The Digital Age, Moving our Business Online by H&R Times 2022

Monday, July 04, 2022. 10:00am
The Digital Age, Moving our Business Online by H&R Times

Self-Employment – A Scary Place at Times

Back in March of 2020 I sat in my office and began to wonder was this the end, the end of 22 years of hard graft, worry, success and looking to a future. The world literally stopped that month. The Covid crisis had reached every country in the world, and we were powerless to do anything. Grim faced politicians and medical practitioners were on our radio and TV stations trying to put everything into a context, but in reality, were as confused, uncertain and worried as most were. No transport, no moving outside a 5 KM limit, isolation, mandatory mask wearing, and we were to behave as if we had this dreaded disease. A total nightmare.

I felt despondent, scared and extremely worried. What could or would I do. I honestly was heartbroken and believed it was the end of my business.

Being self-employed a lot of the times is a scary landscape, everything comes back to you, you are responsible, you are your own master and success and failure are the bedfellows you share your dreams and concerns with.

It was suggested I consider going online. I had a semblance of online activity, but not in a serious way. It was done out of everyone has a web presence, so better join them. To be honest, I hadn’t a clue about how to engage in this mysterious arena.

Enterprise Ireland Trading Online Voucher Scheme

I approached my local enterprise board and was advised I could apply for a grant. I completed the necessary paper work and thankfully was successful in my application.

I then contacted a company called Digital MM and spoke with Anthony. He spoke in a language I was not familiar with, impressions, analytics, algorithms, all double dutch to me.

However, he assured me he was competent in this strange land and would ensure he could assist in developing a website that would be suitable for what I was wishing to achieve. We discussed future marketing efforts for the business and I agreed to go for it.

Over the next few weeks, Anthony came up with a design and concept that met with my approval, he arranged all the nuts and bolts of the website, got the programmes and tools that best worked for the style of the site, and ensured it all works seamlessly. We worked on a marketing strategy that would move Hotel & Restaurant Times into the digital age and focused on developing digital content that would support the hospitality industry in the same way as I felt I had achieved offline.

The Digital Age – A Positive and Bright Future Ahead

We gave the branding a little makeover and launched the new website. Within a few months I really began to experience and see the tremendous benefits of the online world. The site began to achieve great growth and interaction in a relatively short time. It is an entirely different world and I am still am learning, but I am beginning to get the hang of things. Fortunately, Anthony is a guiding hand and keeps me focussed. I’m sure there are times he gets frustrated and bites his tongue, but we are getting there. The important thing is the industry has embraced the online activity.

Over 10,000 website visits per month.

Our online stats have continued to increased month on month and due to the success of the website traffic (see I’m getting the hang of it), we moved to our own server to ensure our clients were able to access the site quickly and navigate at ease. 

Chef Table Podcast

We have lots of exciting things happening, one of which is the new podcast we just launched – Chef Table. This is something I am very excited about and we have great ideas for how we will use it to further promote the industry. The podcast launched episode #1 “Hotel, tourism, leisure, post-pandemic analysis” with John and James from Horwath HTL Global and episode #2 “teamwork in Carton House kitchens” with Executive Chef, Gary Rogers. Two very insightful conversations about the future of the industry and we received great feedback from the launch. Upcoming episodes in the Chef Table series will feature some of Ireland’s top chefs.

You can listen to the Chef Table Podcast on Spotify and YouTube and find regular updates on our website and social media.

A Bright Future for Hotel & Restaurant Times

So, the future is looking good and I am both happy and confident I have made the right decision for my business and securing its future. To date we are achieving results above my expectations, or to put it another way, ye of little faith, as they say. I see this as a positive of Covid, and can see how many others businesses have embraced this dawn with gusto.

I want to thank you all for positive comments, feedback, encouragement, and support I have received to date and ensure you I will continue to improve and develop the site with you, the customer and readers, in mind.

Cyril McAree

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