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ASSC Conference Speakers 2018

Willie Cameron 

Director of Visit Loch Ness Director of Highlands & Islands Tourism Awards & Founding Member of the Cobbs Group

Willie is a true Highlander who can trace his ancestry back to Conchra Kintail in the fourteenth century and has been brought up on salmon and, venison from Wester Ross and lamb and salt herring from the Island of Lewis and presently lives with his wife in Drumnadrochit, Loch Ness where they dine very well.

Willie has been at the forefront of The Food, Drink and Hospitality Industry in the Highlands of Scotland for the last 25 years. In 1994 he set up Loch Ness Marketing a creative marketing consultancy dealing with film, tv and media and went into business with Fraser Campbell at The Drumnadrochit Hotel. He went on to be Director of Highland Feast for ten years the food and drink festival of the Highlands.  Willie was founding director of Visit Loch Ness; was a board member of the UHI -Inverness College; sits on the Tourism Awards board and on the fundraising board of The Archie Foundation; is a founding director of the Cobbs Group of companies and as Business Development Director has helped in growing the company to 20 coffee shops, 3 hotels, 1 public house and an incredibly brilliant bakery based on the shores of Loch Ness in the village of Drumnadrochit. It started with one bakery 14 years ago now employs up to 40 personnel and will turnover in excess of £2million and have just secured a contract worth £250,000 with Aldi for their award winning Gluten Free Chocolate Brownie. Cobbs has been the official cake supplier to The Scottish Open Ryder Cup and Commonwealth Games to name just a few of the high profile client list they have.

Willie has been a member of Scotland Food and Drink since their inception, The Scottish Bakers Federation, and acknowledges all the help he and Cobbs have had from HIE and Inverness Chamber.  He was awarded Highland Tourism Ambassador in 2005 and Cobbs were Highland Business of the Year in 2014 and also Highlands and Islands Food and Drink Ambassador 2016. Willie is a sought after after-dinner speaker, MC, auctioneer for charity, voice-over, story teller and tour guide.  A creative writer, an odd ode composer, a Burns Supper afficionado and general all round good guy.

Willie is known globally as “Mr. Loch Ness” for his frequent TV and radio appearances talking about a certain lady.  And although on the wrong side of twenty one he has just taken up the International Business Development Director role for Scotland’s first multi food and drink sector export collaboration incorporating a large number of high end quality producers from iconic areas of Scotland from Unst in Shetland to The Island of Arran. In 2017 Willie took this organisation to win The Scottish Export Awards Collaboration Prize of £10,000.  He has travelled this year to Dubai/Abu Dhabi/Austria/Germany/Ireland and China promoting Scottish Food and Drink. Whilst in China he signed a deal with Nanhu Travel of Guanghzou to bring 12,000 Chinese Tourists to Scotland.

His personal ambition at the moment is to get all of his cornucopia of Scottish food into the high end American food deli chain Dean and Deluca. If he succeeds – job done!!!!!!

  • Twitter: @mrlochness27


David Smythe

Chairman, ASSC

David’s main occupation is farming, but 25 years ago, before e-mail and the internet, he diversified usefully into self-catering by developing on-farm cottages. Passionate about the wider self-catering and tourism industry in Scotland, David has chaired the Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers ‘roughly since foot and mouth’ ensuring the sector is promoted and represented. He also currently chairs the Perthshire Tourism Partnership. A practical self-catering enthusiast and advocate, his holidays are always self-catering whether in Scotland, UK or European cities. It is the real holiday experience.

  • Website:
  • Twitter: @ASSCnews


Fiona Campbell

Chief Executive, ASSC

Fiona was appointed as the ASSC’s first Chief Executive in February 2015. She owns and runs Mansefield House, a four star self-catering house in Argyll, while developing two other successful businesses concurrently. Until recently she sat on the board of the local
Community Development Trust. As a member of the ASSC for 15 years, she is proud to be a part of the critical role that the organisation plays in supporting self-catering in Scotland.

