In the pretty Hertfordshire village of Welwyn you will find the White Hart Hotel and Restaurant, a splendid 17th century Coaching Inn steeped in character, rich in history.
As it stands today, its 13 double bedrooms; atmospheric conference room; cosy bar with log burning fire and gourmet restaurant make the property undeniably impressive. Two years ago however, the story was very different. Neglected and unloved, The White Hart was in a sorry state and needed sympathetic restoration. Help came in the form of Piers Lyon and family, experienced restaurateurs and in 2003 they embarked on a two -year labour of love renovation project. The timbers needed replacing, and the interior required modernisation but with care, in order to retain the building’s historical significance.
In June 2005, two months later than planned, the White Hart was once again standing strong, proud and open for business. Marketing started in earnest in June 2005. Initial awareness was created when flyers were delivered by staff, inviting village residents to come and marvel at the finished result. When radio advertising failed to market to a wider geographic audience, Piers heard about DOR-2-DOR from the landlord of The Wellington, a neighboring watering hole.
In November 2005, 20,000 leaflets were delivered in the local and surroundings villages. Results were measurable immediately – a couple of days after a distribution took place people from that village began arriving; Piers said “We knew which villages Chris had targeted from the people who paid us a visit”. Once through the doors, having sampled the warm hospitality and auspicious surroundings, the project was sold. The White Hart retains its customers, and has attracted new ones through earnest recommendation.
Thanks to a combination of leafleting and building relationships with local companies the accommodation facility is at full capacity and focus is on marketing the excellent conference facilities. The multi faceted nature of this business means that the investment required to restore this slice of English heritage is proving very pleasing to the palate.
Piers Lyo said:
“Leafleting, with Dor-2-Dor got direct to the potential customers; was cheaper than blanket advertising and definitely kick started our business. It got people talking about us and we had made a very good decision.”