Joanna Goddard is passionate about the events industry and building solid relationships with clients. As head of Sales and Marketing for Leicester Conferences Joanna is committed and driven to provide the best for her clients and represent the brand to its full potential. We decided to ask her a few questions about her experience and here's what she had to say to us:
1. Tell us about your professional experience within the industry so far?
I fell in love with the hospitality industry in 2006 when my career began as a Receptionist in a hotel and conference centre. I relished the opportunity of being in a customer facing role, believing that a smile and lots of enthusiasm was the key to success! I held a variety of roles, developing my knowledge of sales, marketing, yield management and the hospitality industry as a whole. In August 2013 I had the pleasure of joining the College Court team prior to the venue opening in the October.
2. What have been your highlights and proud moments so far working in the industry?
There have been so many but if I had to pick one it would be at the 2013 Leicester and Leicestershire Tourism Awards. College Court was only 3 years old and we scooped the Hotel of the Year award, I recall screaming in sheer delight that night and it still sticks with me now!
3. What have been some of your biggest challenges in your career?
One normal Monday morning in June 2017 I arrived at College Court to be greeted with 3 fire engines. A fire had broken out in our basement dry store and it quickly took hold of our facilities. The fire brigade acted swiftly but the damage had already been done.
The most important thing is that no one was injured however the fire had caused significant damage to our conference and dining facilities. Our facilities were closed down as we underestimated the sheer damage smoke can cause. As delegates arrived for their events the incredible sales team managed to secure alternative venues and transport for nearly all scheduled events, which over the duration of 3 weeks was no less than 100 meetings and events and in excess of 2000 delegates!
The passion and love all colleagues have for College Court shone through, and after 3 weeks we re-opened the doors.
Although a devastating time for all, it proved that in times of need the team all pulled together to bring our wonderful venue back to its former glory! Proof that I really do work amongst some of the most passionate and dedicated colleagues within the hospitality industry.
4. Given all your experience in the field, how has the industry evolved?
Technology. Whether it be delegate participation, sharing thoughts in real-time or utilising event apps. Clients are requesting more interactive technology to increase engagement and delegate experience.
Response times. We realise clients want an immediate response. Their time is precious and they quickly need to know information, availability and costs. This is why we offer a live chat facility on our website. In fact, by 2025, an estimated 95% of customer interactions will be supported by AI technology.
Social Media. Social media trends are moving quicker than ever, meaning the value of experience and expertise is increasing.
5. What trends do you see emerging within the industry?
An increasing number of clients are requesting a non-traditional event space. 2018 saw a 3.8% growth in demand for this type of space. Organisers are getting more creative with venues and themes. Unique meeting facilities leave a long-lasting impression on clients which make for memorable events. This is why College Court is creating innovative spaces to encourage creative thinking in a relaxed environment, with the help of “on brand” coloured lighting and SMART technology.
6. What led you to work at Leicester Conferences?
In 2013 I fell in love with the potential of College Court. The opportunity to launch a venue into the market was exciting (and a little overwhelming). Within a short space of time College Court established itself as a leading hotel and conference centre, and since opening has gone on to win numerous awards such as Hotel of the Year in 2016 and 2018, and Team of the Year at the 2018 MIA awards. In 2016 we re-launched as Leicester Conferences, increasing our portfolio and strengthening our brand recognition with additional venues. Every day I drive into work and feel proud of the brand we have created.
7. What does your ideal weekend / days off look like?
I am mum to two boys, aged 7 and 8 so generally my weekend will involve some sort of football plans! Usually anything outside is a winner in our family.
My ideal weekend would be somewhere sunny with family and friends. Or potentially in some kind of shopping outlet. I am a self-proclaimed shopaholic with over 100 pairs of shoes!
8. If you had could have a super power, what would this be?
Is having the ability to eat anything a super power? I’m a big foodie and my favourite food is cupcakes! Anyone who is in the hospitality industry knows you are constantly faced with incredible food and drink. Therefore I would choose to have the ability to eat and drink anything (cupcakes and prosecco) and not put on any weight!
9. Where is your dream holiday destination and why?
In June this year I will be on my honeymoon in Greece at a 5* all-inclusive resort with a private beach, infinity pool and swim up bar. The hardest decision I plan to make all week is what cocktail to drink next!
10. Do you have a favourite inspirational quote, if so, what is it?
I love a good quote! One of my favourites is ‘If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door!’