  • Website:
  • Twitter:  @ASSCnews



Robert Kennedy

Product Director, SuperControl

Robert has been involved in the holiday rental industry since 1998 when he took on three family-run holiday cottages near Kirkcudbright, Robert is a long-term committee member of the ASSC, industry engagement advisor to VisitScotland and an active participant in the Vacation Rental Managers Association and European Holiday Homes Association. Robert and his wife Melinda launched SuperControl in 2007 to a UK holiday rentals market hungry for a specialist property management system. Today, SuperControl is used by 1,800 accommodation owners and agencies to run more than 40,000 holiday rentals across the world. SuperControl continues to grow and has gone from strength to strength.


Geoff Ramm

Speaker & Author,

Creator of Celebrity Service and OMG Marketing

Like you, Geoff Ramm, the creator and author of Celebrity Service knows great customer service leads to lucrative, repeat business.  So how do you create a customer experience that has you talked about for decades to come? Geoff knows the Jedi Mind Trick to make you craved by your customers, envied by your competitors and raved about in your industry.   He’s challenged and inspired audiences across 41 countries to create award winning ideas to outperform the competition. His clients include; Emirates, Specsavers, IHG, Xerox and Finnair.

  • Website:
  • Twitter:  @geofframm


Stephen Whitelaw

Managing Director, Orthic Consulting

In 1988 Stephen Whitelaw founded Buchanan International Inc in Silicon Valley and 10 years later he spun out Actis Technology Ltd. He has a proven track record of managing and growing technology businesses through strong financial and personnel management skills and in 1999 was the regional finalist in the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award – they described him as a ‘Rebel without a pause’.

His highly energetic nature and deep knowledge of the internet has enabled him to travel the world engaging with companies large and small, including Google and Microsoft, offering consultancy and training on many of the web technologies affecting so many businesses today.

  • Twitter: @toowist


James Cassidy

Senior Director EU Sales and Supply, HomeAway UK Limited

  • Details to follow…..
  • Website:
  • Twitter: @HomeAwayUK 


Stephen Martin 

Managing Director, International Serviced Apartment Accreditation Process (ISAAP)

Stephen’s association with ASAP (the Association of Serviced Apartment Providers) commenced in 2014 and soon developed into the role of Managing Director for the Quality Accreditation Programme, ISAAP (International Serviced Apartments Accreditation Process).

With a diploma in Hotel & Catering Management as a basis, Stephen has over 30 years’ experience in the hospitality industry, having held senior roles within airlines and airline service providers including global brands such as British Airways and Gate Gourmet. Procurement and quality auditing processes are key competencies which Stephen is currently utilising in developing ISAAP into the leading independent global provider of serviced apartment quality accreditation services, currently in over 150 cities worldwide.


Linda Battison

Marketing Director ASSC

Owner Cologin Country Chalets and Lodges (Oban), Director Oban & Lorn Tourism Alliance Ltd and Development Agent Argyll and the Isles Tourism Cooperative Ltd

Linda began her agency career in Public Relations in 1981 and quickly found her speciality in travel and tourism. In 1984 she moved in-house and became International PR Manager for Canadian Pacific’s hotel and airline accounts. In the late 80s Linda moved back to agency work establishing a London office for a leading Scottish PR firm – Ash Gupta Communications Group. She directed accounts for blue chip Scottish clients such as Harris Tweed, Scottish Salmon Growers Association, Morrison Bowmore (whisky) which gave her a love of Scotland and its magnificent scenery and more importantly, its warm and welcoming people. She eventually moved from London to Edinburgh to take over as Managing Director of Ash Gupa Public Relations and specialised in consumer PR and crisis management. Linda met her husband (and now business partner) Jim skiing in Glencoe and his love for Scotland’s west coast led them to purchase a hotel in Oban in 1993 and Cologin Country Chalets and Lodges – self-catering park in 1998. For the first few years Linda continued to work part-time in the central belt as a Director for Charles Barker PR whilst establishing her own PR and marketing clients in Argyll. As business flourished in the tourism industry Linda joined her husband Jim full time in the business and raised a family of three girls; the eldest Katie, has just joined the family firm as General Manager. With retirement now within sight Linda’s workload will hopefully decrease but Scotland will remain her home and she will continue to assist clients grow their business through marketing and PR.

