Meet Victoria Searl, Founder at Hospitality Data Analyst Company: DataHawks

DataHawks provides marketing intelligence to the hospitality sector, empowering marketers to make smart decisions. We organise, analyse and monetise the data of hospitality brands and MarTech businesses who serve the sector, surfacing millions of pounds of opportunity by identifying and profiling key customer groups and trends.

The in-depth analytics and subsequent marketing intelligence enables us to share actionable insights for brands & businesses, which deliver greater ROI and revenue. In just over a year of operating, DataHawks has surfaced over one hundred million pounds in opportunity for our clients.
DataHawks | LinkedIn

How did you come up with the idea for the company?

I was a hospitality marketing director for many years and grew increasingly frustrated at seeing other functions being taken far more seriously, and treated with much greater respect. I founded DataHawks to empower marketers with insights that drive six and seven-figure sales uplifts – and help them claim their seat at the boardroom table.

Marketers can and should be strategic in their role, but all too often are forced into the ‘mould’ of what hospitality think marketing is: lots of visible activities like poster making, photoshoots and getting flyers printed rather than being instrumental in meaningful data-driven, revenue-driving strategy.

Through observations made in my 27 years of working in the hospitality industry, from pulling pints to board-level decision making, I could also see that many businesses are literally leaving money on the table, by not collecting, analysing and then using data to drive their strategic plans. Instead, I saw decision-makers using ‘gut-feel and presumption’ to inform decisions. Data answers so many questions and provides such important insights that will empower businesses to be more resilient and to thrive, even in challenging and changing times.


How has the company evolved during the pandemic?

I established DataHawks in April 2020, just one month before the pandemic really hit here in the UK. Despite this and its impacts on customer-facing sectors, we have already worked with numerous well-known brands such as Pizza Pilgrims, Leon, Turtle Bay and Tenpin UK to name just a few.

What has emerged during the pandemic is a need for some sectors to do things differently. This awful episode has highlighted, for example, how vulnerable some hospitality businesses are to economic shocks and I think this has created a renewed sense of determination among forward-thinking operators to engage with their data more meaningfully and hopefully to empower their marketing departments to understand and use their data.

I do believe in the wake of the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, that approaching marketing differently and embracing data in the hospitality sector will be vital to the survival of hundreds of brands – if not the industry at large – and I think this realisation is now happening across the sector, catalysed by the impact of the pandemic.

At a broader level, the pandemic has created a shift in consumer behaviours and brands are keen to understand these shifts and the changing priorities of their customer bases. In short, in a time of huge uncertainty, we’ve seen increasing numbers of brands seeking certainty through data and the work we can do with them. So in a way, the business is actually growing and our message is being heard and heeded by more and more in the sector as a result of the disruption the pandemic has caused.

What can we hope to see from DataHawks in the future?

Our service is proving hugely popular within the hospitality industry, and I feel confident we’ll have many more high-profile brands working with us in the coming 12 months. I’m also really excited about the growing number of MarTech businesses that serve the hospitality sectors, such as Order & Pay platforms, who are now taking on our services.

We’re enabling them to better demonstrate the value of the data their platforms glean, adding extra value to the proposition for their clients. It’s incredibly fulfilling to know that DataHawks is not just empowering hospitality brands but also the wider hospitality marketing ecosystem with marketing intelligence.

Never one to sit about and driven by my strongly held belief that data can offer game-changing insight, answer a multitude of questions, and provide the basis for real resilience for businesses, I am also working with a partner to develop a tech solution for brands that will allow them to benchmark their marketing performance against other comparable brands. This product has already received interest from over 70 customer-facing brands and I hope it will launch in late 2021.