LEARNING CURVE | Tricia’s mission to get clients to Be Noticed

Social media, and other means, play big role in exposing businesses to the public, owner says

Tricia Wood, the owner of Be Noticed, which markets accommodation and conference venues, is in the process of changing the way she operates in the new normal
MOVING FORWARD: Tricia Wood, the owner of Be Noticed, which markets accommodation and conference venues, is in the process of changing the way she operates in the new normal
Image: SUPPLIED

Port Elizabeth resident and entrepreneur Tricia Wood used her experience in the hospitality industry to build a small business in 2018 called Be Noticed, which efficiently markets small and medium conferencing and accommodation establishments.

The Covid-19 pandemic has thrown a spanner in the works, however, and has had a huge affect on the tourism industry, forcing stakeholders and role players to adapt.

Even though it has been a difficult year for the industry, Wood is using the challenges to reinvent her business and come out stronger.

Please share some background on yourself and how the business was started?

I am the founder and operator of Be Noticed.

I have a passion for people and connecting people with people.  

I am a Port Elizabethan, and my love of the city and the region is evident in how I present myself.

I studied Travel and Tourism Management at NMU, and in 2018 I took on a six-month post as a part-time marketing management lecturer — imparting my knowledge of personal selling techniques to students.

I understand the blood, sweat and tears that goes into managing product offerings, especially where the owners are actively involved in running their own businesses.

I have many years of experience in the tourism industry and understand the challenges that one faces in this dynamic industry.

I strive to handle these challenges effortlessly and offer only the best service to all my clients.

In 2018, I decided to start my own business and that was the beginning of Be Noticed.

What is your core service?

Be Noticed started as a hospitality industry consulting company, marketing accommodation and conference venues.

My core service was direct marketing to an audience suited to the product.

Be Noticed created brand awareness and promoted its offerings by perfectly matching venues and properties to their ideal guests.

Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, the tourism industry suffered a huge loss.

People are reluctant to travel and conference, and my core service is in the process of changing to accommodate the current new normal.  

It is going to take a while to get back to where everyone was and from a face-to-face marketing point of view, no-one is sure what the new normal will be once the pandemic is under control.

Due to clients working from home, social distancing and busy Zoom schedules, the way I market has changed. (Let’s just throw in home schooling for fun!)

Face-to-Face has been pushed aside for now and social media, together with other means, plays a very big role in exposing your business to the public.

My core business may not be what it was pre-Covid but this is how one develops your business to attain your clients’ needs.

I am excited to see how Be Noticed will evolve in 2021.

Where was the idea born?

Passion and love for the industry. I reached a stage where I believed I had mastered the art of building strong and long-lasting relationships in the hospitality industry.

At the heart of Be Noticed are my core values of integrity, steadfastness and honesty.

I noticed a need for marketing of owner-run and managed accommodation and conference facilities.

Owners are so involved in running the establishment that they don’t have the time to build relationships and market their venues to potential customers.  

What makes your business unique?

I would say a personal touch, a collaborative approach and attention to detail sets Be Noticed apart and creates a personalised journey for all its clients.

If someone wanted to copy your business model, how would they start?

Be seen, be active, be involved and be flexible. Passion and patience will get you there!

Set your goals and stick to them.

What are some of the biggest inhibitors your business faced before getting off the ground?

Sourcing clients and financing my business to cover my monthly expenses.

Do you have any tips for budding entrepreneurs or new business owners?

Do your homework, research your competitors and have working capital available to kick-start your new venture.

Find a mentor who can give you honest advice and connect with others in your industry.

Honest advice and authentic support is important. Lastly, never stop learning.      

What are some of your biggest challenges in day-to-day business operations and your particular industry?

First, Covid, followed by home schooling! 

In my industry you have to be a people’s person because you deal with different personalities on a daily basis.

Managing my diary, confirming appointments, sourcing new clients, doing research and maintaining my budget.

Clients don’t always respond to e-mails, they cancel appointments late and rescheduling is a challenge.

Everyone is busy and you need to be creative in the way you connect with your potential clients.

What is the best advice anyone gave you on success?

