In a two-part series, Coinslot speaks to a range of stakeholders in the industry and asks them to share their views on what has been a roller-coaster of a ride. What started out as a year of huge promise turned suddenly after the emergence of Covid, lockdown, Brexit, economic recession and a gambling review – 2020 has changed the entire industry landscape. There’s optimism, anger, criticism, frustration, good news, bad news – an interesting Christmas read for all, with one notable exception. The folk devil of 2020 will be clear to all of you pretty early on, although the heroes of the year are drawn more widely from across the community.
TOBY HOYTE SALES MANAGER SOUNDNET TOUCHTUNES
How will you look back on 2020?
Overall and in many different ways it has been a disastrous year. To an extent Covid has poured fuel on a fire that was already burning. It has made a lot of people question what they do and prompted them to look hard at their jukebox operation and explore the opportunities that exist in greater detail.
What, if any, were your highlights of the year?
It’s difficult to talk about highlights when so many friends and colleagues have suffered and continue to suffer. From a business perspective we have had a lot of interest from pubs with the resource to invest in top of the range jukeboxes which have a proven app. We have had interest direct from sites and I would say that the variable music fee that we introduced has shown its value. Following the opening of pubs in July the income figures through to September were in some cases exceeding those of 2019. There was pent-up demand and pub goers demonstrated how much they missed the pub experience and how much they valued music as part of that experience.
How have the events of 2020 changed your view on how you run your organisation, how we run our industry and how the various authorities run our country?
Covid has shone a bright light on all corners of our business. We have streamlined our operation and we are all working from home. In many ways I’m excited about the prospects for a leaner, levelled-up Soundnet Touchtunes. We have been working extremely hard to help our customers and it has been appreciated. I have been on the phone to every customer to understand their needs and done my best for people that in some cases I have worked with for over 20-years.
Covid, Brexit, The Gambling Review: what do you think will happen in 2021?
I’m confident and hopeful that by April pubs will be open and social distancing will be a thing of the past. Easter 2021 is going to be the new Christmas and I intend to have new product, a new way of doing things and a levelled-up Soundnet helping our customers really bounce back. The majority of operators who we work with also operate gaming equipment and we share their hopes for a positive and progressive Gambling Review.
If you had to pick a Hero(ine) of 2020 who would it be and who would be your folk devil?
The accolade would have to go to my customers for their stoical, fair and realistic outlook. In terms of the folk devil, it would be the UK Government led by Boris Johnson for wrecking the UK hospitality industry due to a lockdown strategy based on zero evidence.