2019 represents another milestone in the journey of Ellis Salsby Ltd having been trading for 30 years. Ellis set the company up from home in 1989 with the first mobile phone not attached to a battery pack (NEC 9A for any techies reading this, was an amazing phone for its time…. google it!) as well as a Panasonic answerphone, top of the range 286 desktop and his dad’s fax machine. Even outsourced the ‘typing’ and when the fax machine packed up had to resort to going to the chamber of commerce offices to fax confirmations to clients and hotels.
It has been quite a journey… we have survived 3 recessions, a fire, loss of major contracts, one of which resulted in us having to make half our team of 24 (12 staff) redundant, 2 acquisitions, 2 deaths, a heart attack, marriages, divorces….and numerous babies….and we are still here having posted our best year last year. Clearly, we are doing something right but more importantly has been our ability to adapt to challenging situations. I remember the days when rather than laying them off, we had the entire events team on the phones generating opportunities when the incoming enquiries dried up. There were days when the phone did not ring….so we had to make it happen!
There is a danger with some of the smaller agencies…in fact some of the members that make up the AIEA that we rely too much on our ability to service the business rather than generating new opportunities.
Anyway, how times have changed, and things have moved on. With this has come evolution in the way we as an industry have had to adapt. I remember fondly flicking through the blue and green book for ideas and inspiration when we got a client brief. The power of relationships was king, and I remember well the venues that wanted to work with us and offered exceptional service to the clients. These were not the swankiest either. Who remembers the St Johns Hotel in Solihull when under Swallow Hotels had threadbare carpets throughout the public areas…. but the best Conference and Banqueting Manager for miles around.
Then the internet really took off and we all thought our days were numbered…. how wrong we all were. Don’t get me wrong…it took a few years of heartache to convince the clients that the internet provided great information, but they still needed the expert guidance of an experienced venue finder to interpret the information and explain the pitfalls of relying on this information alone.
The great thing about our industry is that it keeps evolving. The days of the boring functional square conference room being top of the client list is fading. The clients are more demanding and with so much information at our fingertips, expect us to immediately know the answer to everything. As I said at the beginning…if in doubt…google it!