  • Website:
  • Twitter: @cologin


Chris Greenwood

Senior Tourism Insight Manager, VisitScotland

  • Details to follow….
  • Website:
  • Twitter: @VisitScotland


Alistair Handyside

Executive Chair, Professional Association of Self-Caterers

Alistair is the Executive Chair of the Professional Association of Self-Caterers (PASC). He owns the award winning Higher Wiscombe holiday cottages in Devon. In 2015, they won Best Self Catering in Devon and won Gold at the 2016 Visit England National Awards for Dog-Friendly Business.

Alistair was instrumental in the successful establishment of the SW Tourism Alliance, which he also Chairs, believing a unified voice for the South West was critical when lobbying for the region, he is also the former Chair and now a non-exec Director of Premier Cottages, Director at the national Tourism Alliance and Vice Chairman of the East Devon AONB.


Martin Sach

Chief Executive, The Holiday Home Association (Formerly English Association of Self-Catering Operators)

  • Details to follow….


Peter Downey

Chair, Irish Self Catering Federation 

  • Details to follow….


To Be Confirmed 

Felicity Elphick, Board Member, Wales Association of Self-Catering Operators

  • Details to follow….


John Donnelly 

Chief Executive, Marketing Edinburgh Ltd

John is Chief Executive of Marketing Edinburgh, assuming the role in July 2013 and is responsible for the running of the body created to promote the city to the world.

Prior to this his most recent role was as Commercial Director for Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games where his responsibilities included developing and launching the sponsorship, merchandising and ticket-sale strategies for the Games. In addition to this, John also assumed responsibility for the sale of the Organising Committee’s international broadcast rights.

Prior to joining Glasgow 2014 John was Managing Director at three integrated agencies, two in London, and one in Edinburgh, in a career spanning 20yrs: KLP EuroRSCG; The Marketing Store Worldwide; and bd ntwk; and a director at iris,  the independent worldwide agency network.

Clients included Coca Cola, Peugeot; Bacardi Martini, Philips, Unilever, and significant achievements include launching T in The Park and managing bd ntwk to the MCCA Agency of the Year, and over industry 40 awards.

  • Website:
  • Twitter:  @edinburgh 


Julie Grieve

Founder & CEO, Criton Apps

Criton, is the first DIY app builder for the hospitality sector in the UK. It allows operators to bring all their guest facing technology into one easy to use branded guest portal. Prior to starting her own business Julie was the CEO of Lateral City, a luxury serviced apartment operator in the heart of Edinburgh. Her early career was spent in serviced offices where she became MD of Abbey Business Centres, a UK wide serviced office operator, which she successfully sold in 2011.

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Details to follow….


Xavier Font

Professor of Sustainability Marketing, University of Surrey

Dr Xavier Font is professor of sustainability marketing at the University of Surrey. He has specialised in helping small tourism and hospitality firms on how to market and communicate their sustainability actions, and how to develop more customer-relevant sustainable tourism products. He has run over 130 workshops for more than 2500 businesses on sustainability marketing, across several countries. He has worked for four United Nations agencies, several tourist boards and international travel associations and businesses.

  • Website:
  • Twitter:  @xavierfont


Mark Beaumont

Athlete & Broadcaster, Representing Bruce Stevenson Insurance Brokers 

Mark Beaumont has become a household name in Scotland through his documentaries about ultra endurance and adventure. Having smashed the circumnavigation cycling World Record twice in his career, he now holds this 18,000 mile title in a time of 78 days and 14 hours, averaging 240 miles a day. His epic documentaries have taken viewers to over 100 countries, into the Arctic, the high mountains and around the Commonwealth, also surviving capsize in the mid-Atlantic. Closer to home, Mark has been involved a series of projects to showcase destinations and tourism across Scotland, including the North Coast 500, Wild About Argyll, the Hebridean Way and cycle routes in Perthshire, Fife, the Borders and Dumfries and Galloway.

  • Website:
  • Twitter:  @MrMarkBeaumont


More information to follow.

*Programme, Speakers and Panel subject to change



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