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 Zoomed with Sarah Berry and Lorrie Kelly at full service hospitality marketing provider SIMPLY SIG to gain a better understanding of the business.
Why did you decide to set up a marketing agency for hospitality businesses?
What could be better than working in hospitality? It’s challenging, inspiring, constantly evolving and no two days or businesses are ever the same. We have a deep love and appreciation for this sector born of many years working in the industry.
Having previously worked together for 10 years at a small, independent hotel in Somerset, we knew that our skills complimented each other. One person’s weakness is the other’s strength. And we believed that our combined expertise and passion for the hospitality industry could help many more businesses. The desire to help is what launched Simply Sig.
What sets you apart from other marketing agencies?
Between us we have 40 years hospitality experience – much of it in various sales & marketing roles, as well as operational management. We know that sales and marketing teams within these environments can be found clearing tables and motivating staff on top of their normal duties. That’s just the nature of working in hospitality – especially in small independent hotels and restaurants. You must be versatile and a true team player.
We are a very hands-on team with a balanced overview of how to help businesses achieve measurable results. And having worked in different regions, we understand how each area within the UK presents its own unique sales environment. There is no cookie cutter approach that could ever be applied to a hotel in Cornwall and a London restaurant.
It is through utilising our experience and understanding that we can help our clients to not only survive, but thrive within their markets.
What services do you provide?
We provide a wide range of sales and marketing services, spanning the entire business journey, from those who are setting up small catering businesses to those running already well-established hotels, to improving business profitability with a view to selling. So, client requirements vary greatly.
For some clients, we’ve simply designed and developed their website, or managed their social media. For others, we are essentially their marketing department, covering ongoing sales and marketing activity including:
- Strategy planning and finding new revenue streams
- Web design, development and maintenance
- Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
- Managing digital marketing campaigns – from e-newsletters to the set up and running of Google & Facebook ads
- Social media management
- Sales coaching and mentoring
We can offer an a la carte pricing structure, depending on our client’s requirements. And we’re also very fortunate to collaborate with some fantastic businesses and individuals within the industry to be able to organise everything from financial advice to mental health training to first aid and kitchen management skills. So, we can essentially be a one-stop shop for hotel owners and general managers, providing as much, or as little, support as they may need.
What challenges do you see for the sector?
2020 was a tough year and one we hope never to see repeated – ever. But now we’re back in National Lockdown again it makes any forward planning difficult.
During the past year, a large majority of hospitality businesses have seen shifts in their customer profile. It’s imperative that sales & marketing teams, owners, and GMs are revisiting their buyer personas and adjusting their business and marketing objectives accordingly. With a change in buyer persona comes a change in strategy.
Businesses that were unable to remain visible throughout 2020, will be starting over when it comes to gaining consumer confidence. And that’s a tough position to be in. We highly recommend that businesses who went quiet in 2020, put their energy into their marketing during the first 6 months of this year, starting with a more localised market than they have perhaps targeted in the past.
Agility and resiliency are vital to travel and hospitality companies. Agile companies are better at adapting to market changes enabling them to thrive. Fortunately, any company can learn to be agile with focused effort. We’ve been inspired by how the hospitality industry has responded to these challenging times with innovations that will impact and improve the way we fly, stay, and eat, well into the future.
But it’s hardly surprising that the hospitality sector was able to make this shift when you consider that it was one of the first to sell its products online during the 1990s. The trend continues today with hospitality selling more than 45% of its products and services online, and this number is growing daily.
What will be the marketing trends for 2021?
Early adaptors of technology will be in the driving seat this year, but it’s not too late for businesses to move themselves into a stronger position.
The adoption of apps, online ordering and takeaway services will continue to see an upward trend. With social media channels playing an ever-increasing role in building stronger customer relationships.
Video has overtaken all other media in terms of reach and engagement. It is also a major ranking factor for Google and can improve your SEO. Consumer consumption of videos have increased from an average attention span of 1-2 minutes to upwards of 15 minutes on YouTube alone. As a result, great content and influencer marketing are now the fastest way to reach people.
Environmental issues are at the forefront for customers and we can all do our part. Businesses should be considering their own policies and ethics around this topic as more people are using environmental impact as a determining factor in their buying process. So, expressing and telling your story online will be the best way to keep ahead of your competition.
You’re both passionate about the industry so how do you spend your spare time?
Lorrie: I’m a keen cook and an amateur beekeeper, with a particular interest in preserving pollinator habitats. My partner and I recently purchased some scrubland which we are converting into a wildflower meadow and pond to help local struggling species find refuge. We feel it’s a small but important contribution to conservation.
Sarah: I love to spend time in my garden. And whilst I’ve lived in my present home for 8 years now, I still photograph the plants in the summer so that I know what needs to be moved come autumn or spring to improve upon the previous year. It’s an ongoing project but one that I hope to have completed in the next couple of years.
I have also recently re-joined the Institute of Hospitality and I’m becoming an active member of the Southern region. In 2021, I look to assist in building a much stronger South West membership.
As a new business we were very fortunate to end 2020 on a high. We have big plans for 2021 and we believe that it may soon be time to expand our team.
H&C News would like to thank Sarah and Lorrie for the insight to SIMPLY SIG, from our discussions we would suggest SIMPLY SIG is a marketing agency to follow in 2021.
SIMPLY SIG: News from the hospitality and catering industry is also being featured extensively in our Facebook and twitter social media accounts with the opportunity to engage with others in hospitality and share your views.
Hospitality & Catering News: SIMPLY SIG – 7 January 2021 – SIMPLY SIG
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