There will be no marching bands but this year’s Tartan Day celebrations could be one of the most memorable, says KENDRA BYERS
With Covid-related restrictions still in place, Tartan Day celebrations in the US and Canada this year run the risk of being muted. No marching pipe bands along Manhattan’s Sixth Avenue or gatherings of Scots across North American cities. This key date in the calendar runs the risk of passing quietly in 2021. On the contrary, the power of virtual events means this could turn out to be one of the most memorable Tartan Day celebrations.
SBN plans a series of events from 6 to 16 April and we have a number of first class speakers lined up, such as the newly-appointed Scottish government technology adviser Mark Logan, and Scotland’s fintech leader Stephen Ingledew.
We have all become used to online events over the last year, but at SBN we have taken a significantly different approach based on advice given by SBN adviser and international events expert Professor Joe Goldblatt who advised “don’t create online events, instead make television”.
These words have remained our mantra as we delivered Scottish International Week, the St Andrews Day Gathering; Burns & Business; the Institute of Hospitality Scotland Conference, our recent London Conference and over 100 unique sessions during the 12 months of COVID restrictions.
As SBN’s events leader I have found that by focusing on the attendee experience and taking on board the principles of TV production we are able to deliver a number of “wins” that would have been beyond us in 2019.
Our ability to attract international high quality speakers was never better demonstrated than during SIW20 when we were able to attract the likes of Don Riddell CNN Sports Anchor; John Abel Office of the CTO Google; author A.L. Kennedy, TV’s Ross King MBE; Gail Boag Dean of Edinburgh Napier Business School, and Joseph Healy CEO, Judo Bank.
Our delivery through the platform HeySummit allowed us to automate much of our speaker management and attendee attraction dramatically reducing the resource requirement and hence deliver cost. A critical element for a Social Enterprise where we look to sweat every penny to deliver member value.
With all events free-to-attend and available live or in recorded format we were able to reach a much larger and diverse audience. As all of our delivery is recorded and made available to members we estimate that the content produced will be accessed for many years to come.
We have certainly expanded our global community through our events series with attendees from more than 60 countries registering to participate, way beyond what would normally be possible.
Collaboration has been a major factor, enabling us to promote partners, for no charge, for each major event. This has raised awareness of a plethora of Scottish organisations in every continent and helped build a truly globally diaspora-based ecosystem.
As any event professional can attest, delivering a high-quality attendee experience is critical. The pressure to achieve this can be draining with last minute changes, speaker overrun or technical issues liable to devalue an event at any moment. “Touchwood”, my experience has been that last-minute changes can be accommodated almost seamlessly in the world of virtual and opportunities can be taken throughout events to add value, for example through the chat function.
The networking advantages have been possibly the most significant benefit of our virtual events. SBN is all about making connections and we have achieved this in droves. The ability to bring together individuals from around the world with a common interest in Scotland creates a melting pot of conversations creating new partnerships and business opportunities.
So, what can you expect from our ten days of Tartan Day celebrations in North America delivered by SBN and our partners?
Here’s a sample to whet your appetite:
6 April: The SBN Tartan Day Conference kicks things off where you will hear from the likes of Mark Logan, Stephen Ingledew, and Christine Esson, our growing team of ambassadors, advisers and many special guests from both sides of the Atlantic.
10 April: The 23rd Annual New York tartan Day parade will take place in a virtual format allowing all those in Scotland to participate http://nyctartanweek.org/the-23rd-annual-new-york-tartan-day-parade/
16 April: Scotweek in Los Angeles commences with a plethora of events including many from the world of TV and Film https://scotweek.org/scotweek-events/
In addition, throughout the week there are planned to be a number of sector specific events highlighting modern Scotland and opportunities in North America. All delivered online and all free-to-attend. Throughout, SBN members will have the opportunity to promote their offerings to a new audience, partnerships will be formed with the full support of the SBN team in the US.
Kendra Byers is head of community and strategic partnerships at the Scottish Business Network
Sign-up today: www.tartanday.scot
- Tartan Day was first suggested in 1986 to promote Scottish Heritage in Canada. In the US it came into existence on the floor of the US Senate in 1998 when it was agreed that a date should be chosen to celebrate the great contribution made by Scots to the world’s premier economy. The date – 6 April – was chosen as it marks the signing of the Declaration of Arbroath in 1320, asserting Scotland’s status as an independent state.