Hello Scotland: the early years

Earlier this year we celebrated Hello Scotland’s 20th birthday party and we’re delighted to share some insights on how, where and what it was like at the beginning. Big thanks to Neil for sharing his memories with us!

Where it all began

After a start in Nikola & Bill’s house in Musselburgh Hello Scotland Ltd got under way properly in September 1996 in four single bed/sitting rooms on the first floor of the Albany Hotel in Glasgow. These small rooms – each with wardrobe and basin – had been staff accommodation when the hotel was built, and were now unused as the staff preferred to live out.

Tommy Gilmour, the boxing promoter, also had a suite of offices there as he used the Albany function rooms as a boxing venue. In return for zero rent, Hello Scotland were supposed to use the Albany as their preferred four star Glasgow venue.

Around the same time Marion Wulf started TCC Network in Germany and became Hello’s sales representative for the entire Germanic market. It was the start of a great friendship and business relationship that’s still going strong today.

It didn’t take too long before the decision was made to move from the Albany to rent the ground floor of a refurbished office unit in Drumchapel. It must have been a great move at the time, because we are still here today!

The busiest machine in the office

You’ve guessed it. The fax.

The fax machine was the busiest machine in the office, as we constantly went back and forth with clients, scribbling amendments each time until an agreement was reached. Believe it or not, we only disconnect the fax in 2013! It had been pretty quiet in it’s final years 😉

Where would we have been without our interns?

Over the years we had lots of interns that were an important part of our business. They had plenty to do in translating, filing, researching, and ‘meeting and greeting’ group arrivals and departures. Honestly, they were a life saver for the company at times when finances were tight, and brought all kinds of talents and fun with them!

To mention but a few…Veronique Jauffrit (who returned to work for us full time for several years), Claudia Steimle, Christina Semple, Marcus Kleiner, Audrey Champel, Susi Kunsch, Sybille Haase, Nadine Ebner, Peter Hering, Katrin Miller and more recently Katerina Schneider.

Tough decisions and a new face

As the summer business for 1999 dried up, Hello Scotland were faced with a severe cash crisis and only survived by drastically reducing the staffing levels and costs. John and Chris left, and Neil reverted to amateur status once more.

At the end of 1999, Vero announced that she was leaving to go back to Germany with her boyfriend, and amongst others, a young lady Elaine Craig was interviewed for the position left vacant by Vero Jauffrit. Neil was so impressed by Elaine that he insisted she be given the job, even before some of the other applicants had been interviewed.

At this junction, Bill decided to go exclusively down the incentive route, and Neil was happy to continue with the tour business after a very eventful four and a half years together.  And the rest, as they say, is history!