In the spotlight: Anthony Kelly

Susie HarwoodBlog

A self-confessed marketing geek and SITE’s 2019 member of the year, Anthony Kelly started his marketing career about as far away from the world of events and incentives as you could get – in heavy engineering and logistics. After a move from Scotland to London, he took a marketing role at incentive specialist agency Penguins, where he discovered he had a passion for incentive travel. When Penguins was acquired by DPRG, Anthony headed up new business marketing, before leaving in October 2020 to set up his own business, Measurable Marketing.

How long have you been involved with SITE GB and what’s your role on the board?

I became a member of SITE GB while I was at Penguins and have sat on the board as marketing director for the past two years. I built SITE GB’s website and help support on the marketing and communications alongside my day job. I am also co-chair of SITE Global’s Digital Transformation Taskforce. We are building a digital platform that will place SITE Global in a better position for the future – we are future-proofing the association.

Tell us more about Measurable Marketing. And will you still be involved in the incentives market?

I have always wanted to run my own business. When I was at university, I did actually run my own business. I am a fully qualified swimming teacher and coach and ran a swim school for over a year and a half that taught over 300 kids. The swim school was successful, but as a business it wasn’t as successful. I made many mistakes and learnt from them, and that then gave me the appetite to run my own business again.

I worked for lots of small to medium sized companies after I finished university and learnt a lot during that time. Working in marketing for heavy engineering businesses, they thought I was the guy with the crayons – they didn’t really understand marketing. So I spent eight years trying to prove the value of marketing, and really focused on the measurable side and how to get a return on investment and make them see the benefit of marketing. I quickly realised that where I could add the most value was on the digital side as that was the easiest way to measure.

I loved my five years at Penguins and DRPG. Mark at Penguins and Dale at DRPG were amazing bosses, and so supportive. They inspired me to want to be a boss and be as successful as they were. When Covid came along, I bit the bullet. There were so many people out there needing marketing help and asking for support and I couldn’t do it on top of my full-time job. I went holiday to Malta and when I came back, I handed my notice in and luckily enough Dale said, “I’ll be your first customer”. It was really nice he had the faith and support in me. It’s great to still work with the amazing team at DRPG – now I get the best of both worlds.

My clients are from across the board – I initially just thought it would just be MICE, but I am also working with a skin clinic, a landscaping product manufacturer and a HR consultancy. On the MICE side, I have DRPG and I am still heavily involved in SITE and talking to a couple of other potential clients in the sector.

What do you get out of being involved with SITE?

Being on the SITE board has always been really good for my career, my personal presence and my networking. It supported Penguins and raised the profile of Penguins as an incentive travel company. It gave us clout with our clients at the time, because we had someone on the board of the only industry association dedicated to incentive travel. The networking opportunities are great – being part of SITE GB enables you to build really great relationships with suppliers. On a personal level, it has been really good for my confidence and for speaking opportunities. The community spirit within SITE is also amazing. I have made many lifelong friends and travelled the world to SITE events.

How did you feel when you were named SITE Member of the Year 2019?

It was totally unexpected and amazing to be recognised in front of 750 industry professionals.

I know the amount of work and the number of hours that some people put into the community. So to be nominated, to even be considered for it, and then to win it, was an incredible feeling. I was very proud and humbled that people are as dedicated as they are, thought I was worth of that prize.

How do you think the pandemic will change the incentive travel sector? 

Covid has forced our industry to adopt and adapt. Our industry had historically been very innovative with the experiences, but not so innovative with the technology they used and the way they do things. It was all very traditional. Our sector DMCs and agencies have been forced to communicate in new ways and to survive and try to thrive in an environment that is totally alien to them, and I think that will develop further beyond the pandemic.

We’re seeing agencies and DMCs doing virtual incentive programmes or destination tours. I don’t think they are going anywhere – I think we will start to see those becoming part of the pre-qualification prize and part of the communications campaign. For example, if we know there is going to be an end prize of a trip to Italy, then part of the teaser campaign will be a virtual Italian cooking experience. Or if you go on a safari, and when you are there a baby rhino is born, six months later you could show them the baby rhino’s progress virtually. I think these virtual experiences will start to be weaved in to make our pre-comms and post-comms far more engaging and interactive.

If you could get on a plane right now, where would you go and why?

I would go to either Nashville or Cape Town. Nashville for a party and Cape Town because it’s amazing. The wine, the people, the place – it’s just a lovely city.

Describe your dream incentive…

I went to the SITE Incentive Summit Europe in Verbier and it was the most amazing experience. We stayed at the W hotel, there was skiing for those that wanted to, we had fondue on the top of a mountain overlooking Mont Blanc and liqueur tasting – it was incredible, and I’d definitely do that again.

And finally, what are you most looking forward to once the threat of COVID has finally passed?

Getting together again, going to the airport, getting on a plane and meeting the SITE community again. Being at Imex Vegas or going to a SITE event. I am also just really looking forward to being able to enjoy somebody’s company in a pub and have a drink and a chat as normal. And hugging people!