to invest in new venues, renovations and services," enthuses VisitScotland's Miralem. "One of the most exciting developments this year is the V&A Museum of Design in Dundee, opening in September.  Also launching in 2018 is a new £3.5million ‘boatique’ hotel, Fingal.  A former Northern Lighthouse Board ship, it begins an exciting new chapter."

Those looking to find out more about Scotland's business events, meetings and incentives industries should head to event industry trade show EventIt in Glasgow on 22 March.  The event at the SEC is an opportunity for local Scottish, UK and international event buyers to meet with suppliers in every conceivable event-related field including AV, catering, transport, florists, table art specialists, theming, technology, team-building and venues, as well as develop skills in the Learning Zone.

EventIt's founders, EventsBase magazine, have also been working with VisitScotland Business Events and Business Tourism for Scotland to launch the Business Events Leaders' Summit at the SEC on 21 March, where it will bring together senior business events practitioners to learn about the latest research and share best practice that is shaping the industry.


When meetings need a more informal setting, or for evenings off, Scotland offers a wealth of restaurants to entertain or unwind in. In Edinburgh, impress guests with a trip to fine-dining establishments such as Restaurant Martin Wishart, The Kitchin or Restaurant Mark Greenaway. Alternatively, for a more relaxed setting where food standards still remain high, visit Tom Kitchin and Dominic Jack's award-winning gastropub The Scran & Scallie, seafood institution Ondine or the recently opened Bombay Café chain Dishoom. And the news that Hawksmoor will open a restaurant in St Andrew Square this summer will please fans of the British steakhouse brand.

In Glasgow the Ubiquitous Chip serves regional Scottish dishes with culinary flair from its spot in the West End while you'll find Scottish ingredients given a contemporary spin at the sought-after restaurant Nico 111. Locals also highly recommend Two Fat Ladies at The Buttery on the outskirts of the city, Mediterranean restaurant Alchemilla and Number 16.

If a trip to Scotland wouldn't be complete without sampling a dram or two of its national drink, head to The Scotch Whisky Experience on Edinburgh's Royal Mile, or to see it being made without having to make the trek to the Highlands or Islands. The Auchentoshan distillery is located just outside Glasgow.


For incentive travel, or for business travellers who want to extend their stay and explore more of what Scotland has to offer, the options are limitless.

"Scotland’s heritage is a major driver for event planners looking for a uniquely authentic setting, which is also home to world-class contemporary facilities for meetings and incentives," says Miralem of VisitScotland.

Wellness is one of the biggest trends within and outside the meetings sector and Scotland, with its tranquil landscapes and quick access from city to countryside, gives delegates ample chance to embrace it.

Just a few miles out of any city you'll find stunning scenery which provides a chance to improve both physical and spiritual wellness. Set off on a hike through the Trossachs, or take in the views while also learning something new with a one-day tour from any of the major cities, such as a Highland whisky tour around selected Scotch distilleries, or an Outlander tour, which takes in sites from the film.


If adrenaline-fuelled team-building activities are what your client is looking for, check out the Bear Grylls Survival Academy located on a remote island off the West Coast, or allow them to feel the wind in their hair with some land yachting along Fife's West Sands Beach.

Of course, an ideal way to combine business with the great outdoors is by taking meetings onto one of Scotland's 550 courses.

Golf has been played in Scotland since the 15th Century and in 1764 the Links at St Andrews was reduced from 22 holes to 18, creating the standard course format we use today, so it's little wonder that it boasts so many famous courses such as Royal Troon and Turnberry.


Whether you are organising an event, or planning to attend a meeting there, Scotland's marketing body VisitScotland not only believes it the country is the perfect choice for conferencing, but also a place that pioneers innovation and fosters great ideas.

Last year it launched a digital campaign – Legends – designed to highlight the reasons why event organisers should choose Scotland for their next conference and underline the power of conferences and meetings to bring together like-minded people to build networks, grow knowledge and encourage collaboration.

Rory Archibald, business development manager for VisitScotland Business Events, summarises: "Pioneering innovation is in Scotland’s soul. We have a legacy of invention, research and knowledge that continues to this day and is being secured for the future. From the unique study of dark skies in Dumfries & Galloway to world-renowned oceanic research in the Highlands & Islands, Scotland is home to leading pioneers from industries as diverse as engineering and robotics to computer gaming and medicine. Quite simply, Scotland is a place where ideas come to life. Ideas enable change, events create ideas and Scotland is a place where ideas become legend.”

Don't forget to come and visit us at The Meetings Show on stand H400. 




Golf has been around in Scotland since the 15th Century when it was known as 'gowf'. The nation now boasts 550 courses to play on including the world-famous Gleneagles and St Andrews.



Cosagach is the Scottish version of the Danish term Hygge. The Gaelic term denotes a feeling of being snug, sheltered and cosy.



Scotch whisky may be Scotland's national drink with the spirit made at more than 100 active distilleries, but both gin and beer are also produced in abundance at 50 gin distilleries and more than 100 breweries around the country.



Unicorns may have been a trend for both children and adults alike in 2017, but the Unicorn is in  fact the national animal of Scotland. 


From the UK: Scheduled flights are available from all over the UK to Scotland's main airports. London to Edinburgh or Glasgow take one hour while it is approximately another 20 minutes to Aberdeen.

From Europe: In Europe, 28 direct flight connections go into Edinburgh, and or Glasgow with main hubs including Paris Charles de Gaulle, Reykjavik-Keflavik Airport, Frankfurt am Maine, Amsterdam Schipol and Madrid Barajas.

Further afield: There are direct flights to Glasgow and Edinburgh from major cities in the USA, Canada and the Middle East with easy transfers from London Heathrow or Paris Charles de Gaulle available from other markets.

When in Scotland: Once in Scotland, all major cities and other destinations are a short drive or train ride away thanks to its extensive road and rail networks.