Sunday, 20 November 2011

Belmore Court & Motel wins best Online Strategy

Last Friday night Mary and I attended the inaugural Digital Advertising Northern Ireland (DANI) awards in the Hilton Hotel, Belfast. We had been nominated in 3 different categories; Best Viral, Best Mobile App & Best Online Strategy.

Almost 200 people filled the function room at the awards and we were seated at a table along with Todds Leap and Creative Media. I think we were the only table West of the Bann.

The judges included;  Left to right Maurice Mulvenna, Professor of Computer Sciences at University of Ulster; Katrina Doran, Editor of; (back) Director Repknight Online Reputation Management, Ruan O'Tiarnaigh, Jill Culbertson, Co-Founder Navajo Talk; John Reid, Managing Director The Gurus Network and (centre- front) Naomh McElhatton, Managing Director Digital Advertising Northern Ireland.

After a great meal and a bit of craic Nuala McKeever took to the stage and managed to slag off most of the people in the room and tell some great jokes. Nuala then proceeded to announce the shorlisted companies. Anticipation filled the air while the noise from the audience decreased.

In our first nomination our Viral advert for the Best Viral featuring my 8 year old son, Lewis, doing a video tour of the Belmore Court & Motel was up against the Belfast Giants singing "All I want for Christmas" and Derry's Ledgendary Campaign. The Giants won and it was hard to complain because Mariah Carey tweeted about it and Sky Sports even featured it. We did achieve Highly Commended status.

The next award we were shortlisted for pitted us against lookaly and another company but it was always gonna be hard to beat the local Lookaly company. there service really is great. Once again we were awards Highly Commended.

At this stage we thought we were going to be the perenial bridesmaids. Our last nomination was for the best Online Strategy. This award reflected the best overall strategy incorporating pay per click, social media, Search engine Optimisation, etc.

I waited nervously on stage with the CIM Ireland and Alzheimers Society while the winner was announced. Finally our name was announced as winner and I was really shocked and just stood there with my Mickey Mouse hands in the air (that's another story).

The judges said "This best overall strategy has been given to a company that has engaged with all the online elements – including continuous developmenf of their website, SEO, PPC, Facebook, YouTube, Ecommerce, online advertising and PR … Showing a clear return on investment making a massive £10 for every £1 spent … direct website revenue now accounts for 40% of overall revenues and they’re listed no.1 on Google."

On collecting the award I was asked for the oppotunity to speak through the microphone. Taking advantage of this I thanked all the team at the Belmore Court & Motel, Bookassist Ireland and my wife Mary. I also thanked Naomh McElhatton for having the courage to organise these types of awards; it really is just the right time for them to happen.

The night went on into the early hours in the morning. As usual it was great to meet old friends and make new ones. Really pleased to meet Grannine Maher and her husband and catching up with Niall McKeown from ION


We retired to our suite (perk of the hotel industry) and slept well after a very statisfactory night. Spent the next day shopping in Ikea with a sore head. Looking forward to next year already.

It really was an honour to win this award and it was great that Bookassist Ireland were able to help me throughout the years and with the application forms. I look forward to continued success with them in the future.

The DANI Awards 2011 Winners

Best B2B Campaign: Equality Commission (iON)

Best B2C Campaign: Treat Ticket

Best Viral Campaign: Belfast Giants

Best Social Media (SME): Boojum (Mammoth)

Best Social Media (Corporate): Cool FM

Best Mobile App Campaign: Lookaly

Best Web Design: Todds Leap (Creative Media)

Best Online Strategy: Belmore Court & Motel

Business Person of the Year: Russell Moore

Read more:

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Happy Days are here in Enniskillen


The world's first annual festival to celebrate the work and influence of Nobel Prize writer Samuel Beckett is announced today. HAPPY DAYS will take place each year in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, where Beckett spent his formative years attending Portora Royal School.

The inaugural HAPPY DAYS, 23rd - 27th August 2012, is part of the London 2012 Festival (Cultural Olympiad) and coincides with the 400th anniversary of the founding of Enniskillen.

HAPPY DAYS is the first annual, international, multi-arts festival in Northern Ireland since the launch of the
Belfast Festival in 1962. As with the Edinburgh Festival in 1947, HAPPY DAYS will be a major cultural event
bringing diverse communities together, mixing local and international audiences and artists.

The Festival will present events of wide, popular appeal including:

  • the work of Beckett, with world and UK premieres of his major and lesser-known works;
  • the influences on Beckett, including music and comedy;
  • those Beckett has influenced, including Irish, UK and international writers, directors, actors, visual artists, musicians, comedians, circus artists and individuals prominent in their fields.
     There will also be a range of events reflecting Beckett's favourite sports.

