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The Caterer

Minute on the Clock – Colin Williams

28 March 2014
Minute on the Clock – Colin Williams

Colin Williams is hotel sales manager for Holiday Inn London - Kingston Southm which celebrates its fifth birthday. He tell Janie Manzoori-Stamford how business has grown despite turbulent economic times

This was a period of learning for 
us: growing awareness of the hotel and the brand within the area and on a national level. Being on the back of the relaunch of the Holiday Inn brand in 2007 meant that we were one of the first to offer the 
new brand style, which was 
exciting and a good head start 
to our opening campaign.

In the first 12 months we stayed focused on putting customer 
needs at the heart of everything 
we did. This helped us create a
solid customer base of brand ambassadors who would go back
to their offices and shout about 
the hotel and what it had to offer.

What were the main challenges you and the team encountered?
The economic climate proved challenging as corporate 
clients tried to control their travel costs and budgets. They were also looking for added value for their stays, such as free Wi-fi, free parking and last-room availability.

At the time, our competitor 
hotels were more established and, although some were showing signs of being tired compared with a new hotel like us, they had an extremely loyal customer base. Of course, these hotels were also reducing rates to keep their clients happy and returning, so we had to keep chipping away and wooing people over to our property by clearly demonstrating our advantages.

How has the hotel's corporate business changed in five years? Our corporate business has grown and we have remained steady with the number of clients. We needed to invest more time in getting to know them, so that we could instinctively offer them additional services - add-ons that made the difference to their stay - and I am pleased to say that every year we have seen a growth in room nights.

However, you can't rest on your laurels and a number of short-term marketing projects within the local area have helped boost revenues and room nights for us.

How did you go about growing that area of the business? One of our key strategies was to make local businesses our priority and so we give our local corporate clients first choice wherever possible for availability. This 
worked well during the Olympics, when we offered corporate clientele an allocation of rooms.

What has also worked well 
was linking in with global sales
at Intercontinental Hotels Group.
It has supported us in putting forward strong business proposals so that we have had a better chance of acquiring new corporate clients for the hotel.

How does 2014 look to be 
shaping up? The hotel has a positive outlook
and a good couple of new corporate wins means we have already started the year trading up on 2013. We have also enjoyed celebrating our fifth birthday together with some of our most cherished local clients to raise funds for our chosen local charity, Born Too Soon.

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