As the nationwide lockdown took hold in late March due to the global Covid-19 pandemic, Rochdale entrepreneurs Eddie Daniels and Aftab Ali of Booking Online Ltd – the global leaders in live reservation systems for party rental companies were extremely nervous.
The events industry which is the lifeblood of the digital marketing and software firm came to a grinding halt. Industries such as party planning, weddings, events and festivals, bars, restaurants and schools suddenly shut resulting in shockwaves for their clients, after an already difficult winter trading period. But for businesses like Booking Online Ltd, there were no mandatory shutdowns, only promises of furlough cash to help small firms survive during the crisis. The management team refused to panic, and instead did what they do best – innovate!
Booking Online Managing Director Eddie Daniels said of the difficult situation, “As an industry largely made up of self-employed businesses, the impact of COVID19 restrictions was devastating. Very few businesses were eligible for any financial support and the period were the industry is most active was locked down. Our client base was put into a very difficult situation as hundreds of businesses turned to us for support and guidance.”
The first few weeks of lockdown were particularly difficult for this multi-award-winning business. Eddie, alongside co-owner Aftab Ali, were forced to take action. Mr Daniels who was expanding the US branch of the business had to make an emergency return to the UK, and their team of 18 began working from home, whilst Aftab and a small core team continued to work from the office working shifts to minimise physical interactions.
Behind the scenes, the management team kept a close eye on government guidelines, lobbying MPs and crafting marketing strategies to help their client base adapt to the new climate.
Aftab Ali said, “Our industry is very sensitive to weather conditions, health and safety revisions, new product trends and ever-changing technology, so we are used to thinking on our feet and adapting to new situations.”
As May arrived, the hard work and round the clock shifts began to pay dividends, with the development of new marketing strategies such as ‘Stay at Home’ parties, Time buffer tools to allow for cleaning between rental periods and true contactless digital disclaimer system (first of its kind) we’re rolled out to their global audience. They even formulated their own EN1276 approved anti-bacterial cleaners exclusive to their clients – supplied at cost.
By June, their staff were able to return to the office as restrictions began to ease – the demand for their covid19 friendly systems rapidly increased across the world, especially in the US and Canada. The company broke many online sales records in June, closing 300% more sales in one month alone compared to 2019.
Eddie Daniels said, “We’ve been working incredibly hard behind the scenes, developing new systems and products to allow our customers to survive and thrive through this uncertain period. We have invested in huge chunks of development at zero cost to our customers and committed to a comprehensive development plan that will continue to keep our business at the forefront of this vibrant industry. We know that our client’s success is our success and that is what drives us forward.”
In July, 16 weeks after the UK locked down came into effect in an effort to control the spread of the coronavirus outbreak, Booking Online have seen event bookings jump from a global low of just 800 events, to 67000 and climbing. All as a result of the Booking Online Ltd willingness to commit to investing in new solutions and working with their clients through this changing landscape.
Aftab Ali said, “It really is amazing. We are a close-knit team that pulled together when things looked very uncertain. Confidence in our service and abilities, with decades of industry experience allowed us to come together and find a new lane for us, and our clients.”
Founded in 2011, Booking Online Ltd – IAAPA Brass Ring Award Winners have grown to provide websites and online booking systems to over 3500 event rental business, processing over 2m bookings valued at over $640m, across 14 countries.