The 2023 Minifesto
Last year, around this time, I wrote our company Minifesto for 2022. It was well received by our customers and partners, kept us on track and meant that our team knew our direction.
You can have a read here; we managed around 80% of it. We were distracted somewhat by both Airship & Toggle being acquired by Zonal, however in the 5 months since then we’ve added another 6 members to the Product Team and now we can move much quicker than ever before.
Before we jump in, a note on our recent product challenges. We are 90% through updating our email sending engine, and optimising our current search tools to increase overall platform speed - something which has come under strain with the recent doubling in platform usage within 4 months. This project will be completed by the end of March, and will see the speed of email delivery exceed previous levels with other improvements around reporting, even with the current and future demand on the system. Thanks for your patience.
So, here it is, our Minifesto for 2023. Once again, I thank you for your continued support and wish you all the best for the rest of the year.
2023: We’ll help you put your data to work.
Let’s turn back the clock a bit.
Back in 2015 I was in the boardroom at Novus Leisure, presenting our concepts for driving Christmas Bookings. It was early in the commercial development of social media channels and Novus had invested heavily (very, very heavily) in a complex Microsoft CRM. Our job was to build the database and then target the broadcasts. The retainer was high, and the strategy complex, but the rewards were amazing for both us and the client. Novus and its marketing engine ‘Late Night London’ could book out 80% of their Christmas capacity by the end of October.
We were surgical in our approach, sweating the existing database and building campaign mechanics that drove tens of thousands of new customers. We used web apps, Facebook apps, competitions, SMS, referral campaigns… basically every tool available to reach new customers.
Packages were created and sold, managers were briefed, showcases were created, past customers re-engaged. Marketing delivered the campaign across the business; the marketing team were untouchable. They were a machine and they were valued throughout the business.
We reported our progress on a weekly basis and often I’d be called in to present the ROI of the activity to the board and work through the next steps.
The marketing teams felt bigger. The approach was more lead generation and conversion, content was king and we drove people to websites to convert. The funnel of conversion was measured through a dashboard, and we filled seats.
Then GDPR came along and data took a bit of a back seat. Then the pandemic came along and everything went to shit. Then suddenly, data was at the centre of everything through track and trace, and the tech jumped ahead thanks to the mandated order and pay. At the time, it was forced and stuttered (mainly due to poor tech and implementation), but now with the consolidation and simplification of the order and pay space, operators are able to take the time and implement it correctly. Order and pay, and more specifically pay at table, becomes part of the hospitality tech infrastructure.
Today, there’s more content channels and more content types. Media is richer and content is more varied (depending on the channels). Results are harder to measure and impressions often do not convert to visits.
So what’s changed? Bringing your Customer to the heart of your business.
Now data is back in full force. It feels like we are getting back to those heady days, only doing it smarter. Technology is better connected, data flows more immediately and marketing is measurable. It really is all good.
We’ve been working hard on the Rewards piece and there's a blog incoming in the next few weeks on loyalty. The key for me is this… How do we get more of the customers interacting more frequently across more of the digital touch points?
In the last 12 months we’ve got more granular with our data. There’s more intelligence in the platform, and we now have historic data sets to help with insights.
Rewards, Tickets, Champions andTeams all are new Boosters that increase engagement and therefore penetrate deeper into your customer base. We’ll be rolling out some more.
The goal is more digital signatures, more touchpoints, more analysis. So, let’s get into it.
Activity to date: I appreciate that we are a quarter in 2023, but we’ve not been idle.
Product: On the 1st January 2023 we rolled out our new dashboard across our 300+ customer accounts. Last year was spent preparing for this, through building new database tables and storing historical data that can be used for comparison. We also built out a very smart EPOS basket data bridge that imports the items and spend associated with Loyalty, Booking, Gift Voucher, Single Use Voucher redemption and Order and Pay transactions. This is a game changer because it shows you the revenue delivered by the budget.
Shortly, we’ll be activating basket data for our Zonal customers and then with other POS providers.
Product: We’ve rolled out Toggle Tickets to help operators drive pre-visit revenue. The ability to sell tickets through Toggle was one of our most requested additions in 2022, and now it’s here. You can read all about it on our site: Toggle Tickets
Customer Success: We’ve completed our first Product days in Manchester and London. These events are open to any customers wanting to attend. We pick through current issues, and present and collect feedback on our plans. It gives the chance for the platform users to feedback and for our Customer Success & Product team to collect the nuances of how the platforms are being used.
Through the year, we’ll be running a further 10 sessions across the UK.
Product: We are rolling out Airship Rewards after running it in Beta for a month. We’ve further refinements to make including the introduction of adding to the mobile wallet, which will be rolled out in the coming weeks.
Airship Rewards is a digital profile that brings together your CRM in one simple place for your customers to engage with your operations. The premise is that they can always see their rewards, store their gift cards and jump out into your booking, contact, order and profile updates. You can learn more about Rewards here: Airship Rewards.
