A tenement flat in Glasgow – one of the the ‘hidden gems’ in the collection of properties managed by National Trust for Scotland – was showcased to MICE market visitors on Thursday night.
Tenement House on Buccleuch Street is like stepping back in time to a bygone age; its gas lamps, flat irons, skullery-style kitchen and Victorian/Edwardian era fixtures, fittings and styles offers visitors a taste of early 20th century social history.
Once the home of dressmaker, Miss Agnes Toward, who lived in the property for 50 years – but did not modernise or update the property throughout her life – the flat was taken on by NTS in 1983 and has been part of the trust’s portfolio ever since.
Now, as part of the organisation’s ‘Project Reveal’, the property is being showcased to the meetings, incentives, conference & exhibition (MICE) market as a ‘unique’ venue, which could offer event planners their clients something different to experience whilst visiting Scotland.
Sandrine Contier-Lawrie, Head of Travel Trade & Hospitality at NTS, said the property is part of a new focus for the organisation which is increasingly offering Destination Management Companies (DMCs), event planners and tour operators a “unique experience” in line with event market trends.
If unique was what the Trust was after, last night’s experience, which featured a medium, Cara Hamilton, who succesfully read the minds of guests, including my own (the mention of a VW brand may have had something to do with why I ended up drawing a five-point pentagram in a circle, but I’m willing to suspend my disbelief), the event should be considered an unqualified success.
“I think the mind reader came as a bit of a surprise,” said Contier-Lawrie, whose team also organised cocktail mixology with a distinctly early 20th century flavour, which included pickled onion flavoured martini and grape and rhubarb soda (delicious).
“We just wanted to offer guests an experience that felt authentic and shows NTS in a different light,” she adds. “We’re not just about places, we’re about experiences and stories, and having fun – that’s a very important message for us. We don’t want to be stale and dusty, we want to be exciting!”
The ‘Project Reveal’ focus began in June when the Trust opened up the historic Gladstone’s Land in Edinburgh, the first time the venue had been used for dining in 400 years.
The Trust is hoping to showcase another of its more unusual venues in the New Year, with Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s ‘domestic masterpiece’, The Hill House in Helensburgh, a candidate for another off-the-beaten track experience.
“We haven’t confirmed that yet but we do want to keep the momentum going,” said Contier-Lawrie.
NTS went through an extensive rebranding exercise across the Trust this year, but the MICE ‘offer’ is one area of focus that is currently undergoing a strategic review. That process looks set to culminate early next year with the appointment of a branding agency to help develop the NTS’s proposition in that market segment. A new website is also set to be revealed to travel trade buyers soon.
Contier-Lawrie said: “That part of NTS hasn’t been touched for around 30 years, so we’re doing a lot of work on the website and also on our key messages. Last night was about engaging that market in what we are trying to do and I’m really pleased we had so much interest.”
Snacks Provided by Cail Bruich Restaurant
Inspired by the 1920s and fresh local Scottish Produce available at this time. The staple diet will have included lots of meat, fish, vegetables, smoking, salting and preserving. The chef has used this knowledge as inspiration for snacks adding his own unique twist:
v Smoked haddock & leek tarts, scots lovage
v Malted wheat cracker, smoked venison, pickled turnip
v Isle of mull cheddar scone, mushroom ketchup
v Raspberry cranachan tart
v Blackberry macaron
v Sea Buckthorn macaron
NTS has 88 properties across Scotland of which 65 can be used for travel trade and 24 for MICE groups; the events vary from experiential visits to meetings, receptions, dinners & banquets, to helicopter landing!
Since 1931, the Trust has pioneered public access to – and shared ownership of – some of the most magnificent buildings, collections and habitats across 76,000 hectares of countryside and gardens.
The Trust cares for ancient houses, battlefields, castles, mills, gardens, coastlines, islands, mountain ranges and all the communities, plants and animals which depend upon them.