Launched in May 2001, Skiddle has grown to become one of the UK’s largest online ‘what’s on’ guide and a major online ticket agency. The site not only lists and sells tickets for events, it also offers users the opportunity to book hotels and restaurants, all of which are optimised based on the venue or town of the event.
Skiddle has been a leading light in embracing new technology in order to communicate with its customers and stay up to date with consumer demands for information and accessibility. The result is that customers and promoters alike are turning to the site to assist in finding or marketing events.
Initially working with the company on a consultative basis, Simon Dalley’s involvement with the operation became permanent when he was appointed to his now full-time position as Head of Marketing earlier this year.
In a Q&A with Event Industry News, Simon offers us some insight in to his own background, his work with Skiddle and the challenges he foresees in the coming year.
As Head of Marketing at Skiddle, what are your key responsibilities?
I’m responsible for all aspects of marketing the Skiddle brand and sub brands, including brand marketing, CRM and insight.
What would you say is your marketing specialism?
I’m an internet marketer first and foremost. I love that this medium provides such instant data about what’s working and what’s not, but I’ve had experience with most mediums over the years, having started out in offline marketing (as most of us did back then!).
One of my key specialisms is search marketing; I cover this area through my personal blog that is often quoted in SEO circles.
What have been the high points of your career to date?
I’ve worked in marketing all of my working life, both agency and client-side. I’ve worked with small start ups through to multinational brands, including most of the major automotive brands, some of the best known financial service brands and to my eternal shame [laughs], I’m partially responsible for those annoying We Buy Any Car ads, having worked as a Brand Manager for We Buy Any Car at UK Car Group back in the day.
It’s been a real privilege to work with the brands and teams I’ve been involved with over the years. Probably the best thing is seeing teams pull together and produce the magic when things don’t go as expected.
My highlights include working with Mercedes-Benz commercial vehicle team to produce credible direct mail offerings when everyone else went online, working on the brand campaign for We Buy Any Car, working alongside the likes of UKFast’s Managing Director Lawrence Jones and of course delivering outstanding improvements to Skiddle’s traffic, market penetration and revenues. We did this through consistent and sometimes cheeky campaigning, over which time the team has developed and the business has grown considerably.
What work have you done recently that you’re particularly proud of and why?
I’m particularly proud of the general strategy that we’ve implemented at Skiddle and that the marketing is purring along so nicely. Specifically, I’m pleased with the billboard campaign and the general “Don’t be left out in the cold” campaign we’re running for New Year’s Eve this year; I think this really sets us apart from our competitors.
I’m most proud that the whole business has started to get more involved with Skiddle’s marketing; I’m keen to make people see marketing as a function of the whole team and not just the marketing department. This can be seen from the feedback from the customer service team, through to the way R&D is orientating their workload and the consistency of message surfacing through the editorial team’s output. I’m especially pleased with the way everyone has taken ownership and got involved with the business’ social media.
What are the main challenges for over the next 12 months?
The events industry is really fast paced and Skiddle needs to remain at the forefront of technological and user trends in areas such as social media and mobile.
There is a trend towards self-promotion and social media channels such as Facebook pages. These represent both a threat and an opportunity for Skiddle in the coming year. Fortunately, as the first ticket outlet to create a Facebook Timeline integrated ticket shop, we’re in a really great position to benefit from these changing trends.
We’ve seen a huge growth in amount of visitors we get on mobile devices, from 10% in 2010 to 30% in 2012. This is a trend we expect to continue to see continue to grow and our development team are busy working on making elements of the website more responsive, the early data from their multi-variant tests is remarkable, suggesting a significant increase to revenue can be anticipated in the coming year.
In the last few years there has been a growth in the number of smaller competitors coming on-stream, largely due to the reduction in barriers to entry through some of the simple content management systems out there. Many of these are flash in the pan type businesses but we need to make sure the Skiddle brand isn’t tarnished by people’s perceptions of these cheap and cheerful brands that offer the world but have difficulty delivering.
Skiddle’s priority is to keep improving what we do for our core customer base, whilst finding new and exciting event promoters to get involved with.
It’s important that we communicate the stability of Skiddle in the market place and reinforce the message that Skiddle is in essence a tech business providing solutions to the live events sector.
Crucially, we protect our brand at all costs, and as we expand and adapt to the changing world of ticket sales we still remain true to our core values and in a way, that’s the biggest challenge!