Spotlight on Dylan Lazarus, St Christopher’s Inns

Name: Dylan Lazarus

Job Title: Head of Digital Marketing

Company: St Christopher’s Inns

Founder Member Since: 2003

I think that the aftermath of Covid-19 will see young people embrace their freedom to explore, to travel extensively and work remotely, to seek communities through shared interests and values – and that successful players in hospitality can ensure that they’re facilitating the opportunities for people to experience this

Tell us a bit about your role and how it supports the business?

I’m ultimately responsible for our brands’ content across all digital platforms, capturing new audiences and ensuring that we’re effectively exhibiting all of the brilliant products and experiences we have to offer across Belushi’s Bars, St Christopher’s Inns, Flying Pig Hostels and our other brands.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

Prioritise working well over working for the sake of appearance. Identify the environment, the tools and mechanisms required to get the best results, and then apply it to yourself and to your team where possible. This creates a happy work environment, inevitably making teams apply themselves more eagerly and more creatively. 

If you were not working in this sector what other industry would you have pursued a career in?

Sports. But marketing a best-in-class sports bar brand is a pretty close fit!

What are the emerging trends within your sector and have these changed since Covid-19?

Younger travellers’ access to vast digital resources and preferred social media platforms has made them far more discerning and selective with how they design their experiences. With so many options available, customers are looking for aligned values in addition to the expected product quality. This has become increasingly evident in recent years with positive responses to environmental initiatives, to increased efforts to create inclusive and safe spaces and events. 

What is coming up for your company in the next 12/18 months?

Right now the immediate focus is on getting back to pre covid numbers, and thankfully we are performing ahead of our forecast, even though it’s still early days. We hope to be back sooner rather than later, however there are a number of hurdles still to overcome, particularly regarding UK accommodation and a lack of inbound visitors as well as touring agents until 2022.

Separately, we are continuing to invest in the business product including innovations such as our booking engine, app functionalities as well as driving new markets we have established and consolidated in recent months, such as domestic travel. We are also still looking for new sites across Europe and are excited to say we have a few in the pipeline. Fingers crossed that there will be more to follow on this front!

As an association what one thing do you think we have done that has made a real difference to our members during the crisis?

BETA has really done well in bringing together the industry with one voice, sharing important information, and maintaining a united front during this difficult time.

Covid-19 has had a huge impact on our industry, what is the one thing that you have learnt personally or professionally during this time?

On both a personal and professional level, I’ve learned to embrace a level of serenity while surrounded by uncertainty. What else can you really do? Turns out the way to cope with months of unclear and contradictory rules, regulations, budgets and behaviours, was to embrace the uncertainty, plan flexible frameworks for most eventualities, and then ride it out as best as you can. I feel like it served me well, and I hope to be able to apply that kind of calm control throughout the rest of my career.

What are your crystal ball forecasts for the period ahead and how quickly do you think your business can recover from the pandemic?

There are so many people out there – particularly older teenagers and young adults – who are chomping at the bit, ready to travel and explore and party and engage with the world after such a long period of serious constraints. Our business is perfectly positioned to offer them the environment to do just that, so if we manage to position ourselves correctly, business should bounce back in a big way!

What would you say our biggest challenges and opportunities are as an industry currently?

The biggest challenges are obstacles to travel and opportunities, and I’m concerned we might see the consequences of stifling political decisions over the longer term.

How do you think Covid-19 will change our industry (if at all)?

I think that the aftermath of Covid-19 will see young people embrace their freedom to explore, to travel extensively and work remotely, to seek communities through shared interests and values – and that successful players in hospitality can ensure that they’re facilitating the opportunities for people to experience this.

Find out more about BETA founding member St Christopher’s Inns here

Published 4th September 2021