For a business that began life in a leaky warehouse in Shoreditch, London, Swingers has come a long way in a short period of time. Just days after the brand opened its first site across the pond in Washington, D.C., RLI caught up with Co-Founder and Co-CEO Matt Grech-Smith to discuss the brand’s expansion into the US and how the business has grown since its inception in 2014.
CEOs and Co-Founders Matt Grech-Smith and Jeremy Simmonds launched Swingers as a five-month pop-up to see if a venue combining the elements of crazy golf, cocktails and street food could attract interest and be a success. It is safe to say, considering where the brand is today, it definitely can.
“We currently have three trading locations; two of these are in London, one in the city right by The Gherkin and one in the West End by Oxford Circus,” explains Matt Grech-Smith, Co-Founder and Co-CEO. “Then we have just opened our third location, which is our first in the US in Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C. and our next location will be in Manhattan, New York City.”
For many businesses, the effects of Covid-19 have caused them to alter, re-evaluate or even completely change their strategy moving forward, for Swingers it has simply reaffirmed their key objectives.
The company exists to entertain and provide hospitality, and after the last 12-15 months of people spending almost all their time at home behind computer screens, there is a real sense of urgency to get back out and start living life, enjoying experiences and making memories.
After building the business in the UK, the brand has now taken the first steps on its international expansion journey by launching a 20,000sq ft space in a central location in Washington, D.C. that is surrounded by a mix of hospitality venues, offices and residential units.
“It is an exciting space where you enter a ground floor bar and then go down a flight of stairs into a basement area that features two courses and four bars. The venue is stunning and the site features all of the Swingers trademarks including a clubhouse, street food and amazing cocktails,” says Grech-Smith.
Their next site is on course to open early next year in the Flatiron District of Manhattan, New York City and it will be a sprawling 23,000sq ft space that will be totally unique and unlike anything New Yorkers will have seen before.
Back in March, the company announced it had raised a further $20M of follow-on funding from their investor, Cain International for additional sites in other great US locations for Swingers that met a similar profile to Washington and New York in terms of sophisticated consumers and possessing a good nightlife culture.
When discussing the future of retail and how to engage customers, Grech-Smith feels that they must continue re-evaluating their offer and making sure they are giving their guests a really good experience that includes quality components. In the case of Swingers, it is great food and drink, great service and great value.
“After the last 18 months or so, people are keen to get back to socialising but I feel they are also very discerning about where they want to spend their time and money. To this end, we are always concentrating on our proposition and what we can do to enhance the experience for guests.”
Social media is a huge driver of the business as their venues are very photogenic, which is of course is a key way to gain traction on social media, particularly Instagram. An innovative way they have grown their social media status is by installing photo podiums in their venues. These ‘winners’ podiums have a special ten-camera rig attached that create an MP4 file that winners can then share on their social media accounts.
“While we are not driven by social media, we are acutely aware that a lot of customers are coming in and talking about our venue on social media. So what we do is give them lots of tools so that they can talk to their audiences about the experience they have at Swingers,” Grech-Smith explains.
The team at Swingers all work towards one goal and that is to offer people the most fun possible. This idea of making every element of the experience, from the service to the food, drinks and the golf world-class, is what separates them from their competitors in the market. Matt understands that people are trusting them with their night out so the whole experience is crafted to give people the most ridiculously fun night out possible with all these elements combined to make one truly memorable night.
Looking towards the future, growth is the biggest challenge for the business. Currently a small team, the company is growing rapidly so the challenges are to retain the level of communication and the individual touch on each of the venues.
“All the things you can do as a small business, we want to be able to continue doing as a larger business and with the team we have we feel the foundations are in place for the challenges that lie ahead as we continue to grow,” Grech-Smith concludes.