Status Page:- Joshua Dugdale in conversation with Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng LIVE STREAM

At 1 pm, we will be hosting a discussion between the Founder of Hostology Joshua Dugdale and Kwasi Kwarteng MP, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. They will be talking about the events industry and what government can do to support the sector. Will cancellation insurance be provided? How can the science base with piloting as we emerge from lockdown be improved? How can the wedding sector’s engagement with the government be improved, and when might we see a Minister for Hospitality?


Status Page:- Kwasi Kwarteng and Paul Scully answer questions from the “forgotten” wedding sector

It was brilliant to hear Hostology‘s Joshua Dugdale putting the wedding and event sector’s questions to both Kwasi Kwarteng, the Secretary of State for Business (BEIS) and Paul Scully, the Minster for Small Business (Tourism?). As Kwasi Kwarteng noted; “the people who want to get married are being very adversely affected… a very special time for family and friends”.

Let’s make sure we hold them to their promise of clear, transparent and frequent dialogue going forward. We desperately need that.

Catch up with the highlights of their discussion here:

Status Page:- Let’s Reignite Your Marketing Together – An interview with Kelly Chandler


This week we interviewed wedding venue consultant Kelly Chandler about her motivations, the commonly asked questions she receives from venues, and post-COVID marketing advice. Kelly also discussed her upcoming “Reignite Your Marketing Course” which is being hosted in The Collective here.

1. What drove you to become a wedding venue consultant?

After more than a decade running my independent wedding planning business for couples, I couldn’t ignore the call of several venues I was bringing client weddings to.  I started to get venue management teams to ask me to support them in understanding their couple more, in better marketing themselves, in refreshing their overall offering, and ultimately in bringing in more sales.  I started the venue consultancy organically, responding to those initial 3 country house venues and how I could support and help them be better. I’d not intended it to become my main business focus but as demand grew and the response and results I generated from the advice and training, it seemed this was an area in which I could really make a difference. I’d often been frustrated as a planner working in a great range of venues,  seeing missed and untapped opportunities, and 5 years later I still adore supporting teams to seize those opportunities, thrive, and grow in their own bespoke ways.

2. What excites you the most about working with venues?

I absolutely love the variety of wedding venues out there in the market. Couples really are spoilt for choice in terms of the places they can choose to host their wedding and the facilities, settings, and utterly unique features they have. I consider it a privilege to work with the teams who run venues, often family businesses, sometimes multi-generational enterprises with a strong connection to the land, the house, the property. It’s a privilege to be invited into the inner sanctum of a wedding venue business and really support that business and its key team in its growth goals, those goals often being very varied, with a legacy as custodians often playing a big role.

3. What is the number one problem/question you are asked by venues? 

Invariable this is around wedding bookings growth – often I’m asked ‘how do we get more enquiries?’ – although this opens up a big can of worms that I often look at. Many times when I get to dig and delve into the business, it’s not an increase in enquiries that we actually need.

4. When you take on a new client, what is the first thing you look at refining or updating?

When I take on a private consulting client, it’s a very tailor-made service and is approached very individually for each client depending on their stage of business, team, and their reasons for seeking consulting.  We may well look at their shop window and website a great deal and the journey they are putting their customer through and invariably there will be elements of that process that need refining. Other times we may be looking at their sales process and show round experience, we’ll almost certainly make some tweaks or refinements to how they are marketing.

5. If you could offer venues one piece of advice now that restrictions are easing and events are beginning to be held again – what would that be? 

Not to be tempted to default back to the “same old same old” but to challenge things, keep some of the newer practices you may have implemented if they suit the team.  Also to really spend the time before things get up to full speed operationally to streamlining, improving systems and parts of the sales and customer process that can suit your couples but help you and the team to work more efficiently and more happily.  This isn’t always the most glamorous part of running a venue but especially given how many events you will be hosting in a shorter spell you need to be set up to cope and those businesses who haven’t set good systems may undo some of the good they have worked so hard to build reputationally if they slip in service

6. You are leading a marketing course in The Collective, focused on reigniting venues marketing – who is this course for?

