An album broke records, a little book took off, and a stalwart of Beacon joined the fold
25 years ago, our Customer Experience Manager, Jane Murray, joined the company - and what a journey it's been. In today's post, we celebrate this great achievement and take a look back at some of the key events in Beacon's history.
It’s hard to believe that it’s been 25 years since 1997 – a year that brought us many memorable moments in popular culture. On the publishing front, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was released by Bloomsbury after they paid first-time author JK Rowling a £2,500 advance and printed a mere 500 copies. In the film world, Titanic made waves as the most expensive film ever produced at the time, costing an eye-watering $200 million. And Oasis broke records with their third album Be Here Now, selling over 400,000 copies on the day of its release and 8 million by the of the year.
Here at Beacon, we were also celebrating our own very important event, as this was the year that we welcomed Jane Murray to the team. Jane is now our Customer Experience Manager and today, November 4th, she has been with us for an impressive 25 years!
In that time, a lot has changed - both in the world and at Beacon. But one thing has remained constant: Jane's dedication to providing excellent customer service. From resolving complaints to going the extra mile for our customers, she has always put their needs first. We'd like to take this opportunity to thank her for her dedication and hard work over the years and celebrate everything she's helped us achieve.
So, to mark this auspicious occasion we’re going to take a little trip down memory lane and look at a few of the many Beacon milestone’s Jane has witnessed. However, before we do – here’s a little background information.
In 1967, five independent hoteliers from Cambridge, Chester, Kenilworth, Ripon, and Torquay sought to work together to generate referrals, maximize their marketing budgets, and increase sales. Together they formed Interchange Hotels of Great Britain and within weeks of this partnership forming, a further six independent hotels joined the group. In 1978, the group elected to trade under the brand name Best Western Great Britain and effectively became an affiliate of Best Western International in the US.
Best Western, and later Best Western Purchasing, had a Head Office in Kingston Upon Thames and a strong presence in the south of the UK. Meanwhile, a separate hotel group, Consort Hotels and their purchasing arm, were headquartered in York. Their customer base primarily covered the north of England and Scotland. And this is the company that Jane joined in 1997, way back when the Spice Girls ruled the airwaves.
1999 – The aforementioned two businesses were operating successfully but realised that they could hit even greater heights if they joined forces. Therefore, they decided to merge and become one company – Interchange and Consort Hotels. The new company would have a much wider customer reach and could offer a greater variety of services.
2000 – Beacon was launched with the name created from the ‘Be’ in Best, ‘a’ from and, and finally the ‘con’ from Consort. This was also the year that we launched our fantastic loyalty scheme, Powerpoints, giving customers the opportunity to earn as they spend with qualifying suppliers. We also produced our first printed supplier directory, which was aptly named The Source.
2004 – This was the year that this website was launched, featuring The Source as on online directory. Hopefully, you’ve got www.beaconpurchasing.co.uk bookmarked but if not, make sure you do as we’re regularly updating it with market insights, news and supplier info.
2006 – During this year we launched a partnership with the accommodation rating arm of the AA. In addition, Beacon Direct was launched with the strapline “a one stop shop for all your housekeeping needs”. It was an online platform aimed at BW members and AA guest accommodation properties to order branded items and consumables.
2007 – This was a big year for us, as we formally launched our tailored purchasing solutions for group and multi-site businesses. This strategy really paid off, as our clients loved the fact that we could customise their purchase experience to fit their needs and still save them time and money.
2009 – As part of Beacon’s sustainability pledge, in 2009 we launched our award-winning virtual hotel - the Green Hotel. This innovative initiative promoted ways that customers could run a more sustainable business model and we’re still focused on developing ‘go green’ strategies to this very day.
2010 – Carrying on with our sustainability theme, we developed several new green initiatives in 2010 and encouraged over 80% of our customers moved to paperless billing. We also launched Beacon Online (powered by Procure Wizard), which was a simple web-based portal where orders could be placed from an online catalogue of participating suppliers.
2011 – In 2011 we diversified into the care sector. This was a brand-new market for us, and we quickly learned that the sector had very different needs to hospitality. We sourced a new portfolio of suppliers specifically for care homes and immersed ourselves in the sector to help us identify new areas where we could add tangible value. We're proud to say that by 2013 we had business relationships with over 800 care homes across the country, and we're constantly expanding our service-portfolio to meet the needs of this growing market.
2013 – We’ve had a lot of different visual identities over the years, but in 2013 we finally settled on the Beacon brand that you know today. The brand was based on the idea of light and guidance, which we think is fitting for a company like us that prides itself on its friendly, consultative way of doing business.
2016 – After being outsourced to a couple of specialist providers for most of Beacon’s existence, our Central Billing service was brought back in-house to Beacon. This helpful function collates all your Beacon supplier invoices and consolidates them into one single statement. We then collect this from you by direct debit and make payments to your suppliers on your behalf. Your dedicated Account Manager will also provide a dispute resolution service by querying invoices, requesting credits and managing disputes as quickly as possible to save you both time and money.
2019 – Following on from the above milestone, a new Agresso Central Billing platform was launched in the March of 2019, and this is the system that continues to delight our customers today.
2020 / 2021 – As we all know, a major worldwide health incident had a massive impact on the global economy. However, as it’s a day of celebration we’re going to gloss over this and move on to a far more positive event.
2022 – Beacon was acquired by Entegra, a division of global services company Sodexo, and the largest food group purchasing organisation in the world. However, it’s still business as usual – we’re still the same Beacon you know and trust – only now we have the backing of a company with over $20 million of global purchasing power.
So, that wraps up our whistlestop Beacon history lesson, but we'll finish by reiterating how proud we are of Jane's 25-year service with the company and how we look forward to many more years. We know that Beacon would not be where it is today without her integrity, mentorship to the team, and her ongoing commitment. Thanks, Jane!