Meet Struan from Luxury Scotland Tours
Launching Luxury Scotland Tours was a positive lifestyle change for Struan Baird, whose previous experience in the tourism and luxury sectors allowed him to spot a gap in the market. Together with fellow director and co-founder Ruaridh Norton, they decided to start their own tour company targeted specifically at the luxury sector in Scotland. “It’s nice to be able to showcase your own country. And in terms of dealing with people, they’re a lot happier on holiday!” he notes.
“There’s not many companies in the UK that specialise just in luxury travel. We’re based here, so we have local knowledge. And we don’t do anything else. We don’t do coach tours, we don’t do budget packages. We’re just specialists for the five-star market.”
It was something of an inauspicious start, with the company launching in August 2019. “We went pretty much straight into pandemic after a few months, which was a shame because we started off really well.” During the pause in international travel, both went back to freelancing while running Luxury Scotland Tours on the side, relying on business from England throughout most of 2020 and 2021.
Once borders opened, however, business rebounded strongly, particularly from the North American market which makes up 90% of Luxury Scotland Tours’ business. About 95% of the itineraries it prepares are chauffeur driven, and all are completely tailor-made to the traveller.
Cue a lot of high-end whisky tasting, awe-inspiring Highlands scenery, exploring castles and history, plus a few rounds of golf. “All the things that you associate with Scotland are exactly what people ask for,” Struan says. “We just make sure everything is booked down to a tee for them and runs smoothly.”
“There’s certain distilleries where we could give a private tour that not everyone can do, thanks to connections. And we can definitely get on some golf courses that are quite hard to get on. It’s that local knowledge of certain farms, experiences, and things that you won’t find on the internet. Plus, all our drivers are local. They know Scotland like the back of their hand, so you’re getting people who are very, very knowledgeable about the country.”
Tourwriter on board
Being digital savvy, Struan and Ruaridh were quick to look for software services that could streamline their service. Within three months of starting their business they realised the process of designing the itineraries in Word documents was too slow. After trying a couple of options, they chose Tourwriter.
“To be honest, it was a game changer,” Struan says. “We get a lot of internet leads. With those, the conversion rate is not the best, so we need to get the itineraries out quickly. Before, if you were doing a 14-day customer itinerary in Word, that could just about take you the whole day. Now our sales staff can easily get five or six itineraries out every day.”
Ease of use is another big plus for the company. “I think with Tourwriter anyone can work it; it’s dead simple and doesn’t take long to learn. We do videos for new staff and after 30 minutes of the recordings that’s pretty much everything we need to teach them. In terms of training it is very, very straightforward to use.”
Struan says the next step for Luxury Scotland Tours is leveraging Tourwriter’s analytic tools suite to check conversion rates and enable them to make more real-time business decisions.
Primed for growth
Having successfully managed 140 tours already this year, Struan says business is building. “And next year will hopefully be even bigger.”
Now a team of six staff – himself, Ruaridh, a full time sales manager and three operations, booking and logistics staff – the organisation is looking to hire two more employees by November, and continue to grow.
The team launched the website for Luxury Ireland Tours this year and it is quickly gaining traction.
“A lot of people want to go to Scotland and Ireland at the same time, especially if they are coming from America. People were asking for that, so we knew it was a good opportunity.
“And we’re actually launching Luxury England Tours as well, so we’re going to double down and try and encapsulate that into what we offer as well.”