Kevan Holland and Martin Dempster talk about how the right directory boosts hospitality businesses. Together, Kevan and Martin, are Trident Hospitality Consultants an award-winning extension of your venue’s sales team. They represent a wide range of independent hotels and venues. The lovely chaps have enjoyed working with Claire Lee for the past few years. They call Claire ‘Maj’ as she is, after all, the Venue Queen. Claire’s side-hustle is being one of the Co-founders of Borrow my Garden.
In the following blog, Kevan and Martin describe recent events through the pandemic. They document their association with Venue Queen and Borrow my Garden. And they describe how they strive to support the hospitality industry during these challenging times.
Well …. where do you start? The last eighteen plus months have been a roller coaster of a time. We now have words in daily use that previously we’ve never heard of let alone understood. However, certain businesses have been able to have a serious look at what they have done previously and what they need to do to keep trading successfully. One such company is Borrow my Garden. Borrow my Garden and Venue Queen have the same sales ethos so are a good fit for referrals with each other.
Kevan Holland started Trident Hospitality Consultants in 2010 with a determination to offer a proactive sales service to quality independent venues throughout the UK. After many years in the industry as a booking agent but also with vast experience working in venues on operations and sales, he thought it was the time to take on the big guys. But after a period of time, catching up with an old colleague, also working with independents taking on the big guys, resources were pooled and Martin joined Kevan.
One of the venues Trident Hospitality Consultants worked with was Pendley Manor in Hertfordshire. Pendley Manor’s management was looking to increase the awareness of their venue amongst the agency community. The agency community represent many of the top corporates in the country and overseas. The main contact at the hotel who worked with Kevan and Martin was a certain Sales Director called Claire Lee. This is where their particular journey begins.
After a successful period working with the team at Pendley Manor, Claire moved off to other roles and finally took the immense decision to set up her own venue finding agency called Venue Queen.
As is often the case in the hotel & meetings Industry, Trident Hospitality Consultants and Venue Queen regularly came in contact with each other. Claire realised that Kevan took on slightly unusual, fiercely independent, character properties. These locations were ideal for some of Venue Queens clients so Claire stayed in touch to ensure they were well looked after at a competitive price. Over the years the two companies worked well together with mutual trust and professionalism at their heart.
As Venue Queen grew, we approached Claire about various other projects including potential consultancy and advice on upcoming projects within the industry. We at Trident Hospitality Consultants met with Venue Queen and with their experience felt they could add some value by helping to bring various properties to the market. Some projects were just starting to take off when, as we all know, Covid 19 struck in spring 2020.
Our industry, the hospitality business, has probably been affected more than any other industry within the UK. Many people have lost their jobs. The scene on re-opening may never look quite the same again. Some people were fortunate in that their business was not to be troubled too much by this worldwide pandemic and others found it to be a real boon. While conversely and very sadly others will never return.
Before Covid 19 became part of our everyday language, Claire at Venue Queen got together with Jo from Striking Places Photography and added a new business to her ‘empire’. This was to be possibly the saviour for many within the hospitality industry. The ladies discovered a fantastic a gap in the online directory market that wholly supports the hospitality sector.
Brilliantly named ‘Borrow my Garden’, the premise was simply that land was in demand for outside events. Venues that had grounds that had been traditionally underused and neglected could now use them as a business opportunity.
With enquiry levels having been very positive over the past few years, venues were primarily concerned with raising day delegate rates and maximising the use of their internal facilities. Occasionally the associated land was used for a game of rounders or a team bonding session in the rain before the beige buffet or BBQ.
However, since the clever ladies at Borrow my Garden had discovered the huge demand for outside spaces for events it was becoming startlingly clear how the right directory boosts hospitality businesses in a new way.
However, the world was suddenly turned on its head and nobody, however much they wanted to, could make use of indoor meeting rooms, restaurants or the spa centre. What were we to do? How about some not just out-of-the-box thinking but some real out of the venue thinking? Could using the previously sparsely utilised grounds be a real option & bring in some much-needed revenue moving forward… enter Claire on her white charger! It had never been so apparent, how the right directory was boosting hospitality businesses throughout the UK; even in a pandemic.
