Matt Grech-Smith

Episode 44 Matt Grech-Smith
Swingers, The Crazy Golf Club

If you think ‘pop-up’ is a cheap and cheerful way of testing a business idea, then this week’s guest, Matt Grech-Smith, might just challenge that.   

Matt is the co-founder of ‘Swingers, The Crazy Golf Club’. Their pop-up covered 7,000 square feet and took the best part of half a million pounds of investment. Luckily, their genius combination of crazy golf, cocktails and street food has led to two even bigger, and permanent sites, in the City and West End of London.   New York is next on the list. 

But, as you’ll hear, Matt and his co-founder Jeremy, have had several roller-coaster, ‘do or die’ moments. This includes a ‘slightly anguished’ conference call discussing whether or not to sign a hefty lease before they’d got planning permission on a 18,000 square foot site.  

All this from a man who doesn’t see himself as an entrepreneur, but is obviously great at grabbing opportunities, particularly in immersive, experiential hospitality. 

Episode 38 Miranda Martin
Independent Hotel Show

MIDWEEK BONUS EPISODE – Although this podcast is aimed at anyone who loves food and drink it has a natural slant towards people who work in or around hospitality.   

And If you listen to these conversations regularly, you’ll have noticed that certain issues keep cropping up. So as well as chatting about these issues, and trying to get people to think about them when choosing where to spend there money, it’s pretty awesome to also be able to give some advice as to how as an industry we work together.  One way we do this is to meet up at shows and listen to speakers or brainstorm situations.   

So In this episode we’re going to look at some of those issues and touch on what topics are going to be discussed at the Independent Hotel show this month. 

So for example,  words like ‘craft’, ‘artisan’ and ‘boutique’ have been borrowed by bigger brands, giving the impression that they are as bespoke as the little guy. But actually, if you listen to my chats with Joel from Bad Hand Coffee, or Pete from Bakehouse 24 or Claire from Chococo, you’ll realise they really aren’t.    

Online Travel Agencies  – known as OTAs in the trade – are another one. They’re great when you want to book a trip or room within a couple of clicks, but tough for the small hotels at the other end, who pay big in commission.   

Oh, and then there’s Trip Adviser. Don’t get me started!   

Instead let’s meet Miranda Martin, who runs The Independent Hotel Show, which takes place in Olympia, London on Tuesday 15th and Wednesday 16th October.   And if your inspired or irritated by any of the topics in this conversation, you can dive deeper by popping along to the show yourself, or I’m sure we’ll be touching on many of these topics again in future episodes of the podcast.  Sign up for my weekly newsletter at humans of hospitality .co.uk. 

Episode 34 Dhara Thompson
Sail Boat Project

This week we’re learning about how to move food around planet earth via just the power of the wind.  Awesome produce, better for the environment, direct from the producer to the consumer, delivered by the wind.  I’m going to take you back in time, when beautiful tall ships criss-crossed the sea to deliver foods we couldn’t grow ourselves. 

You might think I’m describing the 18th or 19th century. Actually, I’m only turning the clock back by a few months, when a former herring logger called The Gallant sailed serenely into Newhaven, with a cargo of olive oil, almonds and sea salt.

This programme is about the amazing groups that have an impressive vision:  to transport food and drink across oceans(and to our plates) in a way that is not only kinder to the planet, but – in the case of Sail Cargo South East  – also supports community groups who benefit from being out on the sea…. Plus they give hospitality businesses like The Herb Kitchen brilliant stories to share about their wind-powered ingredients.  

You’ll hear from Dan Cuss, co-founder of The Herb Kitchen later in the programme.  But first we meet Dhara Thompson, co-founder of Sail Cargo Southeast and the Sail Boat Project based in Sussex

Episode 28 Simon Tolson
Rumsey Holiday Homes

Simon Tolson has had his fair share of highs and lows to get to where he is now in hospitality.  

An early high point was his first paid day as a fisherman. Since the age of 3 he’d wanted to fish and he felt like an astronaut when he stepped onto the deck…. But several years later, now married and with a mortgage, he had to switch careers.  He left the sea for a surprisingly different job – selling printers and photocopiers for Pitney Bowes. 

That led to a new high, because the sales skills Simon developed not only worked for office equipment.  They came in handy when he turned his attention to holiday homes. It was the early noughties, and there were generous tax breaks if you were renovating a property as a holiday let. Simon and a colleague began to build a new business, offering holiday homes as  promising investments. 

So far, so good.  But then in 2007, everything changed…. 

In this programme you’ll hear how Simon worked his way out of the prolonged low that followed… And how, despite challenging odds, he’s now the proud owner of Rumsey Holiday Homes, with beautiful views of the sea and the occasional chance to fish