My Career: I always loved working in hospitality

In our weekly My Career section in WoW! we talk to Sales & Marketing Manager, Kinsale Hotel and Spa, Aoife Lohse
My Career: I always loved working in hospitality

Aoife Lohse, Sales and Marketing Manager at the Kinsale Hotel and Spa.

Name: Aoife Lohse

Age: 29

Lives: Glasheen, Cork

Job title: Sales & Marketing Manager, Kinsale Hotel and Spa

Salary bracket: €35-40,000;

Education background: In 2008, after being in the hospitality sector for a few years during school, I started my diploma in tourism & hospitality studies in Cork Institute of Technology.

Thriving in this course, I got into the second year of my ordinary degree in Business and Hospitality Management. Furthering this, I did my Honours Degree in Business and Hospitality Management. Then, after five years in college, graduating with distinctions each year, I wanted to broaden my employment prospects.

Finding passion in my strategic marketing modules in the hospitality course, I went to the communications deperatment and got my Masters in Public Relations, Marketing and New Media. I decided to do a two year masters in 12 months, while working full time. And got a distinction, 2:1 to boot! (Don’t ask me how, I had no social life for those 12 months).

Hobbies: Yoga, swimming and nature walks.

Describe your job in five words: Goal- driven, creative, challenging, competitive and exciting.

Describe yourself in five words: Hard- working, innovative, versatile, friendly and caring.

Personality needed for this kind of work? In sales and marketing, I feel the most important quality is to be adaptable, to be able to see things from all angels and pivot, offering to suit the customer’s needs and wants. Acting as an educator rather than a seller.

How long are you doing this job? I have been in hospitality for 14 years, starting on pot wash and working my way up. However, I have been doing sales and marketing specific roles since 2014, so six years now.

How did you get this job? I have always been in the hospitality sector so I decided to move up the ladder, you need a piece of paper, and that’s what I got. Well, four of them actually. In 2008, I went to Cork Institute of technology not fully sure on what I wanted to be so I did a 2-year diploma in Tourism & Hospitality Studies, which gave me an insight into all  departments of a hotel. During this two-year diploma, I worked through every departments of a hotel in various west Cork properties including The Maritime Hotel, The Westlodge Hotel and The Emmett Hotel, West Cork properties.
From housekeeping, to accounts, to reception, F&B, leisure centre. You name it, I worked it. Previous to that I had a wealth of experience in working in various restaurants, having my first job at 14 working in a café in Leap (family friends). I have always had a hard work ethic which I feel is so important in all industries, but especially hospitality.

After I finished my two-year diploma, this got me into the second year of Business and Hospitality management, ordinary degree in Cork Institute of Technology. I decided to further my wealth of education in this sector by continuing to get my honours degree in Business and Hospitality management, all while working full time working up the industry ladder. At this stage, I was going to become a general manager, this was my goal. I found my personality really suited reception/ front desk roles. This is where I really excelled, very customer focused, luckily gaining my senior experience in amazing establishments such as the River Lee, Fota Island Resort and at the time helping with the reopening of The Kingsley.

During my time at Fota I was introduced to the world of sales and marketing, attending trade events and show on behalf of the sales team. I was in love with this role! So, when it came to looking at my Masters, I decided to take a different route to broaden my career prospects.

I looked at so many courses but the one that stuck out was the MA in Public Relations, Marketing and New Media. At this point I was going into my 6th year of college education and just wanted to be done. I decided to complete a 2-year masters in 12 months while working full time in Fota Island Resort (don’t ask me how I did it, amazing employer who accommodated hours as well as living/ breathing my masters).

I will never forget the day I was called by the course coordinator saying I had received a distinction for my thesis and that if I achieved this while working full time, I could do anything. These words have stayed with me still. By the time I finished college, sales director was now my goal, however, what I wanted to do changed every year of my professional development. It’s mad how 17/18 year olds are expected to know what they want to do for the rest of their lives, I’m nearly 30 and I’m still figuring that out!

Anyways, once I graduated with my Masters I was looking to progress in my current employment, however, sadly the position wasn’t going anywhere, so I started looking around.

That is when The Address Cork (formally The Ambassador) came calling, after a number of interviews I was off on my sales adventure. In this role, which was a rebrand and complete refurbishment, I quickly progressed within the year from sales executive to sales and marketing executive, to Sales and Marketing Manager. By the end of my three years working at the Address Cork, I had travelled both nationally and internationally as sales and marketing manager, not only for my own property but for the McGettigan Hotel Group. It was at this stage I said, right, I need to take off and travel a bit, I’ve done the hard work for my education and career, now it’s time to do what I always promised myself and travel. So off I went to south-east Asia, specifically Thailand.

I had to cut my travels short, but landed a reservations role in the beautiful Hayfield Manor, one of the most amazing properties I have ever experienced, let alone had the pleasure to work in, reinvigorating my love of the 5-star standard. When I was in this role I was head hunted for the role of sales and marketing manager at Kinsale Hotel & Spa (formally the Carlton). An acquaintance from industry now working with Tifco Hotel Group, who knew me from my work with the Ambassador Hotel, got in touch with a similar project at Kinsale Hotel & Spa. I wasn’t looking to move but I couldn’t give up the opportunity of another rebrand and refurbishment property, as I love being part of a project. Similar challenges in so many ways to relaunch, but so different given the regional property comparison to the city property.

The rest is history, I had a successful year being part of the new management team at Kinsale Hotel & Spa, before March, 2020, hit and the past nine months have been a roller- coaster to say the least.

However, as a team we have come together and worked through it, coming out the other side all the better, with some silver linings being further hotel improvements and refurbishments to our superior lodges during the hotel closure. The past nine months have taught me invaluable tactics and reactive skills in crisis sales management and overall pivoting sales strategy.

Do you need particular qualifications or experience? Oh yes, my wealth of education background has assisted me in so many ways. When people think sales, they don’t realise the amount of theory, planning and administration that comes with the job. Experience is so important but personality is essential.

You need to be a certain type of person to be successful in sales; friendly, hard-working, resourceful, dynamic, sometimes thick-skinned, and most of all versatile.

Describe a day at work: Every day is different, especially now. But typically, it is looking at the business on the books for the immediate future, seeing what can be done sales and marketing action wise to boost these, and what needs to be done. Working with the various departments for sales and promotion efforts, and of course helping the operation team on the ground if and when required.

Then it is always looking into the future, a week, a month, a quarter down and where promotion needs to be focused. Then of course looking after clients, various things that may arise as a direct liaison to the hotel.

How many hours do you work a week? At least 40 hours a week, I used to be a 60-70 hour a week, gal! But after years of this I have learned to be strict with my work/life balance.

Is your job stressful? How? Rate it on a scale of 1-10: 100, but I have definitely learned to deal with stress much better with experience and work/life balance.

Do you work with others or on your own? Both, I love being part of a dynamic team and bouncing ideas off my colleagues. Although I do enjoy putting my head down and getting stuck in a project.

Best bits: Working with people and achieving my goals/ objectives.

Worst bits: I get such an attachment to a job or property, sometimes it’s hard to let go and switch off.

Advice to those who want your job? It is such a fulfilling job if you do it in the right way and work hard, you have tough days and the best days but seeing the results makes it all worthwhile.

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