I’m really excited about leading this course; this is for all members of a venue team with a vested interest in good marketing. It will be of most value to those team members whose primary responsibility is marketing to attract the right wedding enquiries.  Many of my private clients lead small teams where lots of the team including ownership/senior management have a marketing remit so benefits will be gained here too.  In particular, returning team members who may need to re-engage with their focus after time on furlough will gain lots and newer colleagues joining the team as you are rebuilding will be ideal for this 4-part live training series for ambitious wedding venues.

7. What will venues gain from joining ‘Reignite Your Marketing’? 

Venues will benefit from time with me and other industry colleagues to challenge their existing marketing and help with getting organised and ready with a dose of excitement and clarity in their new marketing plan.  I’ll be helping them get really clear on their ideal client with a practical focus on how to best reach them both in the short term and long term, with a focus on quality over quantity.  The course will consist of four weekly, one-hour webinars as well as bespoke assignments for each session. The training sessions will be live so there will be time for those all-important questions and for you to get my support “in the moment”.

8. What’s making you excited about leading this course?

I love empowering teams with a do-able plan so that they can go and take targeted action that reaps clear demonstrable rewards.  Right now we’re at an exciting time where we have a blank sheet to go forward and create success as never before have we had this kind of situation of a reopening after such a challenging and tough spell.  I’m excited about bringing a collaborative group of venues who want to be their best venue and team selves to go forward with confidence and make the most of the boom that’s starting to kick off.

Reignite Your Marketing will run from 19th May – 16th June.

To get organised, empower your team, and Reignite Your Marketing, sign up for Kelly’s Course here.  

Status Page:- Recruitment and Retention in Hospitality: A view from our founders

The hospitality industry is currently struggling to recruit suitable talent into the deluge of jobs that are available. As such, we thought we’d ask our founder venues for their thoughts and top tips on recruiting new team members during this difficult time.

  1. What has been the hardest thing about recruiting new members of the team? 

Joshua Dugdale from Wasing Park said: ‘People seem to have found other jobs. Hospitality is not at the top of people’s lists it seems. Brexit also means that lots of suitable applicants are no longer in the UK!’ 

Harry Dearden from Pennard House: ‘People are still on furlough and not wanting to go back to work. All hospitality is trying to recruit at the moment with higher demand, and fewer European workers. Also, people have low confidence in the sector, fears that the country will go back into lockdown means they don’t want to leave their existing jobs for a new one. If we do go back into lockdown, any new employees couldn’t be furloughed.’ 

Samantha Vaughan from Dewsall Court: ‘It is an employees market with so many jobs available after what appears to be a mass exodus from the hospitality industry. Teenagers are still keen to grab the ‘as and when’ jobs and the office-based roles are also easy to fill. However, the entry-level ranks of the kitchen team or similar roles are much harder to find. Another issue is retention. I know of other hospitality businesses which are struggling to keep the staff because there is too much pressure on the existing team to carry out the work to the expected standard. Too few people to carry out too many roles.’

  1. Where are you finding the ‘pockets of talent’ to fill team vacancies?

Joshua Dugdale: ‘We mainly recruit from Indeed and The Caterer, as well as local social media sites. Linkedin is not ideal but we are throwing everything at it.’

Harry Dearden: ‘Struggling to be honest! Generally, word of mouth has been good. We have had applications from employees at other venues that have gone bust.’

Samantha Vaughan: ‘We feel pretty lucky that much of our team have stuck with us and furlough has been a godsend in that respect. For the roles that needed to be filled, we have used Indeed and Social Media. The most gratifying thing we have found is that brothers, sisters, sons and daughters of existing staff are applying. It has never been more important to nurture, support and look after the team, just as they are looking after our couples, clients and guests.’ 

