Loch Ness

In this exemplar we visit Loch Ness and consider two points in time and discuss the improvements over time. This provides an exemplar of the quest to better serve the customer. Loch Ness is also an interesting exemplar of creating a unique product value proposition.

My time to leave Fort William had come; I head north-east on the A82 stopping at the locks of Caladonian Canal and the bridge at Loch Oich. Initially the Caladonian Canal was a short cut between the east and west coasts of Scotland, however, with the advances in ship design and ship size it was soon obsolete. In recent years it has become popular with another type of tourists – boating people.

Loch Ness has special significance for Anna and I; consequently, we were keen to visit Urquhart’s Castle where a special event had happened 30 years before.
I guess in this beautiful setting some may be anticipating a little romance, but unfortunately that is not the case. Anna had stood on the side of Loch Ness, just near Urquhart Castle, on the coldest windiest weather you could imagine [multiply it by 5 as we are in Scotland]. Then Anna lost her footing and fell into Loch Ness. She was in pain, wet and freezing, and slowly emerged from the freezing water. I ran to the car park, got dry clothes and returned as Anna uncontrollably shivered through the process of getting undressed and redressed.

What added to the spectacle was that entire event was witnessed by two fishermen in a little boat about 20 metres off the shore, they must have told the tale at their local pub for weeks, maybe months – possibly still are.

With our memories of this event revisited and the humour that comes with time we decide to revisit Urquhart Castle. The castle is located on a promontory on the side of Loch Ness; from this position it has commanding views up and down the Loch. It is a great place to pose for a picture but watch your footing.

During the latter visit, I was informed, by a castle guide, that the site has been inhabited for around 4,000 years. The Visit Scotland web site suggests that this includes 1,000 turbulent years; a drama marked by visiting saints and warlords, and a role in the Wars of Scottish Independence. I guess if you were inclined to fight over a site then this promontory would be the site to fight over.

What surprised us, were the changes since we last visited Urquhart Castle; clearly a great deal of money and effort has gone into creating a better visitor experience. This focus on the visitors’ experience is something that is happening throughout Scotland and it is extremely pleasing to see. At Urquhart Castle there is now a much larger car park, a large visitor centre – including a theatre. At the theatre, and as you would expect there an introductory film is shown, however, when the film ends the wide background curtain open to reveal an exquisite view of the castle, Loch Ness and the Mountains – a nice piece of theatre in itself.

I wondered how many people looked out and hope to catch a glimpse of ‘Nessie’. I joked ‘just as well they didn’t have this visitors’ centre the last time or you might have had a larger audience’. There is a large, and also scenic, café, however, I cannot comment on the food as we intended to eat at the Fiddlers Inn in nearby Drumnadochit. With this in mind and after a good walk around the castle and the grounds we left for The Fiddlers Inn. This hotel was highly recommended by Mark our photographer friend on Islay, we had intended to also stay there, however, we were indecisive about whether to stay in Inverness or Drumnadochit and missed our opportunity.

The lunch at the Fiddlers was fabulous and the village is quaint and typical Scotland with white washed buildings and black slate roofs. I was a little mischievous when I was in the village and had a coffee mug printed with “I fell in Loch Ness” and a cartoon picture of ‘Nessie’.

Little did I know that I was about to the monsters of service quality in Inverness.


Task: The visitor improvements are an example of the quest to better serve the customer, however, they are also an example of the competitive nature of tourism. Consider this statement and provide your thoughts.

Task: What is the UPVP associated with Loch Ness and how has this been nurtured over the years?

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