Clockwork Marketing: 30 years hospitality insiders

Celebrating its 30 year anniversary, Clockwork Marketing’s owner, CLARE BUSHBY, talks about changing tourism over the decades and what the future holds for hospitality.

Clockwork Marketing

Celebrating its 30 year anniversary, Clockwork Marketing’s owner, CLARE BUSHBY, talks about changing tourism over the decades and what the future holds for hospitality.

Clare Bushby has spent her entire working life in the hospitality industry. Starting as a chambermaid and waitress, she was considered too young to be a hotel receptionist at the time. But by the time she was 26, she was marketing manager of The Palace in Torquay.

Spotting a gap in the market, where hotels weren’t making the most of the rich customer data they held in their property management systems, Clare founded Clockwork Marketing in 1992 providing marketing support for hospitality businesses. Clockwork’s first client was The Hotel Riviera at Sidmouth, owned by The Wharton Family, who is still, proudly, a client today.

Clare Bushby said: “My early experiences were working in family owned and resort hotels where there were set times for dinner, with formal ‘jacket and tie’ dress codes. Hotels boasted tea and coffee making facilities and colour televisions. One hotel had 140 rooms over three floors and one colour television on each floor that the manager wheeled between rooms daily – can you imagine?

“Back then there were a lot of manual booking systems, huge charts, pencils and rubbers – and it wasn’t long before the early property management systems were in use. I used to find it surprising how many properties didn’t really know what they had, or how to make the most of the data the new systems provided.

“The biggest asset a business has, beyond the property, is its customers (and the staff too). The foundation of our work was to understand who the customers were, to build a better relationship with them, and identify new customers. These insights came from the guest data held in their booking systems. Not only could we communicate with their existing customers, but also undertake some pretty clever work to reach look alike guests.

“The principles are still the same today, however the speed of change in marketing has been exceptional and a massive disruptor – we now have more digital marketing channels to communicate with customers than ever before, but the data is even more critical – and useful.”

With the 30th anniversary of Clockwork Marketing in July – the growth of the business has paralleled the growth in data-driven, evaluation-based marketing. But Clockwork isn’t just about data; it’s creative marketing campaigns appeal to guests’ emotional and impulsive desires and their need for travel.

“Our strap line is Colouring Travel Dreams and Boosting Bookings Since ’92. The data we analyse gives us information to make recommendations on how hospitality businesses can boost their bookings by improving their digital marketing. But the creative marketing we offer is really about selling the travel dream and positioning our clients at the heart of desirable travel through a combination of beautiful imagery and appealing copywriting.

“After price, people buy emotionally, on impulse, and what appeals to them in the moment. We have to understand and key into the emotional reasons people travel to a place and what the benefits are for our clients’ guests.”

Clockwork’s marketing support to the tourism industry throughout the UK has been a constant. The company has recently launched GuestNet, taking its 30 years of marketing knowledge online, for smaller hospitality businesses to learn marketing through a series of bitesize videos and create their own guest-focused websites, to boost bookings.

The Future of Tourism

Clockwork has always changed with the times. Now, people are concerned about the welfare of our planet in a way unseen before.

However, travel has a large carbon footprint and social media aestheticism is causing over-tourism in beauty spots around the globe, including the UK.

Clare concluded: “As we move into a new era, we must begin to think of hospitality differently, luxury and price alone will not entice tomorrow’s guests. They will expect a reciprocation of their green values. Hotels, B&Bs, Self-catering properties need to evolve.

“Clockwork has taken a small step supporting the Devon Wildlife Trust, helping to preserve the wildlife and nature in our region. Looking beyond this to the future, the business wants to support regenerative tourism projects, enhancing communities and ecological health and encourage others to do the same.”

Clockwork Marketing is a specialist hotel and hospitality marketing agency providing digital marketing, design and branding, website development and gift voucher software to clients throughout the UK. With 30 years’ experience working in the sector, they understand hospitality businesses in a way only insiders can.

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