The full HAPPY DAYS artistic line-up will be announced in April 2012. Some highlights of the 2012 Festival include:

  • directing and acting in Krapp's Last Tape, a UK & Irish premiere by a world acclaimed international Director;
  • singing Schubert's Winterreise, Beckett's most favoured piece of music. Ian is one of Europe's most in-demand tenors, especially in the genre of German Lieder.
  • will design a stage element (to form part of a Beckett production in Australia in 2013) which will be installed and publicly exhibited for the first time as part of HAPPY DAYS. Antony is renowned for his large-scale public sculptures such as the Angel of the North, Gateshead and Inside Australia,
  • 's kinetic artwork, Steenbeckett, an inspirational response to the role of film in our understanding of Beckett. Atom is an acclaimed film and stage director and winner of four major awards at the Cannes Film Festival. Steenbeckett is presented in association with Artangel.
  • World class writers Edna O'Brien, Alice Oswald, Melvyn Bragg and John Banville

HAPPY DAYS Founder & Artistic Director, Sean Doran said: "I am delighted to return to where my professional festival career began (Derry 1992) and where I had many rewarding artistic experiences as Artistic Director of the 1997 & 1998 Belfast Festivals". HAPPY DAYS is funded by Arts Council Northern Ireland, Fermanagh District Council and
 London 2012 Festival.

Arlene Foster, Northern Ireland's Tourism Minister, said: "HAPPY DAYS is a perfect complement to the wide range of events that already take place around the Fermanagh Lakelands. Culture is a key ingredient that sets Northern Ireland apart from competing destinations, and festivals such as this are crucial in attracting visitors. Innovative events help to raise the profile of a destination and I have no doubt this initiative has the capacity to grow to a level where it can attract overseas tourists. It will benefit the local economy by generating additional spend on accommodation, hospitality
and travel".

Chairman of Fermanagh District Council, Councillor Thomas O'Reilly said: "We are very excited about the inaugural HAPPY DAYS which includes a wide variety of arts and sporting events. Fermanagh is proud of its association with Samuel Beckett and it is fitting that this innovative Festival is taking place in Enniskillen, the County Town".

Ruth McKenzie, LOCOG Director of Culture (Cultural Olympiad), said: "HAPPY DAYS will be the only brand new and on-going festival premiering in 2012 and certainly the only festival in the world dedicated to one of the greatest world writers, Sam Beckett. With world class writing, comedy, music, and amazing scenery, Enniskillen is bidding to become one of the great world festivals".


Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Jumping for Joy!

AN eight year old boy’s take on his daddy’s business has beaten some of the most creative minds in Northern Ireland’s digital advertising industry to be short listed for a major award.

Young Lewis McCartney has become something of a star in his hometown of Enniskillen since he featured in the video to promote his dad’s business, the Belmore Court & Motel.

Father and son were both thrilled last week when the cute video viral showing Lewis giving his “lovely” guided tour of the Belmore court & Motel’s bedrooms, which has been watched by nearly 3,000 people on U Tube, was short listed in the prestigious DANI 2011 awards.

The P5 pupil’s video is up against the might of the Belfast Giants and Derry City of Culture in the Best Viral Campaign category at the awards. Visit to see his tour of the Belmore Court.

The inaugural DANI Awards in association with Invest Northern Ireland and Chain Reaction Cycles, aims to recognise the burgeoning creative and digital online media sector in Northern Ireland.

The ceremony will take place at Belfast’s Hilton Hotel on Friday, November 11 when a  total of nine awards will be presented but it’s way past Lewis’ bedtime so he wont be able to attend.

Terry McCartney, owner of Belmore Court & Motel was thrilled that his simple, low budget promotional video had impressed judges. “We are just a small company where every pound matters and we didn’t have a big budget to blow on a video. Lewis is always in the Belmore Court and we stay overnight regularly and the kids love it. We just thought if we could capture some of his enthusiasm about staying it might be infectious.”

“We didn’t work to a script and just told him to talk and tell it in his own wee words and he did talk -  non stop. He loved doing it and especially as he got a new big piece of Lego at the end of it. He has become a bit of star now with people coming into the motel asking if he is there. He is modest but he is loving it too.”

“We are thrilled that such a small company as ours has been short listed against such large organisations.”

Belmore Court & Motel has been shortlisted in a total of three of the eight DANI Awards categories. The company is also a finalist for the Best App and Best Online Strategy awards.

Naomh McElhatton, founder of The DANI Awards said: ''The judges felt the Belmore Court & Motel fulfilled all the criteria for the category and they demonstrated an understanding of how and why a viral campaign would work for them.

“The content was very relevant to their brand, the campaign hit their target audience, it was just the right length of footage and fitted very well with their family business ethos, aside from that it delivered results - following the coverage on Facebook and their own site - it was mentioned on over 30 bookings and other kids that stayed at the motel wanted to meet Lewis, the owners son who starred in the video!''

The Motel has enjoyed a superb year of success at major awards ceremonies where it has been recognised consistently for its attention to quality service.

Earlier this year Belmore enjoyed the distinction of being the only independent business in Ireland to pick up a Silver Award in the Green Tourism Business Scheme.

The motel also left its larger competitors standing when it was awarded House Keeping Team of the Year and runner up in the Receptionist of the Year categories in the 2011 Northern Ireland Hotel Federation annual awards.

And next month, the Belmore Court & Motel will be one of the finalists in the coveted Chartered Institute of Marketing Ireland Excellence awards; Best Marketing and Sales – Tourism and Hospitality.

Belmore owner Terry McCartney said: “As a small business up against much bigger companies, we are delighted to be singled out for success.

“Having all three of our entries shortlisted in DANI and also making the final of the CIM Marketing Excellence awards has topped what has been a very successful year for us. We really have a team and a product to be proud of.”