Customer Success: We’ve reinforced & reinvigorated our customer success division, adding half a dozen new heads in as many months. More heads means more hands and more hours available to our customers and, by example, our support response times are hovering around 20 mins.
Automated Journey Builder: With more people, we now offer to build your automated marketing journeys. Not just as a one off, but on an ongoing basis. Our CRM marketing experts will refine and create new revenue opportunities through SMS and email comms, thanks to both their industry expertise and fluency with our platforms. Chat to Customer Success for more information.
Technical Success: We’ve also added two heads to our technical success department, so the number of hours lost to integration issues or data bridges should start to shrink immediately.
Product: We’ve created a public changelog on both platforms to keep our customers informed of platform updates as they are released (and we roll out every day(apart from Friday))
What’s Next? There’s a lot of big stuff.
We are all very excited about this one, as it is all about data growth. The core of it is tried and tested, and at the end of March, we’ll be rolling it out. Champions gives you the tools to encourage your best customers to introduce their friends, family, followers and fans to your brand, for them to become your latest customers. If you’d like to be a guinea pig for Champions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Product: Audience Builder
There’s so much data available to enable smarter, more sophisticated targeting. With last year’s addition of Basket Spend and Room Booking and all the work around realtime PoP analysis, we want to rebuild our search into a new Audience Builder, which will form the basis of: search, reporting, dynamic content and segmentation. It’s a long burn, so it will likely unfold over 2 cycles (or 16 weeks in non-dev language).
A core feature of the work will involve tagging, which will then deliver new dynamic content in emails for better personalisation.
Partnerships: We are focussed on our integration SLAs. It’s a big challenge to manage so many partners, which is why we’ve expanded the team. Holding both parties accountable not only results in better and faster features, but it also protects the positive relationships that allow us to keep innovating together.
Product: Loyalty (round 11) We’ve been slogging this out for a while. Airship Rewards is launched and is going through some final refinements. We will then switch over all our customers who are currently live with our unique code (Single Use Vouchers) mechanic, to a lite version of Rewards which you can then choose to upgrade to the full functionality. Once this is complete, the SLA to activate new campaigns will reduce by 80%.
We want to remove ANY Friction between customer and operator, so we are refining our integration between the Rewards Profile (that people save to their mobile phone) and the mobile wallet. The smart thing about Rewards is that alongside ALL your current data, it works with your Loyalty Scheme or acts as a standalone scheme.
Success: In April, we have a Data Analyst joining the team to start answering some big questions. This is a real luxury role, but will allow us to get under the hood and in amongst the forty five million lines of customer data that lives within Airship; the trends, the patterns… and importantly, the missed opportunities! This will tie into new campaign reporting and future benchmarking - exciting times.
Success: We are adding videos to our support articles. We recognise that our users don’t always have time to read support articles, so we’ll be adding short content to our most popular articles, with a screen share of how to answer their question.
Success: In the summer, we’ll be rolling out in-venue point of sale to boost gift card sales. Think branded display units that will sit on the bar for a customer to simply ‘pick and pay’, or a display rack in the entrance as guests wait to be seated. Think ‘out of sight, out of mind’ but in reverse and in your face!
Success: We’ll be reworking our healthscores, in order to refine advice to help our users on both Airship and Toggle do more and focus on individual plans to help operators succeed.
Product: Dynamic Content Panels Combined with the tagging, these panels will automatically populate into emails to provide added personalisation into emails to drive engagement.
Success: In early September, we’ll be running our second ‘Tech The Halls’! The event will host our customers and partners, who will present case studies on the campaigns they’ve run throughout the year, in order to help everyone maximise every opportunity in the final quarter of the year.
Last year was such a special day, with some very talented speakers taking to the stage. If you have anyone you would like us to invite to speak about their area of expertise this year (or would like to put yourself forward), then please do drop me an email at email@example.com
Product: Smart Automations - Flow Builder This will be released in the autumn. We’ve done work in the last month to enable automated emails to be updated inline, meaning without having to reactivate them or rebuild search.
The Flow Builder will include our new audience tagging tool and enable smart journey construction to enhance automations. This will be able to run complex targeting to deliver booking upsells and better customer engagement. We’ve banged on about hospitality marketing like ecommerce businesses, and with the quality of data now available, we can finally deliver that mission.
The flow builder is important because it will increase automations. Driving up conversion by delivering context based prompts at the right time across your different revenue opportunities.
Obviously these are the main projects, we’ll also continue to refine current tools and fix bugs as they appear.
I hope that you’ve enjoyed the Minifesto. Please also feel free to get in touch with any questions or feedback. If you’ve read this far, drop me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line #Minifesto and I’ll pop you a thanks in return for your time & concentration.