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ASSC Conference Speakers 2018


Download speaker profiles – ASSC Conference 2018 – Speaker Profiles

Willie Cameron 

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

Willie Cameron was the founding Director of The Cobbs Group of companies who have hotels /coffee shops and retail all in high amenity tourist areas and today, Willie is their Business Development Director.

Willie is also the owner of Loch Ness Marketing a media service company and is a sought after contributor on television and radio on tourism/food and drink of Scotland. He is on the board of the Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards and sits on the National Council of Rural Advisers for The Scottish Government.

Willie is a well-known after dinner and conference speaker at both trade and charity events; is also known affectionately as “Mr Loch Ness” and is regarded as world authority on a certain elusive lady.

  • 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.


Fiona Campbell

Chief Executive, ASSC

Fiona was appointed as the ASSC’s first Chief Executive in February 2015. She was charged with growing the Association, recruiting new Members, and ensuring that member benefits are as comprehensive and valuable as possible.

In an ever-changing tourism landscape and as more and more business expenses and regulations appear on the horizon, as well as the opportunities and challenges created by the growing collaborative economy, the ASSC finds itself increasingly politically engaged on a national and European level.

Fiona works with key industry groups and stakeholders to support the representation that puts the ASSC at the forefront of the Scottish Tourism industry. Fiona has operated a four star self-catering house on the banks of Loch Long, Argyll for the last 15 years.

  • 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.


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.


James Cassidy

Senior Director, Partner Success EMEA

Working in the Holiday Rental Industry for 12 years, and Accommodation for 14 years, James has run several online Holiday Rental businesses in APAC and EMEA, including for HomeAway for the last 9 years. James’ current role is the leader of the Partner Success function for HomeAway in EMEA, with a team of 100 Account Managers who help their holiday rental property managers and owners increase their bookings from HomeAway, through optimizing booking conversion processes, listing and property quality and value, and guest stay experiences. James is also a Holiday Rental property owner, who has managed his own bookings and property for the last 3 years.

  • 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

Vice-Chair, 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

Chris Greenwood is Senior Tourism Insight Manager at VisitScotland, responsible for monitoring and interpreting trends in Scottish Tourism.

A postgraduate of the Durham University and with 20 years commercial experience within data management and analytics; a broad knowledge base has developed which supports insight in a number of arenas from economics to the environment.  Representing Scotland’s National Tourist Board, Chris has been invited to speak at a number of events and conferences on subjects ranging from tourism statistics to sector trends and futures; he has authored a number of publications on tourism topics such as exchange rates, food tourism and scenario planning.

  • 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)

Martin Sach has been the Chief Executive of the English Association of Self Catering Operators, renamed in 2018 as the Holiday Home Association, since 2006. A former rail industry manager, he has worked in tourism in one guise or another for much of his career, which has also featured the ever-pertinent topic of health and safety. His commitment to tourism does not stop with holiday homes, as he combines his role at the HHA with the management of a London museum that is also very much in the tourism business! If there’s a chance to get away from both, he might be found watching Gilbert and Sullivan operettas!

  • Website:
  • Twitter:  @holhomeassoc


Peter Downey

Chairperson, Irish Self Catering Federation 

  • Peter Downey has a long and varied business experience. He entered the tourism industry in 2006 after he retired from his contracting business and renovated ‘Riverside Paradise’ on the banks of the River Shannon in south east Galway. That same year, Peter joined the Irish Self Catering Federation (ISCF) and has learned so much through networking with like-minded people.  This is Peter’s second year as chairperson of the ISCF. His aim this year has been to strengthen the structures of the Federation to be a more proactive representative and lobbying organisation on behalf of all ISCF members nationwide. This has been reinforced by ISCF’s membership of the Irish Tourism Industry Confederation (ITIC) and the European Holiday Home Association (EHHA).
  • Website:
  • Twitter:


Felicity Elphick


Board Member, Wales Association of Self-Catering Operator

I have a degree in Hotel & Catering Management and a second degree in Politics. I have been in the catering and tourism business for over 40 years. I had an outside catering business which developed into a herb farm then moved to North Wales and since then have been involved in self-catering.

  • Website:


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

CEO & Founder, Criton 

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.

Silver Sponsor



Caroline Millar

Owner, The Hideaway Experience

Caroline and her husband Ross run The Hideaway Experience on their farm in Angus. The business has four luxury bespoke lodges for couples and offers tailored packages and experiences for guests.

Away from the Hideaway business, Caroline has run a rural business consultancy, Go Rural, since 2008.

Caroline has been working with others to develop and grow the agritourism sector in Scotland over the past five years, lobbying for more recognition and support to develop this sector in Scotland. She was involved on the development board of the new national food tourism strategy and she will represent Scotland speaking at the world’s first Agritourism Congress in Bologna, Italy in November.


Twitter:   @luxuryhideaways


Garry Marshall 

Station Manager, Deputy Head of Fire Safety Enforcement, Prevention & Protection,  Scottish Fire and Rescue Service

Garry has over 15 years’ experience in the Fire and Rescue Service and has an Honours Degree in Fire Risk Engineering. He has worked in various departments within the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, including service delivery, where he was an operational Watch Manager within a variety of wholetime stations and the Prevention and Protection department where he was a Fire Safety Enforcement Officer in both the urban environment of the Glasgow area and the largely rural environment within the East and West Dunbartonsire, Argyll and Bute area.

He is now a Station Manager and the Deputy Head of Fire Safety Enforcement for Scotland within the Prevention and Protection Directorate.

  • Website:
  • Twitter: @fire_scot


Andrea Nicholas

Managing Director, Green Tourism 

Co-founder of the Green Tourism Certification Programme during the past 21 years Andrea has assisted in development of green networks and certification programmes throughout the UK and in Europe, New Zealand, Sweden, Canada and Africa. The Green Tourism Programme started in 1997 and has expanded to cover all of the UK & Ireland with over 2000 members. In the past 2 years Andrea has driven the development of a digital platform for Sustainable Management, GreenCheck, which is being used for Green Tourism and adapted for other industry sectors such as the NHS.


Bronze Sponsor



  • Website:
  • Twitter:  @GreenTourismUK


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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