Getting to know Simon Tonge, Hospitality Sales Manager

Getting to know Simon Tonge, Hospitality Sales Manager

When did you start work at Newbury Racecourse?

I started working at Newbury in February 2015 and my first raceday was Betfair Super Saturday 2015 which was when AP McCoy announced his retirement after riding his 200th winner of that season.

What did you do prior to working here?

Prior to joining Newbury Racecourse, I had been at university at the University of the West of England studying Business Studies. Having been born and bred in Cheltenham, I developed a passion for horse racing and upon completing my degree, sought to get into the racing industry.

What was your first job here?

My first role at Newbury was as a Sales Executive with a specific focus around our raceday restaurants. My responsibilities included converting incoming enquiries, building relationships with our existing clients and finding new clients to come and enjoy the hospitality options we have. In addition to these responsibilities, I would work closely with our operations and catering teams to ensure we delivered memorable days within the restaurants for our guests.

What is your current job here?

My current role is Hospitality Sales Manager which sees myself head up the hospitality and dining team. I still spend a lot of time booking private suites and tables in the restaurants for our clients but I also spend time in the planning phase with things like forecasting with accounts and creating innovative packages and offerings with our catering team to ensure we offer a first class service to all hospitality and dining guests.

I am supported by a fantastic group in the sales team who all go the extra mile in ensuring our clients have amazing experiences from the moment they enquire. We have a brilliant team ethic and it is so rewarding when we have a big raceday with around 2,000 hospitality guests, who are all enjoying a great day because of the hard work we have put in beforehand.

What advice would you have for someone looking to get into a similar line of work?

My main piece of advice would be to be persistent and don’t be disheartened if you get turned down for roles. I had a handful of other racecourses interview myself when I had recently graduated and for one reason or another, didn’t take a chance on me. It can be easy to give up and settle for a role in an industry that you aren’t passionate for but I am glad I didn’t as I really enjoy working in an industry that I am passionate about.

I would certainly recommend trying to get as much experience as you can, whether that be while you are studying or as a casual member of staff just on racedays if you have other commitments, as racecourses are unique places to work and any exposure you can get to them will stand you in good stead for when you are looking to get into the industry.

What is your favourite part of your job?

I would say my favourite part of my job is building relationships, both with clients and with members of the team here. We have some incredible regular clients who I have known since I started and would class many of them as good friends now. Getting to visit them on racedays and to catch up with them is really enjoyable and I count myself lucky that we have such a great group of regular guests.

I have been lucky to make some great friends during my time here. We have a fantastic team currently but also many of my former colleagues remain close friends. I think that, especially during the summer months when we are racing every week, it is a testing job but to maintain the high standards we set ourselves, our team has to work closely together and rely on each other. This leads to us being a tight knit team and creates friendships between us all.

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