  1. What are the best companies to approach for different roles? 

Samantha Vaughan: ‘Indeed, although it is tricky. They are looking to monetise everything nowadays and so it is hard to find good applicants without a budget to promote the job advert. On top of that, there appears to be a science to how things work with Indeed in that reopening a paused job doesn’t always mean it will be shown, you may have to delete and then repost in order to get the algorithms working for you. They do have persistent account managers and when you are struggling to find applicants they will help and advise.’

  1. Have you thought of any innovative ways to recruit new team members? 

Joshua Dugdale: ‘Not innovative but looking like we will have to pay a bit more. The key problem seems to be the late shifts.’ 

Samantha Vaughan: ‘I’m nervous about using pay as the main incentive since this will affect the overall price and therefore will contribute to inflation in the end! I talk a lot about culture and incentives in both the advert and the interviews. This is the overall motivating force for someone at the moment. Yes, pay is important, but the quality of life, work satisfaction and being part of something that makes you feel like you are making a difference overall is paramount.’

  1. What is the number one thing you look for in a team member? 

Joshua Dugdale: ‘Personality, integrity, and willingness to graft are probably top characteristics in my book.’ 

Harry Dearden: ‘Honesty, personality, commitment.’ 

Samantha Vaughan: ‘How they will fit into the vibes of the overall team. The team is everything!  Discussing their idea of ‘team’ is useful in interviews: it is all very well knowing what you are looking for but asking the right questions in order to sniff out the clues as to whether someone is right for the role is the key. I often refer to the cogs in the wheel: if one cog breaks down then the wheel will struggle to turn. Also, I think the ability to work autonomously is important. I say that if they are empowered to do the role and contribute their opinions etc to the overall Dewsall world, a lot of pressure to carry out that role well is put on them but it is within a very supportive and friendly – dare I say fun – team which often means that that pressure isn’t a misery but rather the sort of positive stress that contributes to your overall sense of self-worth.’ 

Next week Hostology will be hosting our monthly webinar where we will be joined by David Sheen, Public Affairs Director, from UK Hospitality to discuss the issue of recruitment and find out what you can do to increase your chances of finding great talent. Join us on Tuesday 15th June at 12 pm here, or RSVP now by clicking the events tab in The Collective.

Status Page:- Join Our June 2021 Webinar

We know many of you will be sat in on the edge of your seats waiting for the Government to release their changes to the roadmap today. No matter the outcome we will be here for you.

Tomorrow we’ll be discussing the latest industry updates, including today’s anticipated announcement on our next steps for the 21st June unlocking. We’ll also be hearing from UK Hospitality with their thoughts on current recruitment issues, and from the CLA on ARG grants – lots for all, do join us!

With expert guest speakers:
David Sheen – Policy Affairs Director, UK Hospitality
Dr Charles Trotman – Senior Economics and Rural Business Advisor, CLA
Stuart Owens – UK Weddings Taskforce
Jessie Westwood – #whataboutweddings

RSVP now in The Collective:

Recent Posts


Testimonials /

“Hostology brings everything in to one place, increasing the efficiency of our event managers, while at the same time creating a great platform for our customers to use.”

Harry & Georgina Dearden, Pennard House
Testimonials /

“We now spend much more time with each client, meaning we can offer an even more personal service. This is what we have been waiting for since we opened in 2010.”

Phil and Susie Godsal, Iscoyd Park
Testimonials /

“Hostology has carefully thought through how a tech solution can not only make the event management process smoother, saving in time and admin, but can also provide an enjoyable work flow for the client.”

Joshua Dugdale, Wasing Park
Testimonials /

“The systemising, streamlining and efficiencies are a game changer for our business and equally will make planning the wedding logistics less ‘dry’ for our couples and their guests – it is a win, win, win!”

Jane Robinson & Samantha Vaughan, Dewsall Court
Testimonials /

“Hostology is a fantastic platform that brings the many elements of organising bespoke events under one roof. It has transformed the organisation of our business, saved many staff hours and made us far more efficient.”

Phil and Susie Godsal, Iscoyd Park