Following 18 months of lockdowns due to the Covid-19 pandemic, more of us have seen the benefits of digital technology than ever before. The Only Way Togo is living proof that taking things online can have faster, more efficient and more effective results than traditional methods. We speak to Managing Director Mark Hayhurst about the companies innovative offerings and how it is helping to transform the hospitality industry.
The main core of hospitality specialist The Only Way Togo’s business is Togo – the online booking system and marketing suite designed to make life easier. It’s offerings are wide and varied, with the aim of simplifying the hospitality sectors management solutions and creating one system to rule them all.
The Togo engine is provided to restaurants, pubs and hotels, although the innovative system can also sell vouchers, take pre-payments and pre-orders, and help with marketing via email, text and WhatsApp.
Then there’s the recent addition – a new booking engine called Spacebook which takes bookings for commercial space and deals, with appointment making features for artists, stylists and therapists.
Finally, a web and app development arm and we can build anything from a small website for an SME through to a complex app for a large global corporate.
Mark Hayhurst is the Managing Director of The Only Way Togo, and he tells us more about what the firm can offer its customers.
“We build beautiful high conversion websites that work perfectly on all devices,” he begins. “Our websites are fully responsive, so they look and function perfectly on all devices. Google prioritises sites that work well on mobile devices, so you’ll be found easier on searches.”
But that is not all, one of Togo’s unique selling points is the fact that it can tightly integrate all kinds of systems into a customer’s website in order to give their customers a seamless experience. These websites also pair perfectly with the Togo and Spacebook booking systems too.
“We take a solid brief so that nothing is left to guesswork,” Mark elaborates. “Your vision and our knowledge of the web make for creations that feel and look right the first time around. If you need a website as soon as possible, our team are ready to work with you to make that happen. No compromises to quality are made; we can work around the clock to get you the results you need.”
Then there’s the marketing side of the business, so once a customer has had the website of their dreams built to perfectly reflect their business’s goals and objectives, plus to appeal to its target audience, Togo can set about promoting the brand and the site to gain maximum exposure for the best results available.
“We offer a more bespoke service than our competitors,” says Mark, speaking of the key differentiating factors which distinguish Togo from its competitors. “Instead of trying to shoehorn them into our products we try to mould our solutions to fit the needs of their business.”
Togo’s marketing features are very easy, very affordable and very effective,” states Mark. “They encourage people to think outside the box and do things slightly differently.”
E-shots are an obvious offering that is easily implementable and highly effective. When customers book with a company via the Togo system, it will offer for them to join that company’s mailing list. With just a few clicks, the company is then able to send email correspondence to customers who have booked previously.
“Togo has a powerful email designer built-in, meaning you can design an eye-catching email within minutes. You can even quickly send customers your new menu or promotion,” says Mark.
Vouchers, sent with the simple touch of a button, are another benefit. Not only are they a great way to bring in additional revenue around holidays and special occasions, but they are perfect for bringing in new customers, too. Vouchers can be sent automatically by Togo’s system and can be redeemed with the simple scan of a QR code.
Promotional codes and online discounts can give previous customers an incentive to return and therefore maximise business. Promo codes can be shared via a mailshot, social media or even printed on the top of a business’s receipts to give a good reason for customers to come back soon.
Finally, events ran at a venue can be bookable in the Togo system – keeping track of them alongside regular bookings to organise everything in one easily accessible space. “Togo can even handle the payments and deposits, meaning events can be paid for upfront. Events could be anything from a comedy night to a special menu,” Mark tells us.
Being based in Halifax, West Yorkshire, has enabled Togo to gain a really strong foothold in the north and therefore it is able to give a much more personal level of service than if it had offices in London, for example. The company benefits from having clients throughout the UK due to some great referrals, as well as a large contract with a pub company, however its proactive sales approach is still focused heavily on the north, with clients ranging in size from small cafes to one of the world’s largest beer brewers.
It’s no surprise that the hospitality industry was perhaps the hardest hit sector last year when the Covid-19 pandemic struck, with people being forced to stay at home and companies having to close their doors. The last 12 months have certainly been a struggle for a lot of businesses within the food and beverage world as they attempt to recover lost revenues and get their operations running smoothly once again.
“Thankfully we were stable enough to ensure that we were able to be here for our clients right the way through the pandemic,” says Mark. “Since the lockdowns have ended, we have seen significant growth and that doesn’t seem to be showing any signs of slowing down. Our turnover has more than doubled year on year for the last four years.”
One of the positive side effects of the Covid-19 pandemic is that people have become more tech-savvy and more businesses have turned to focus on their online presence. Many people are now having to work from home and communicate more via things like Zoom. Mark elaborates on how this move to a more digital age has benefitted Togo enormously.
“We have seen a surge in online bookings vs phone bookings. They have gone from around 50% online up to around 80%. People now prefer to book online than use any other means. They are also happy to pay a deposit or leave card security when they book. Which means less no-shows and cancellations.
“We have also seen pubs now even taking bookings for tables, not just restaurants, and now that people have had the ability to book their table and know they have it for a couple of hours they seem to want to be able to do that and continue to do that. It was a facility that was previously used mainly only in VIP areas of clubs but now it’s becoming more mainstream,” Mark adds.
It’s not all about having a great product – Mark is quick to praise the dedication and commitment of the hardworking team behind the scenes at Togo. “Most of our top team are not from within the industry but they are great people that care about the work they do, and they genuinely have a desire to be the best,” he explains. “We believe that for a lot of roles you can train anyone as long as they have a great work ethic, honesty and integrity and we recruit on this basis. Obviously, all of our designers and developers came to us with a great amount of technical knowledge and creative flair in addition to the personal qualities we needed.”
Recently, Togo was rewarded for its diligence to the industry by being bestowed with the coveted title of Best Hospitality Booking Systems & Marketing Agency – Yorkshire in the SME News Northern Enterprise Awards 2021.
Now, Togo is “launching our consumer app very soon which will be an additional marketing tool for our clients, and we are looking to continue to expand our Spacebook product into more markets,” says Mark excitedly. “We have also recently finished a huge 18-month project for a key global client, so when we have got our breath back, we will be looking for another big corporate project to start that runs alongside our websites and booking engines.”
For further information, please visit www.togo.uk.net