Eco-tourism business on track to double its turnover after DigitalBoost support
An eco-tourism business that encourages people to explore Scotland’s great outdoors is on track to double its turnover. This follows support from DigitalBoost, Scotland’s national digital upskilling programme, delivered by Business Gateway.
Born out of business owner Ryan Davidson’s love of the outdoors and passion for cycling, Highland Transfers’ key business aim is to take people on adventures. Ryan works closely with those looking to explore the North of Scotland, organising accommodation and baggage transfers while they explore Scotland’s most famous walking and cycling routes, including The West Highland Way and the North Coast 500.
With eco-tourism and sustainability close to the heart of the business, Highland Transfers is carbon conscious, and combines as many luggage transfers as possible to remove needless road journeys and reduce emissions. Ryan has also planted over 11,000 trees since launching at the end of the 2019, and organises litter clean-ups of the routes his customers take.
After intending to welcome visitors at the start of the new season in early 2020, Ryan’s plans were halted when the pandemic hit and shrunk his potential client base by 85%. Throughout this period, Ryan was determined to grow Highland Transfers and build its online presence and turned to Business Gateway for help.
Ryan received regular 1:1 guidance from his dedicated business adviser as part of Business Gateway’s growth services and accessed the specialist DigitalBoost programme to develop ideas for Highland Transfers’ website and social media content. This was further built upon through a Digital HealthCheck, full web audit and access to a digital grant from North Lanarkshire council worth £1,500. This package of support was crucial for improving the brand’s SEO rankings and resulted in Highland Transfers’ website traffic doubling.
Through Business Gateway, Ryan also benefited from a strategic marketing review, and was signposted to a wider support network, including VisitScotland and North Lanarkshire Council’s Tourism Development Officers.
This support was instrumental when it came to Highland Transfers’ recent acquisition of the John Muir Baggage Service, adding another famous Scottish route to the brand’s existing repertoire. A popular pilgrimage route, visitors can now walk across central Scotland, from Helensburgh to John Muir’s birthplace in Dunbar, without worrying about their accommodation or baggage.
VisitScotland are now working with their international contacts and Ryan to help raise awareness of the business and its services.
Ryan Davidson, owner and head sherpa of Highland Transfers, said: “The pandemic created a real stumbling block for my new business, but it turned out to be the perfect time to invest in my online presence, and in doing so, lay the foundations for growth.
“I saw a Business Gateway advert that promised they could help grow my business, and that’s exactly what they have done. After working with them, my business isn’t just surviving, but is instead in a strong position to take advantage of the opportunities that will present themselves over the spring and summer months.”
John Strachan, business growth adviser at Business Gateway, said: “The pandemic has encouraged so many of us to explore the beauty of Scotland, so it’s great to see a business that will help make these types of holidays and staycations up-North, hassle-free.
“We were able to help Ryan through Business Gateway’s growth services and DigitalBoost support, which has helped him grow Highland Transfers significantly. As we approach the warmer summer months, I am sure the business will be on track for a very successful season.”