Interview with Staffordshire Ambassador Craig Wilkinson
Craig Wilkinson is a creative entrepreneur with a background & foreground in the hospitality, event, entertainment and experience industries. Craig has worked with some of the worlds largest brands with a focus on guest experience in the experiential industry.
- Tell us about your businesses and the links you have to Staffordshire.
I am based in Newcastle Under Lyme and am a Founder/Co Founder & Director of a couple of businesses within Staffordshire; Lunar by Niall Keating, The Great British Experience Company, Alberts Cafe, iZero Technologies as well as a couple of other businesses which operate in London and all over the UK; Funicular Productions & Coalition Event Services.
Each company operates across Hospitality, Events, Technology and in all cases are experience focused. I am also a fellow of the British American Project, a transatlantic leadership network across the UK & USA.
- Are there any new projects in the pipeline/in development?
Always! I have been fortunate to work with an abundance of fabulous people and projects. The projects I am involved with at present all offer great conceptual opportunity based around ‘experience’ ie. Modern Dining Experience, Immersive Theatrical Experience, Event Experiences. I believe that society will seek more and more from our social experiences and in turn we are frequently asked about partnerships. There is national and international scaling for some of the projects I’m currently involved with which we’re currently in development of.
- What are your thoughts on Staffordshire as a place to work, visit, invest? How important is the tourism and hospitality industry to Staffordshire?
I have been very fortunate to have lived & worked all over the world and having settled recently in Staffordshire I continue to be impressed by the county as a place to live & work. It is also a place I have invested in too from a business perspective in recent years – I’ll let you know in a few years how they fair! I jest, I see a place of beauty and of potential, I see people who are creative, passionate, hard working, entrepreneurial in their nature and a county that will continue to evolve and grow.
Staffordshire is a beautiful place steeped in history with quaint market towns, rolling countryside and areas of outstanding natural beauty to industrial cities like Stoke-on-Trent that are primed for investment and continue to evolve. The county itself has a vast amount of independent creative entrepreneurs who are creating world class products on a local and global scale; from creative artisan bakers to innovative packaging systems to leading tech.
The transport links are phenomenal, being centrally located means you can be in Central London from Stafford in 1hr 15mins by train or Manchester, Birmingham or Liverpool within an hour.
I live in Newcastle Under Lyme with my family and have been extremely impressed at the amount of quality schools, colleges and Universities on our doorstep, the likes of Keele globally leading the way in sustainability with its renewable energy that government and big business could do well to understand their achievements there.
I feel like Staffordshire has got it down as a place to live with great offerings in hospitality and tourism but we could certainly benefit from further tourism over longer periods to help boost areas further.
- Why do you think the work We Are Staffordshire is doing is important?
We Are Staffordshire as I see it are connecting the Staffordshire business community with each other but also externally shouting about us too, that is vital for our county to help promote us on a national and global stage.
Whilst we are busy making our businesses great, to have an organisation like We Are Staffordshire focusing on our collective PR can only bring benefit to all within the county making it a place of progress and prosperity for many years to come.
- You spoke at our last Ambassador event. Tell us about your experience of this. Do you think these events are valuable for Staffordshire businesses to attend?
It was a superb experience. It was fantastic to meet other businesses, to hear of their successes and to share the hard times too. I think it is always important to share both as it felt very real and enabled everyone in the room to empathetically connect as we all have them! Some businesses had more experience than others so whether a start up or whether established for years, I would actively encourage anyone with a business in Staffordshire to attend, to share, to learn, to step outside of your industry and to experience each other as we share this beautiful county and couldn’t do it without each other.
- Why would you encourage businesses to sign up to be Staffordshire Ambassadors?
We all live in this beautiful county, most likely; it is our home, the home of our business, our workforce, our customers (maybe). To have an organisation like ‘We Are Staffordshire’ promoting us outside of our county is a tremendous opportunity for all businesses to showcase their work but also the events offer us an opportunity to share, to learn, to connect, to understand what is happening around us and to grow. In recent months I have seen the work of ‘We Are Staffordshire’ bring to light our county in some very important spaces from showcasing different businesses to shouting about us in Parliament! Stepping outside of our respective industries for me has always helped me to bring something back to my industry too, by understanding the world around us can certainly enlighten us and in turn enrich us.
Did I mention it is Free to sign up!