designmynight.com aims to capture Manchester's evening entertainment market
designmynight.com, a web site which claims to offer punters a simpler, more focused and more cost-effective way to enjoy a city's varied night life attractions, has opened its first operational base outside London in Manchester.
The company, which was established by Andrew Webster and Nick Telson in 2010, claims that its London service is currently receiving over 1.5m page views a month on the back of around 250,000 unique visits a month.
Webster told Prolific North that current traffic is also rising by 20% a month.
The company works on a 'freemium' model', with venues, organisers and operators listing their information for free but with an option to pay to enhance their listing.
Other revenue said Webster is derived from banner ads, event board advertising and increasingly commissions earned through bookings taken through the site, essentially an affiliate revenue model.
He declined to disclose the company’s sales figures.
Webster said they launched the service in London following a trip to New York where they were overwhelmed by the helpful local knowledge provided by the hotel's concierge and, once they were sober, they reflected as to why there was no such information available in their home town.
“We decided we’d had enough of the half-baked night-life websites and the constant hassle of planning a night out. We felt that what London needed was a site where you could discover and unlock the best, the new, the wallet-friendly and the secret night-life on offer. But also a website to help plan and book online and let the site do all the hard work so you could simply enjoy a cracking night out. That was our mission.”
So Webster resigned from his job as an investment and retail banking consultant for Accenture and set up with Telson.
Three years on, the company employs 13 staff and claims Webster, “no one else in London comes close to what we offer – and the market down here knows this. We have the most comprehensive information on venues in London, outstanding imagery to enhance the user experience and a simple and straightforward platform for the user to plan and book their night out.”
Webster said they chose Manchester after much research and “sampling night life around the UK.”
“Manchester was the clear winner for us – it has vibrancy, lots of activity and an overall ambiance that seems to us to fit nicely with our concept and offer.”
He acknowledges they will face local competition from a myriad of entertainment platforms including the MEN, Manchester Confidential and the soon-to-be launched Skinny, but he maintains there is no direct competition.
“The market in Manchester is very much like when we started in London, the established brands up there tend to be outdated and are not on trend. We're really excited.”
The Manchester site was soft launched just before Christmas as Webster wanted to ensure that the system was fully functional before going 'properly live'.
He has now recruited Hannah Cox to manage the Manchester operation and they are looking for a full time editor who will be supported by several paid contributors.
The content and listings for the new site will, for the foreseeable future, continue to be managed out of London.
Webster said that traffic in Manchester has reached - without any promotional activity to date - over 500 unique visitors a day and their ambition is that the number of unique visitors will climb to around 200,000 a month within two years.