Our spotlight interviewee for March is the Head of National Sales for Kew Green Hotels - Michael Lee. We have asked him a variety of questions both industry and personal related. Take a read below to find out more about how he got to where he is today:
1. Tell us about your professional experience within the industry so far?
I started my hospitality journey in Hotel leisure clubs. I joined as an assistant health club manager in 2009 at a Holiday Inn. I loved helping people achieve their goals but very quickly understood that the biggest thrill I had was from making memberships sales. From there I took a sales role out of hotels to gain experience for a year and then moved back to hotels as a sales manager for an independent unbranded property in Hertfordshire. I have been fortunate that in most of my roles responsibility was thrust upon me, before I was ready in most cases. I have had to learn quickly, and throw myself in at the deep end, but I am great believer in saying Yes to opportunities and learning the detail later. I worked in the provinces until 2015 and then made the move into London, which I would advise any sales person in our industry to do as soon as they can.
2. What have been your highlights and most proud moment so far working in the industry?
The moment I am most proud of is winning sales team of the year within IHG for our 2018 results. During my time there we had turnover of the entire team, walked away from our largest client, and our meetings business was way off its potential. To turn all of that around, deliver record results across the board and get to develop some great individuals was amazing. To be rewarded best sales team out of over 300 properties was the icing on the cake.
3. What have been some of your biggest challenges in your career?
With some of the opportunities that have been given to me, at times it has been a real challenge to learn all that is required whilst keeping on top of the day to day. In some roles all I have wanted to do is walk away and find something more in my comfort zone but sticking with it and throwing myself fully into the challenge has been a great learning curve and has developed me hugely in my career.
4. Given all your experience in the field, how has the industry evolved?
The industry has evolved hugely in my time. When I started, it was a relationship led industry where business could really be influenced by the strength of your relationships. Whilst this is still a factor, with the onset of on line booking tools, apps, live availability systems and players such as Airbnb the market is evolving rapidly and those that are unwilling to accept the changes and keep up will be left behind.
5. Do you see any trends emerging within the industry?
There are many trends emerging in our market place. Companies are more focused on work life balance, improving flexible working conditions, and enhancing their team’s choice on venues and accommodation. Individuals are making buying decisions based on experience led propositions, so approaching this area in a new way for hoteliers is key if we want to match our client’s aspirations. The growth in digital from a marketing & transactional point of view means we have to continually invest in this area to ensure both our content and booking journeys remain relevant and current.
6. What led you to work at Kew Green Hotels?
I joined Kew Green Hotels as I knew they were disrupting the industry in their approach to owning and managing hotels. I heard so many good things about them that when the chance arrived, I had to take it. They created the Commercial Hub, taking positions that may have traditionally sat on property and combined them in one place to really drive the results of the group forward. There is an almost forensic appetite for the detail that we can extract from our data and the results are shared to ensure our business decisions are taken from a place of fact rather than feel or opinion. It is an incredibly fast paced and ambitious group, and I am really looking forward to being part of the journey of expansions over the coming years.
7. What does your ideal weekend look like?
My ideal weekend revolves around my 2 sons. I have a 5 & 4 year old who I love spending time with and doing anything fun that they want to do.
8. If you had could have a super power, what would this be?
To be in 2 places at one time, I would like to be able to spend more time with my sons.
9. Where is your dream holiday destination and why?
I would really like to visit the Maldives. It looks like paradise and I would make the most of a 2 week break there.
10. Do you have a favourite inspirational quote, if so, what is it?
My favourite quote is ` What’s meat to be will always find a way’ certainly been the case in my professional and personal life.