By Dan Brookman, CEO of Airship and Toggle

Now, I am an optimist. Those who know me, know that I have a passion for business and generally a positive outlook; especially around the hospitality sector that I’ve spent my working life in. My preset as a founder and entrepreneur is to push for business growth and to seek out opportunities, however there's’ been occasions over the last year when I shouldn’t have jumped as quickly as I did, consolidation and cost control would have been a better strategy. It’s a tough shout though when you’re pushing for growth, budgeting though, enables control of costs and as long as I know the costs coming down the track, I can turn dials based on expected revenues. 

Truthfully, right now, the future has never been more uncertain. One thing that we know for sure though is we’ve changed the way that we live and work forever. I actually believe it's a positive, giving people a better work-life balance, less commuting can only be a good thing for the mind, for family life and for the environment. Millennials are already pushing (without really knowing) for a new standard, choosing their employers based on it fitting around their own lifestyle and the business culture rather than just wanting to get a job. I can’t imagine the approach of Generation Alpha when they are getting into the job market. (Apologies I digress, this topic is possibly for a future blog!)

What we do know is that there’s going to be an immediate boom for hospitality - we’ve seen it already in the volume of bookings and we’ve been incredibly lucky with sunny (if not chilly) trading. Staycations are a certainty rather than a trend. They are the only way people can get away right now and with everyone wanting the escape of holidays to catch-up with friends & family and simply have a change of scenery.

Here’s some scenarios for the coming months:

  1. Rollout of the vaccine continues, there’s no variant issues and the UK can reopen as per the schedule and things go absolutely nuts (official economics terminology) for the summer, only to slow down in the autumn once we’ve all exhausted our pent up excitement (and cash).
  2. Govt gets jittery about ‘free for all’ post June 21st and restrictions remain, consumer confidence is knocked and a fatigue sets in that slows down economic growth. 
  3. We get to June and unfortunately there’s some variant that the current vaccine is less effective against, which leads to much tighter restrictions (and, god forbid, lockdowns).

So, there’s going to be a boom for hospitality which potentially might be followed by a lull OR further restrictions caused by the pandemic OR it might just all get back to normal. 

Whatever the future, the key now is to control costs, maximise margins and make the most of this initial surge of customers. 

We are #BudgetProof

As we’ve transitioned over the last couple of years into a SaaS business, we’ve changed our commercial model to a fair fixed price per location per month. This (rightly or wrongly) was a decision that we took because we didn’t want to be a business that penalised our customers' success. We extended this into Toggle, however (for transparency) we also now allow Toggle customers to pay a fixed % of all transactions through the platform instead, if they'd prefer to pay no fixed fee at all'

For our customers, We are #BudgetProof. Any customer can sign-up to either Airship or Toggle and that price will be fixed for the length of their contract. This is no matter the size of your database (nor how it grows whilst we’re working together) or the amount of emails that you send OR the revenue generated through Toggle OR the amount of support that you use. For context, the average price we charge per location per month is £50 on Airship and £45 on Toggle.

This week we are also introducing our new PLUS package on both platforms. PLUS takes everything we’ve learnt over our transition into a SaaS business over the past 2 years - and delivers a mountain of additional Boosters and services that can help you grow your business, some of which as follows:

  • Early access to our quarterly Professionals Grant of £10,000
  • 2 tickets per year on either a long haul or short haul flight plan (this is consolidated training on content writing, customer journey flows and the value exchange presented by our Professionals and internal teams).
  • Fully supported third party development using our API’s
  • 1-2-1 quarterly account MOT’s (this is like a deep dive into your account to ensure that you are getting the most out of us)
  • Inclusion in Toggle and Airship Labs - our product development fast track programme.
  • Automatic inclusion in our Brand Partnership program for access to additional brand  spend. 
  • PLUS many other features

Why’s this so important for you?

There’s going to be a deluge of new data and you are going to want to market to that data. Platforms such as Mailchimp charge based on the size of your lists; you succeed and then you pay more money for your success. We want you to automate more. We want you to take every opportunity to grow your marketing database & engage with your customers. We want you to be able to send out 10x the comms you would on other platforms and not be scared of the monthly invoice. 

There’s also a new term that’s come out of the pandemic: ‘Hospitality Commerce’. This is all the new (or more widely accessible) revenue streams that have helped the sector survive. We’ve licensed our fulfilment facility and are now shipping co-branded beers alongside  t-shirts, cook books, chopsticks and everything in between.  The ‘Brand in a Box’ concept is growing and will eventually become as typical as buying a gift card.

Pick a partner that integrates with your other partners. Data connectivity really does drive an ROI, you can leverage different channels without risk of giving away margin to customers where you don’t need to. Draw a bubble diagram of how all your technology connects with each other, spot the missing links and ask the questions. 

We love hospitality. It's honestly that simple. For nearly 20 years, Airship has grown with the sector, evolved, stumbled through the tough times and like the sector, picked itself up and dusted itself off ready for the next phase. The truth is, our hospitality customers have had our back over the years just as much as we’ve had theirs - and our teams are driven by the need to help our customers succeed;  support and innovation are at the heart of what we do.

So pick a partner where you won’t be penalised for success. Where you won’t be charged based on volume, where you won’t be refused additional support when you need it. Choose one that wants you to succeed.