Boost for Inverness pub thanks to live music videos
An Inverness bar has experienced a major boost to visitor numbers this year, thanks to its online social media following.
MacGregor’s Bar in the town’s Academy Street has built up a strong international following on social media, ever since it started live streaming traditional music sessions during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
As a result, the bar has seen a huge rise in visitors this year, especially those travelling from North America.
MacGregor’s Bar, which was named Best Bar or Pub at the Scottish Thistle Awards National Final for 2022/23, celebrates the best in Scottish food, drink, music and culture.
Owners Bruce MacGregor and Jo De Sylva started the online ‘Live at 5’ show from the bar during lockdown in 2020.
It continues to attract a worldwide audience and has also led to a successful line of merchandise.
“Every Friday at 5pm, we broadcast the show from our bar.
“We have a real community out there of 3,000 to 6,000 people watching from South Africa, Australia, France, New Zealand, the US and Canada.
“We started our ‘Live at 5’ music sessions during lockdown.
“We had just been named Best Music Bar in Scotland and then two months later we went into a national lockdown.
“They have kept going ever since – very ad hoc and interactive – and with a huge local and international following.
“I would say that 80% of our guests this summer have been North American.
“We’re also seeing visitors from Europe, but we have been especially popular with visitors from the US and Canada.
“It really is quite incredible how popular the show has become.
“Music is a very important part of it, but our customers are also interested in the history and culture of Scotland.
“We have a cocktail menu with drinks named after and dedicated to famous Scots.
“It’s the history, culture and music – all of it – that our customers want to be a part of.
“We have also started a new merchandise line which has proved popular with this market.
“All of our sessions are broadcast on Facebook Live and we use technology that allows us to stream live on two to three pages, such as the hugely popular Music from Scotland page, as well as at live events such as Stonehaven Folk Festival and Piping Live.
“It has been amazing, the best thing we have ever done.
“My wife Jo and I quite enjoy the filming side of it and have learned new skills, which is an added bonus.
“We also feel an immense loyalty to those who have joined us from day one.
“Many people who can’t make it outside of their home, look forward to it and tune in every week.
“What we want to make sure is that our bar is accessible to everyone and portrays a realistic versions of Scotland life.
“The show is interactive, ad hoc and people are fond of making a fool of themselves!
“This all adds to its appeal!”
The interest in MacGregor’s Bar from international visitors aligns with the latest statistics that show visits to Scotland from overseas remain strong.
The International Passenger Survey figures show that Scotland was a top choice for international visitors between January and June this year.
A total of 572,000 international visitors were made to Scotland during the first quarter of the year, an increase of 29% on the same period in 2019.
And, between April and June 2023 there was a total of 1,163,000 visits to Scotland from international visitors, an increase of 50% on the same period in 2022, and a rise of more than a quarter (27%) on quarter two in 2019.
Video content is an important way for businesses to reach and talk to their customers. VisitScotland offers a range of advice and support for tourism businesses to help support their digital skills and online performance.
VisitScotland Director of Marketing & Digital, Vicki Miller said:
“It is fantastic to see tourism businesses demonstrate real creativity and innovation in bringing to life some of the unique aspects of life in Scotland.
“Social media plays a significant role in inspiring new and return visitors to Scotland.
“These videos help capture some of the many reasons that visitors from across the world travel here – our vibrant culture, friendly people, unmissable experiences and, of course, our sense of humour.”