Work hard, be kind, be honest and Be Noticed.

How do you measure or define success in your business?

I honestly love what I do. There is no bigger reward than a thank you from my clients.

Besides a thank you, a new client referral, a booking or confirmation at one of my properties and hosting workshops with results.

What are some of the best practices that have made your business successful?

Flexibility, hard work, collaboration, relationships and kindness.

I have had many days where it feels like I am not winning — it’s like looking after a crying newborn! 

You do everything the book tells you to do and your baby keeps on crying.

I can definitely add patience and perseverance to my list.  

And last but definitely not least, courage.  

In my industry you deal with different personalities, demands and disappointments. You need to get up, dust yourself off and move on.

What kind of advertising do you do?

I mainly focus on Facebook but attending workshops and networking events is a great way to advertise Be Noticed.

But more importantly for me, the best way of advertising is word-of-mouth because of the service I provide to my clients.

What is your company’s vision?

I would like to be a sought-after marketer by brand-building customer establishments.

Through vast knowledge of the industry and excellent service to business partners I aim to achieve this by nurturing long-lasting relationships of trust with my clients and at the same time market my portfolio to their target market.

What is your target market?

The public, corporates, tour operators and travel agents. It depends on each product I market and their ideal target market.

What have some of your highlights been in running your business?

I love people, and with time one gets to know your clients. Every relationship is different and I enjoy walking their business path with them.

The support of my clients, friends and family is what makes Be Noticed worthwhile. It’s rewarding for me to see my clients’ business grow.

Surviving entrepreneurship! Becoming an entrepreneur was never part of my life plan.

It’s a big decision to make and it takes courage to leave a consistent monthly income to build your own business.

Meeting other brave entrepreneurs and drawing inspiration from their journey. The support and willingness to share information is truly heart-warming.

How important is social media and an online presence for your business?

Even though I focus more on direct marketing, I believe a balance between social media, online and direct marketing will assist one with reaching a bigger market.

How many people do you employ?

Me, myself and I. I also use part-time contract assistants when the need arises.

Do you have any plans for expanding the business, and how would you go about this?

Yes! I am adding social media marketing to my portfolio offerings.

One can never stand still, it is a constant learning curve and you need to move with the times. There are so many ways to learn and constantly add to your skills.

How did you acquire funding for the business?

I didn’t have any money available to start my business. I had a small loan and thankfully didn’t need much to kick-start my journey.

Money I made went straight back into my business.

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learnt from your business journey so far?

One of the first lessons I learnt [and heard from other entrepreneurs] is owning your own business can be very lonely.

I found collaborating with like-minded individuals really helped me, and connecting with other business owners allows you to inspire each other.

You need to be self-motivated and disciplined. Get up in the morning and get dressed — even if it is an  admin day.

Stay balanced! Your office is at home. It is important to set boundaries and it is very easy to sit in front of your laptop most of the day.     

What have been the greatest challenges and advantages of running your business in a city like PE?

My advantage, PE is all about relationships.

Thankfully I’d been in the tourism/hospitality industry for a good couple of years before I started my own business.

We have phenomenal business leaders who are willing to guide and mentor new entrepreneurs.

I’ve had the best examples set by some inspiring business owners.

Time is one of my biggest challenges as everything relies on me but you quickly learn to work smarter,  and more importantly, to set boundaries.

How important has mentorship been to you in your entrepreneurial journey?

At that stage I was a member of Business Woman’s Association and applied for their mentorship programme at the start of my Be Noticed journey.

What stood out for me during my mentorship was the hard work that went into each mentor’s business.

Their life stories inspired me and I realised that not every new business will be a success but you need to get up, learn from your mistakes and move on. It is OK to not be perfect.  

To have a mentor who wants to see you succeed is priceless.  

What do you think are the three key traits of a successful entrepreneur?

Collaboration, perseverance and patience.

What do you wish people knew about your industry?

My industry is driven by passion, blood, sweat and tears.

I want Nelson Mandela Bay to be noticed as a leisure and business hub with various corporate and leisure product offerings to choose from.

Every day is different but courage and consistency is key.

“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.” — Charles Darwin.

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