H&C News meets with suppliers regularly to keep up to date with the latest product and service innovations, aiming to get the inside track on what companies offer to the market and how it is delivered. This week, we met with Nick Telson, Co-Founder of DesignMyNight at their trendy offices in Shoreditch, London to gain a better understanding of the business.
DesignMyNight is the UKs leading nightlife discovery and booking portal attracting over 3 million monthly views. They are also a leading B2B systems supplier with 2 game-changing platforms; booking and enquiry management solution, Collins; and the self-service ticket box office, Tonic. They have been recognised as an industry disrupter and leading UK startup by The Guardian, Real Business and London’s Evening Standard.
H&C News: Today you have millions of users and thousands of software clients, but where did it all begin?
Nick Telson: Myself and co-founder Andrew, launched DesignMyNight as a cool new discovery site for London. We both had corporate jobs at the time and set up the site and launched it while in those jobs, 6 years ago. It got quick traction so we decided to make the leap of faith.
Very quickly we saw that discovery alone is not a viable business so we added the element of enquiring into bars from our site, the concept 6 years ago was a novel one. Why book into a bar? But we soon saw that the user appetite was there and showed the industry it was the way forward. Twelve months after taking the first bookings we saw that the wet-led and casual dining industry had no booking system that suited their very specific needs and were using restaurant-only systems or even pen and paper. We then spent 12 months creating Collins and 20 months later have over 900 clients using it including groups like Fuller’s and Young’s as well as many of the best independents in the country.
At the same time, we spotted the need for a ticketing software that could legitimately offer free exposure for the event organisers. Again there were lots out there, but really only offered the tech. We had millions coming to DesignMyNight to see what to do, so it was the logical next step. Our ticketing software has also boomed now selling over 10’000 tickets a month to everything from the latest pop-ups to comedy nights.
H&C News: What makes your proposition different from everything else on the market?
Nick Telson: We like to think we have a lot of USPs, across all segments of our business. As a whole, we are the first company to be able to offer a bar, pub or casual dining venue a booking & enquiry management platform, a ticketing platform and marketing opportunities to millions, all in one platform. Our Collins booking software is completely unique in the market in as much as it can do all the smaller auto-confirm bookings that most of our competitors do but also we are a full enquiry management tool for parties, groups, private dining and private hire with built in payment systems, deposit systems, pre-ordering, email management, waitlists, data segmentation and more. It really is a one-stop-shop for a venue to manage all aspects of their booking and enquiry business. The flexibility of the system is highlighted by our varying customer base from large pub groups such as Fuller’s and Young’s, to casual dining groups such as Dirty Bones and Wahaca to cocktail bar and party bar sites such as Dirty Martini, Nightjar and London Cocktail Club. We are the first company, with Collins, to look at a holistic view of everything related to bookings, enquiries and data.
Tonic, our ticketing platform is also carving a new space in the ticket market as we are the only website to legitimately be able to offer free promotion to millions of people looking at what to do; as well as the amazing tech including mobile phone door scanners, bespoke ticket sites and customer CRM built in. We are moving the bar/casual industry forward showing them they can sell tickets for certain one off events, which is great to help prevent no-shows and make more of a spectacle of an event. We also, of course, service the many pop-ups, comedy nights and immersive events going on around the UK.
H&C News: How do restaurateurs or bar/pub start working with you?
Nick Telson: To get access to our commercial engine, DesignMyNight, a venue must be using one, or both of our B2B products. This then gives you completely free marketing to our millions of monthly users. We like to take a consultative approach with our customers, rather than being “just another number”; so if a venue is interested we look at their requirements and current gaps in their operational processes and customer journey and look at how our products and marketing can work for them. Both systems are really flexible so we don’t have a one size fits all mentality.
After visiting our sites, Collins and Tonic, you can register your interest and then one our account managers will start the process on understanding what you need and what we can help you achieve by using our platforms.
H&C News: What does the future hold?
Nick Telson: We are super excited about the future. Our goal is to constantly be innovating on all platforms and introducing new tech that can revolutionise our clients’ operations. Everything we do is in-house so we are really pro-active and constantly evolving the platforms. Collins, for example, has had over 400 improvements since going live 2 years ago. We will be working on Collins to improve how customers can use their data, interact with clients and get more business. DesignMyNight is already in 19 UK cities and there are global plans on the horizon; however there is much more to do in the UK; when we bring DesignMyNight + Collins/Tonic to a city we really look to move forward the whole sector; in terms of customers discovering new venues and booking and venues improving their customer booking journeys and own efficiency.
H&C News comment: We found Nick to be extremely knowledgeable and enthusiastic about accomplishing real innovation in this sector. The growth figures of adoption and use by both consumers and users are very impressive; we think this is a business to watch, and we will be.
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