A Warm Welcome
Guests touched down on day one and were transferred in luxurious, chauffeur driven comfort to the iconic Balmoral Hotel. Here they were given a warm Scottish welcome from both Hello Scotland and outbound agency Event 2 Event (E2E) staff before checking into their top end rooms to take in the castle views and relax before dinner. The first chance for everyone to come together had to be special, setting the tone for the group’s time in Scotland. An exclusive use dinner – at the family run Timberyard restaurant – and a menu that celebrated Scotland’s abundant natural larder, got the incentive trip kicked off in style. Guests enjoyed pre-dinner G&T’s (a local Scottish gin of course) in the beautiful interior courtyard, before sitting down to share in a family style dining feast full of delights that had been fished, foraged, smoked and cured to truly showcase local produce in an innovative and exciting way.
Following a welcome speech and evening that left the group excited for the days ahead, they returned to the hotel for a night cap before retiring to their rooms where a beautifully wrapped box and personalised note awaited them for a final welcoming surprise. Inside, an exquisite Johnsons of Elgin cashmere throw to take home. A little touch of Scotland to have in their homes back in Australia, that forever reminds them of their time in our stunning capital city.
Creating bonds with the locals
After a good night’s rest, it was time for the group to get a taste of Scotland. A chance to meet some amazing locals and try some Scottish delicacies as they embarked on a ‘meet the artisans’ tour. Departing from the hotel lobby, led by five friendly and knowledgeable guides, the group spent the morning discovering Edinburgh’s picturesque old town and stopping in at local foodie stalls and stores. Here, they heard stories from the owners about their businesses and enjoy an array of treats like cranachan fudge, Scottish cheddar and a local whisky flavoured beer. The culture of the Fringe Festival was on every corner and the artisans taking time out to chat with the Toyota group really demonstrated one of the things that makes Scotland so great – the people and our passion for our country.
The group came back together for lunch at the top of the Royal Mile in the charismatic Cannonball restaurant, where they were treated to a private meet and greet and performance from Scottish comedian and Fringe Festival veteran Fred MacAulay. A unique chance to get a sense of just what the festival brings to culture in Scotland and what it means to be part of such an iconic event.
An afternoon at leisure allowed the group to indulge in some more of the festival atmosphere before getting ready for an evening to remember. They would not only attend The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, but came together to experience spectacular views from their seats in The Royal Gallery. Indulging in a beautiful VIP dining experience prior to the performance, the group, alongside invited dignitaries, got to meet some of the cast and enjoy a private recital by specially selected cast members. A memorable experience that truly cannot be forgotten.
Hello Scotland see so often the overall success companies enjoy when they have a diverse perspective in the workplace. Everyone has different interests and passions and so, to be truly rewarding, it is important that an incentive considers these diversities. Luckily, E2E and Toyota Australia also prioritise the importance of offering a range of activities to truly engage and reward their guests and so we celebrated these individualities with some optional activities for the guests.
Some of the group had an early start and flew by helicopter to St Andrews, the home of golf, for eighteen holes on the stunning Kingsbarns links course and some time in this famous golf town, because a photo opportunity on the famous Swilcan Bridge could not be missed!
Other guests enjoyed a tour of the private art collection at Gosford House before a gin tasting experience and lunch at the unique NB Gin distillery.
Two groups remained in the city – some taking in a luxurious shopping experience with private guide whilst the others had tickets to some of the festivals sought after live shows and some more time with the legendary Fred MacAulay.
All the guests returned to the hotel enthusiastic and ready to come together again that evening to celebrate their successes with a gala dinner evening on board The Royal Yacht Britannia.
With the opportunity to become honorary Scots for one night only, the men came together for a kilt fitting and a taste of some ‘alternative’ comedy with Hello Scotland’s Bill helping the men into their formal attire and teaching them some kilt wearing hints and tricks. The ladies meanwhile enjoyed some cocktails in the bar and were given tartan sashes to complement their evening gowns before coming together once again with the gents.
A fleet of vintage black taxis lined up to transfer the group to the Royal Yacht and a piper welcomed them onboard for a champagne drinks reception. Memorable moments were sprinkled throughout the evening with Ginny & the Tonic on board to entertain and the opportunity to meet Grant Harrold, former Royal butler to the Prince of Wales. The night was a rewarding experience and so very fitting as this was the night the guests received their awards for outstanding performance over the sales year.
The Heart of the Highlands
The next day it was time to check out of the capital and head to the heart of the Highlands. Kilted chauffeurs awaited the group to transfer them in 4×4 vehicles out of the city and to the incredibly special Duntreath Castle. Just being in the grounds of this private home, owned by the same family since 1430, captures your heart and soul forever. With this special venue as a backdrop, the group enjoyed their very own clan games – strengthening the emotional bond between Toyota and their key sales partners to drive success in the years to follow.
Experiencing the truly special spirit of Scotland continued for the group as they enjoyed lunch at the picturesque and tranquil Glengoyne Distillery. Hosted by the distillery’s marketing director the group enjoyed an exclusive visit and some special tastes before wandering up to the waterfall, the original water source for the distillery, where they were each presented with a unique, single cask bottle of whisky as a gift to take home.
The group continued in their 4x4s to their luxurious home for the coming days, The Gleneagles Hotel. The group checked in and refreshed before enjoying dinner together in the stunning Glendevon suite that evening.
True Scottish Spirit
The following morning the weather was against us with the planned helicopter flights, but Hello Scotland and all of our wonderful suppliers are seasoned professionals, so with true Scottish spirit, an alternative plan was quickly devised. The Toyota group yet again joined us with their amazingly positive approach and braced themselves for an adventurous, if a little bit wet, day of highland country activities – a speedboat adventure on Loch Lomond, falconry and gun dog displays and even being ambushed by some hairy highlanders, who gave a fun insight into clan history.
After embracing the full force of the Scottish weather, the evening lent itself to a cosier, more relaxing experience. The group travelled the short distance from Gleneagles to Glenearn House, the home of Yannick and Shari where they enjoyed dinner in Yann’s restaurant and once again got to experience just how good locally sourced Scottish produce can be – this time with a little of Yann’s French cooking flare!
A Glorious Playground
There is a whole world of country pursuits to take advantage of in the Scottish Highlands and the next day provided the group another opportunity to pick an individual activity in this stunning highland setting. Fly fishing and simulated game shooting were two of the options available and the outdoorsy theme continued into the groups final evening. They were lead away from the main hotel to the wonderful Shooting Lodge for dinner.
Of course we could not let the group leave without one last chance to surprise them and indulge their love for all of Scotland, our people and our warm and friendly spirit. With that in mind, after their much loved performance in Edinburgh, Ginny & The Tonic were invited back to see the group off in style and dance the night away one last time.
“I will never forget the boat trip. When I think back, the weather was awful but we laughed from start to finish”