Getting back into the swing of things.

28th Jul

What’s your professional background and what made you decide to set up PlayPro?
We actually had no previous experience of running a business. I was a production manager of a document scanning company and Jimmy was a project leader at Siemens. So it wasn’t a pre-planned thing. We had been friends since school and were losing touch slightly so we decided to have a catch-up at a local driving range. Having a drink afterwards we saw a shipping container and thought it would be good if we could put a golf simulator in something similar, so we could practise all the time and charge our mates to use it! The idea just grew from there, really.
How did you develop the systems used in your simulators?
The systems and software are either imported from the US or developed by computer programmers here in the UK. We had no experience in software development so we thought it would be best to outsource to the experts! We have been learning as we have progressed, and we now know what works and what doesn’t. There are a lot of options out there, and it is about choosing the best systems for our clients, which I believe we have done.
What kind of customers do you have – is it mainly corporate events or a broader mix? It’s not just for golf buffs, is it?
We have a wide range of customers. Our main audience is corporate events and exhibitions, but we have also worked with Premier League football clubs and Super League rugby clubs. We are often hired for team-building events and even set up at weddings and rock festivals, so we are very versatile!
The best thing about it is that it is suitable for all abilities and ages. We run different competitions to suit everyone, so everyone has the chance to win a coveted PlayPro trophy.
Before the pandemic hit, how many events did you organise a year?
The pandemic came at a bad time for us, as it did for many others; we had survived our first year and found our place within the market. Our second year was about pushing it to the next level and building momentum and we were well above our targets for 2020. We already had 15 events booked in for the year, including two events at Silverstone and others at well-known global organisations. This was just in the first quarter of the year so I believe we would have been doing around 40 events this year.
Covid-19 has been devastating for the events and hospitality sector – how has it been for you during lockdown and what plans do you have for starting up again?
Yes, it’s been very tough. Our industry ground to a massive halt. Pretty much everything was cancelled so to have all of these events planned and hotels booked, to then be suddenly cancelled was difficult to deal with at first. There is still a lot of uncertainty in our sector so we are still in limbo, but we have been putting things in place so that we are ready to go as soon as we get back to some sort of normality.
The hardest part has been having to work from home with my wife doing the same and our five-year-old boy running around! It’s been a madhouse, but lots of people are in the same boat.
We have been using our social media channels to keep growing our brand awareness and have been in touch with our clients to check on how they are doing. We have also implemented new safety measures for future events.
If businesses need some entertainment for their staff returning to the office or to attract their customers back, we will be ready to go!
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BusinessWorks Hull & East Yorkshire summer 2022

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