Invest in marketing and staff training to survive, Ian Pegler tells ailing hospitality businesses

By Emma Eversham

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Hotel, Heston blumenthal

Ian Pegler at Stoneleigh Park, the events venue and hotel in Warwickshire that has seen an increase in bookings since his arrival
Ian Pegler at Stoneleigh Park, the events venue and hotel in Warwickshire that has seen an increase in bookings since his arrival
Former Little Chef chief executive Ian Pegler has revealed his top tips for turning ailing businesses around after saving the roadside restaurant chain and his latest project, events venue Stoneleigh Park in Warwickshire, from failure.

Pegler, the man who enlisted the services of Heston Blumenthal to help turn around Little Chef, believes investing in marketing and staff training, rather than cutting back in both areas could be the saviour for many businesses.

“Many people think you should cut back on marketing when you’re suffering, but I think the opposite.

“When I took over at Stoneleigh Park eight months ago it wasn’t doing very well, but I increased the marketing budget six fold, employed two new marketing people and three sales people.

“I cut the costs I believe aren’t core, but traditionally I invest in staff training and marketing. If you’ve got a broken business full of people who are down and introspective you need to upgrade the morale of your staff and involve them in the process as you move forward.”

Booking increase

Pegler’s philosophy is paying off at Stoneleigh Park, which hosts 21,000 square metres of indoor exhibition space, 250 acres of showground and a 57-bedroom hotel.

In the last eight months, events at the showground, the former home of the Royal Show, have increased by 25 per cent, which in turn has had a positive effect on occupancy at the hotel – Stoneleigh Park Lodge.

Bookings are up 18 per cent since Pegler took over, which the company believes is a record year for the business.

“If we have more events here we automatically fill the hotel,” said Pegler

“But we’ve also upgraded our communication with people who have stayed here and improved certain things, such as the food. Our breakfasts, for example, use quality local eggs, bacon and sausages.

“This is a budget hotel, but if you came here I’m sure you’d say ‘what a great place to stay.”

Pegler, who has also worked for Forte Travelodge and at Glazier’s Hall in London, also oversaw the redesign of Stoneleigh Park’s website, which he says has been made more ‘female friendly’.

“The people who book events are generally women between about 25 and 35 and so we wanted to appeal to them,” he said.

Related topics: Business, Venues, People, Hotels

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