StagWeb Celebrate 15 Years of Non-stop Partying
In 2002 one best man set about planning a stag do. Fifteen years and over half a million pre-wedding, party goers later (that’s a lot of paintballs and quite a few sore heads) and StagWeb.co.uk is regarded as one of the most innovative companies in its industry.
StagWeb’s founder Simon Denning is grilled about the company’s birth and growth to become one of the UK’s largest stag party organisers.
How did you get into the stag party business? Do you just really love paintball or was it the fancy dress?
I grew up in hospitality & was working in events so when a best mate asked me to be his best man I hit the internet to find high quality, proven, reliable solutions but there was nothing decent about so I set about developing the best service out there.
How did you start the business? Were you a one-man operation?
Yes, it was a party of 1, but I knew quite a bit about hospitality and great service so it was just a case of building quality & managing demand. I knew if I committed to that and an exceptional standard it would set us apart.
Where did the first stag party you arranged go to?
Nottingham, I can still remember they stayed at the Rutland Square Hotel, did paintball & karting.
Has the stag party industry changed much over the last 15 years?
Massively. At the outset it was a bit wild west, plenty of people promising the universe & delivering Uranus. As a pioneer we brought on new destinations, new activities, new entertainment & entirely new standards. In 2005 we were the first stag/hen company to become ABTA bonded so that we could offer our clients complete financial protection. Customers have changed as well, more than ever customers want new things & quickly.
How has StagWeb had to change to meet the demands of stag groups over the years?
We’ve always put the customer first, listening to what they really want and delivering to their preferences with a focus on reliability and quality. Our best teachers have been our clients, we’ve learned and improved simply by listening. We’ve also pushed the boundaries by creating new activities such as Hire a Castle, Bear Grylls Stag Survivors and Hen Parties on the Orient Express. We’re proud to offer more, we’ve always been in it for the long haul.
And you have a much bigger team now?
Yes, we’ve always grown sensibly and at our nerve centre in Bath we have 28 people which will be well past 30 by the end of the year.
You branched into the hen party market in 2005 with GoHen.com. What’s the biggest difference between (dealing with?) hens and stags?
The names. Joking aside, the logistics are similar though not exact. One gender tends to be more organised than the other (although I refuse to say which, I’m not brave enough to open that can of worms here). We’ve learnt that every booking is individual and personal, we never lose sight of the fact that this is a once in a lifetime party so we work hard to tailor all our weekends to suit the clients’ needs not just push products based on price.
How has being in business changed over the years?
Interesting question, principally there is much that remains the same, eg Do a great job, charge a fair price, focus on quality & value, keep the customer happy, measure, learn & improve. As long as we are consistently fluent in the basics then we learn as we go.
In 2015 the company became part of Groupia. How has this changed things?
We’re just totally professional, we always have been but refreshing a clear & simple client, supplier & staff centric philosophy about who we are, what we are doing, why & where we want to go; has just made the company even better. And in Groupia we have other strings to our bow; CompanyAwayDays.com, TeamsOnTour.com, StagWeb.co.uk, GoHen.com, GroupiaSchoolTrips.com.
What’s the worst misconception the press have about stag weekends?
This is a bit of a bugbear, media often portray single stags and hens negatively but that’s so far from the real/true picture. Almost all groups are just wanting to have a good time and zero hassle. Sure there’s the odd rare incident, but there will be in most leisure segments, it’s just stags & hens are often found guilty by association.
What’s the key to a great stag weekend?
Simple, … great people & great planning.
Stags can be hilariously creative, what’s the funniest thing you’ve known a stag party do?
The one that makes me smile the most is when a group put a vibrator in the groom’s case and he got pulled at customs. The groom was crushed. It’s on YouTube somewhere but it’s a top-drawer prank. It doesn’t always have to be elaborate, harmless simple pranks like that are priceless & it’ll be a hilarious story for years to come.
What’s your No1 tip for anyone planning a group trip to make things easier for themselves?
Plan ahead. Get the ball rolling early so you can make changes as you go. Rushing fun often leads to a lack of it.
If you were to go back to 2002 what’s the one piece of advice you would give yourself?
Enjoy yourself & spend more time with your friends, time goes so damn quickly!
So happy birthday StagWeb, we’ll be turning 15 this week (they grow up so fast!), come down and join us. Bring beer and/or cake. And here’s to the next 15 years, long may the madness continue!