Boost My Business throws a spotlight on a family in hospitality entertaining the internet during lockdown.
A family run business in Co Clare have come up with a unique way of drumming up business. They have been entertaining their potential clients with amusing videos.
Hotel Woodstock in Ennis has been closed for the best part of a year with the exception of a few summer months and Christmas. It's been a huge blow for the business as they had been expecting a bumper year.
"It was gearing up to be an absolutely massive year," explains owner Sean Lally. "We were into our fifth year of the operation here at the hotel. We're partners with the Choice Hotel Group and year on year we’ve had cumulative growth - we were just building it up."
"We’d do a lot of family functions, celebrations and weddings - every area we looked at was just getting stronger and stronger. Next thing come February/March 2020, it was like somebody pulled the rug from underneath us and the business just disappeared," he says.
Lally equates the fight against the virus to a war, "It's the closest thing to a world war, without any fighting."
But the family have plenty of fight left in them and are proving it by getting the word out to potential customers and '"friends of the hotel" by producing some fun videos.
"We are a small 67-bedroom hotel and we’ve always been conscious of how to make ourselves stand out," says Lally. "In the past we’ve done one or two funny videos and we’ve had an unbelievable reaction to them. We’ve definitely gotten ten or eleven weddings bookings out of the funny videos what we’ve done."
The Lallys have always put themselves front and centre of the marketing at the hotel to give guests the personalities they will be meeting, and the videos are an extension of that.
"I think it’s back to the old fashioned "céad míle fáilte" of Irish hospitality because people want to know who they are dealing with," says Lally.
"And we’ve a sign behind reception with our hotel motto - "Arrive as a guest and leave as a friend", he adds.
The videos the Lally’s have been making are reaching big viewing numbers with their take of "First Dates", starring Sean and his wife Elaine, has over 50,000 views. Son Oisin and daughter Caoimhe also star in the videos.
Elaine has been making videos of her own. She gives couples a virtual tour of the hotel facilities as they view the venue through a lens - her own take of wedding venue viewings during lockdown.
It’s not all fun videos though, during their down time the Lally’s have moved into the hotel and are gearing up for a summer re-opening, whenever that may be.
"We totally reorganised our website," says Lally, "and we're working with local attractions and designing packages with them to sell all Clare has on offer."
With no clarity on when the hospitality sector will be open again the Lallys remains optimistic about the summer trade. They are not taking any bookings for before May 1 and are prepared to push that opening date if needs be.
"We’ve had a lot more inquiries from multi-generational families for the summer and there's very few people in the summer now for one night, they're all three, four and five nights," explains Lally. "And they're traveling with their families, their siblings and their grandparents."
"I feel that the domestic market will be very strong during the summer," continues Lally. "Not everyone works in hospitality, there's huge pent-up demand, some people will be doing very well during the pandemic and haven't been able to spend the money so there’s a lot of that money has to be spent."
"I believe the international market will come back in the last quarter because like if you think about it, the majority of people around the world are going to be vaccinated. If they are vaccinated, I don't see why the international market can't open up again," he adds.