In early 2016 we met the team at DesignMyNight and marked them down as an industry provider that was one to watch and destined to have a big impact. This week we met up with the co-founder, Nick Telson, again, to see what’s happened over the last few years.
H&C News: So, Nick, how have the last few years been for the company?
Nick Telson: Fortunately we have had a storming last few years. The largest piece of news was that we were acquired in November 2017 by The Access Group. Andrew and myself remain at the helm in the DesignMyNight office but we are super excited about what the next part of DesignMyNight’s future is going to look like.
We have also continued to grow our DesignMyNight.com traffic, now attracting over 6.5 million views, in the UK alone. We continue to be the go-to site for millennials in city centres on where to go out – ironically, not just about nightlife, especially as brunches have now become so popular on our site! Our reservations platform, Collins, has continued triple digit client growth, year on year, now with over 3000 doors using us, expecting this to go to over 5000 next year. We have added amazing new modules to Collins such as a pre-ordering, invoicing and contracts, customer email management and no-show buster tools…constantly innovating for our clients.
Our ticketing platform, Tonic, has also gone from strength to strength, again with triple digit growth in ticket sales. We now service anything from a steak and wine night in a pub to a UK festival hidden in the countryside; and everything in-between. In September this year we launched our 3rd software product, Soda; an e-vouchering platform, allowing our clients to sell monetary vouchers or experiences to their clients.
H&C News: Tell us more about The Access deal…
Nick Telson: They are one of the UKs top software companies, now valued at £1bn. They have been building a hospitality vertical in which they were buying the best-of-breed challenger brands; they have EPOS, HR, Procurement, Estate Management & Loyalty. They really wanted a reservations/ticketing platform to add to this ecosystem. We also felt they were the perfect company to keep driving us forward in terms of innovation and customer service.
Their vision is to have one ecosystem, with all the products feeding into one single-sign-on dashboard allowing Directors, Operations, GMs and Servers all to be able to log into the platform, get access to all their products and have analytics, business intelligence and actionable tasks. All the products will also be seamlessly feeding data to and from each other; allowing our clients to focus on one thing – making their own customer experiences better, powered by us in the background.
This new product, Workspace, due to launch next year, is one of the main reasons we were excited to join the Access family. This is where hospitality needs to go and we are passionate about working with Access and our clients to make this one-ecosystem-vision, a reality.
H&C News: You mentioned, Soda, the e-vouchering platform. Why go into this area?
Nick Telson: Many reasons. Firstly consumers are looking more and more for “experiences” and this feeds down into presents they want to buy for their peers. To be able to buy your family/friends a night out at a great restaurant/bar or entry to an immersive theatre experience is far more enticing than a normal present from John Lewis! We are also constantly looking at ways to help generate more revenue for our clients, without them having to commit to spending a tonne more with us. After reservations, ticketing…vouchers seemed the next logical step. Interestingly 30% of vouchers are never claimed by the receiver, so that is literally free money for our client! It is also a pay as you use service with no upfront costs. We already have 100s of our Collins/Tonic clients using it and we want DesignMyNight to become the consumer portal to go to, when looking for cool presents to buy.
H&C News: Why is it called Soda?
Nick Telson: Oh, is it not obvious?! All our products have a Gin link. (Gin) Collins, (Gin and) Tonic, (Gin and) Soda. These are currently being rebranded to be called “access Collins”, “access Tonic” etc…to show clients we are all part of the same Access Family.
H&C News: Are we right in saying that Collins seems to have made a grab for casual dining restaurants recently?
Nick Telson: It hasn’t been a conscious decision as such. The mass functionality that Collins offers has made it fall naturally into the vertical of casual dining restaurants. We can now power them to manage their smaller table reservations, large party group enquiries, Christmas, pre-orders, online deposits and payments, queue management and a load more. Wahaca were our first casual dining group a few years ago, to see what Collins could offer their business and we now have the likes of Polpo, Honest Burgers, Pizza Pilgrims, Cabana, Casual Dining Group, Radio Alice (Azzuri Group), Ping Pong, Rosa’s, Bababoom, The Breakfast Club, Benugo, Andina and 100s more. We have also been busy firmly establishing ourselves as the go-to system for bars and pubs still.
H&C News: You mentioned “no-show buster” tools above. Have your clients been more concerned about no-shows?
Nick Telson: Yes it has definitely come to light more this year. Both in the public and industry domain. It really is unacceptable and it’s good that public news reports has meant that end consumers are starting to learn the impact of a no-show or multiple booking on a venue. We have decided to come at this from multiple angles; firstly we have the ability for our clients to take a card deposit or card authentication at the point of booking. A card auth is a really “light touch” way of ensuring a show-up as you aren’t actually taking any money from the customer. If they don’t show there is a one-click “claim” button in Collins that takes the money from the client and automatically deposits it in our client’s account. This has had a dramatic impact on no-shows with some of our clients reporting a drop from 10% down to sub 1%.
We also have an SMS tool that reminds the customer of their booking and allows them to interact with the text, saying that they are definitely coming or not coming any longer. These replies are shown on the bookings themselves in Collins so the venue can quickly see if a customer has “double confirmed”, not replied or cancelled. We actually took inspiration from the hairdressing industry for this feature. Again it has had a mega impact on no-shows and saves our clients hour of time re-emailing or phoning every customer to check they are coming.
H&C News: What’s next for DesignMyNight?
Nick Telson: I can’t see us relenting anytime soon! We now have three amazing SaaS products to help power all verticals in the hospitality industry. We will continue to be the innovators in the industry: We have made over 3000 tech improvements to our products in the last few years! We will also be working closer with our new owner to build-out the one-ecosystem-vision, which we are all super excited about. We are also exploring AI technologies for DesignMyNight.com to offer our end users a more personalised recommendation engine, both on-site and in marketing emails. We have plans to keep growing traffic to our site and our B2B client-base by over 70% year on year…I’ll let you know in a few more years how we got on!
H&C News comment: We found Nick to be extremely passionate about making a real difference for his clients with technology solutions. It’s clear DesignMyNight and Access are going to be real innovators in the hospitality space and we are excited to see what develops for the two over the next 12 months.
For more information about DesignMyNight click here
For more information about Collins Bookings click here
For more information about Tonic Ticketing click here
For more information The Access Group click here
If you are interested in any of the DesignMyNight products (Collins, Tonic, Soda) get in contact on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0203 581 5570