12 Days of Business
Ashleigh and Michael, founders of Halo Business Consulting.
Rebecca Wayman

On The Second Day Of Business: The couple behind the North East's latest business consultancy

For the second day of Bdaily’s 12 Days of Business, we thought it would be great to chat to a local couple who have successfully created a business all of their own.

So, meet Gosforth-born-and-raised Ashleigh Donald - one half of the husband-and-wife duo behind Halo Business Consulting.

Based in Whitley Bay, Ashleigh now works with her husband Michael on this budding startup they founded themselves. So, continuing with Bdaily’s latest festive feature… Here are your two turtledoves.

Can you give us an introduction on who you are and what your company does?

“Having lived and worked in London for many years, we decided to transform our work-life balance to fit around our family.

“Our love of coastal life brought us to Whitley Bay where Halo Business Consulting is based, whilst representing clients on both a local and global scale.

“Halo was created as a result of identifying the need for cost-effective, personable and creative solutions for the hospitality industry in the North East and beyond.

“We felt that we could fill this gap by offering our knowledge and training skills to hotels, tour agencies and restaurants.

“As a husband and wife team, with more than 30 years [of] collective experience in global hospitality operations and marketing communications, we offer flexible support to businesses in the key areas of customer experience, operations, marketing and communications.

“[I’m] originally from Gosforth [and have] extensive experience as an in-house marketing and communications director, with eight years with Starwood Hotels & Resorts.

“In 2014, [I] implemented the pre-opening communications to launch Shangri-La Hotel, At The Shard in London [and have] also worked at some of the top London-based PR agencies including PRCO and The Massey Partnership.

“Michael is a senior hospitality professional with 15 years of experience leading the front of house teams in luxury international hotels and resorts.

“During his tenure with Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Michael led customer experience departments, conducted Six Sigma operation innovation initiatives and was part of the pre-opening task force for two London hotel openings.

“Most recently, Michael was the Reception Manager at The Goring in London, the only hotel with a Royal Warrant from Her Majesty, The Queen.”

What has been your biggest achievement of 2019?

“Launching Halo Business Consulting!

“We’d always envisioned setting up our own businesses and have spent many an hour brainstorming ideas whilst we’ve been out and about in various hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions to determine where the opportunity lay.

“Earlier this year, before launching, we undertook a thought-provoking branding exercise to underpin who we, what we call ourselves, what values we hold and how this is reflected in our visual identity.

“We came to the word Halo. A symbol of light and positivity, the psychology of the Halo Effect which is initiated during first impressions and, of course, its association with angels…and the North!

“From our colour palette which is rooted in a trusty blue with some fun and warm colours, which we feel really represents us, to our logo’s icons, which nods to the Halo Effect which is integral in hospitality and travel, we delved deep to capture the essence of Halo Business Consulting and the services we offer.”

If you could go back to the start of 2019 and tell yourself what you know now about your business, what would you say?

“Done is often better than perfect. Go for it, learn from your experience, adjust as you go and be open to new ways of doing things.

“Since our launch, we have been encouraged by the local industry support and have already seen new opportunities for the business to develop.”

What are your company’s plans for the new year (and decade) ahead?

“As we approach a new decade, we look forward to supporting businesses with everything from service culture change to international marketing strategies, leveraging the ongoing positioning of the North East as ‘open for business’ across the tourism sector.

“Whilst we live in a degree of uncertainty, the UK remains a strong contender for international tourism with VisitBritain forecasting a record spend of £24.5bn from overseas visitors during 2019, up from £22.9bn last year.

“Halo will also champion businesses that put sustainability and conscious travel at the heart of their values. The travel industry needs to lead from the front to minimise its social and environmental footprint.

“Since launching just a couple of months ago, we’re in discussions with a number of hotel brands and niche tour operators.

“We’re also excited to start working with a boutique Northumberland hotel from January 2020, to grow their reach throughout the UK and overseas.”

How are you going to celebrate Christmas this year?

“We will be spending it with about 20 family members in Bamburgh.

“Following the excitement of Father Christmas’ annual delivery, we’ll wrap up to brace the elements and head out for a beach walk to blow away the cobwebs before jostling for position around a collection of trestle tables and mismatched chairs to enjoy a traditional roast.

“An enthusiastic uncle usually prepares a quiz for those still awake following the overindulgence and then a cheese board appears and as if by magic, our appetite returns!”

Keep up to date by following @Bdaily’s hashtag #12DaysOfBusiness.

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