The independent properties that Trident Hospitality Consultants have represented for many years were at the sharp end of the incoming crisis. Sometimes, due to the flatter management structure, they are able to respond more decisively. On Trident Hospitality Consultants recommendation, many venues joined Borrow my Garden; if they were not already part of their happy band, and things started to take off.
In conversations with Claire, we heard of farmers providing fields for events, as well as families hiring a single field for camping. All these creative and alternative ideas and many many more. Venues that had previously only mowed lawns and were aware of some trees somewhere on the property were moving headlong into promoting their newly realised viable space. For now outside events were becoming extremely popular. Locations are able to pick and choose what they want to offer on their available space. What they want and don’t want to happen on their land. They also have the freedom to charge what they deem reasonable. All parties were happy with the resulting agreement. Claire and her marvellous team advise on what is happening. There is a real demand for the land where Dolly used to graze.
Those operators who have a glass (or field) half-full mentality and bought into the idea Borrow my Garden was offering jumped all-in. These operators have seen fabulous increased enquiries. New revenues have been coming through even during the last 18 months of Covid 19 induced restrictions. Many venues did decline to jump aboard the Borrow my Garden train. When approached they took the ‘Computer says no’ option or the oft-quoted phrase of ‘that’s not what we do here’. Well! More fool them!
People, in business or groups of family and friends who suffered three lockdowns, are now looking at what they can do to get together moving forward. Many have rediscovered the countryside and doing things that don’t mean being confined to four walls. Borrow my Garden has seen incredible growth in it’s membership as this burning need to ‘get outside’ has ramped up. These venues are being rewarded for their forethought and business acumen.
Now that we’re looking at coming out of our houses and moving into other areas, including hotels and conference venues, outside is still an attractive choice. Many companies have provided outdoor escape rooms and other team-building events. These outdoor events will be important as people get together after not having been together for over a year. Companies are now looking at reintroducing team-building and activities. Bonding together is vital and they feel outside is the safe and viable option at the moment.
Here at Trident Hospitality Consultants we feel Borrow my Garden has really got the ‘mood of the room’ right or, in this case the mood of the field. People are still wary of being in large indoor groups. We have to be understanding that this will indeed take time to overcome. There has been plenty of talk of wellbeing and taking into account people’s mental health on this momentous move back to the workplace. The great outdoors must be seen as the starting point for many companies and their teams.
As well as considering everyone’s mental health we must also be very aware that sustainability has also built up a green head of steam over the last twelve months. The need to protect jobs and businesses is paramount. However, people who have now utilised the countryside to new levels will have an enhanced empathy with nature. People will be looking to work with businesses that support sustainability and protect our precious environment. It’s all about people, the planet and yes, profit.
To summarise, Borrow my Garden has been at the vanguard of the outdoor movement and it’s true to say that they have helped many venues stay afloat before the vaccine ‘cavalry’ arrived and therefore jobs and futures began to become protected. Trident Consultancy’s venues are all independent. They have grasped the chance to embrace a new business pipeline that is different to the norm and what they have been used to. It is fantastic having the chance to work with Borrow my Garden that has a very similar approach. With the attitude that where there’s a problem, we have the industry knowledge and ingenuity to overcome.
Maybe there is a fourth wave or a new variant around the corner that locks us in our homes again. However, companies like Borrow my Garden and Trident Hospitality Consultants will be there to meet the challenge head-on. Not all of our ideas have worked but we didn’t shut the door and give in, we tried new tactics and utilised technology wherever possible. Working together in business collaboration, with similar mindsets we have been able to keep afloat while many within the hotel and meetings industry have not been as fortunate.
Trident Hospitality Consultants are looking forward to continuing to work with Claire and the team at Borrow my Garden in what’s left of 2021, going into next year and beyond. Enquiry levels are rising, hopefully, confirmations and cash flow will surely follow. Things will never be the same and maybe some good will have come out of this incredible last twelve months and some people are more responsible than others for that.