A Day in the Life… Siobhan O’Sullivan, director of sales and marketing, Fitzwilliam Hotel, Belfast
WHAT IS YOUR CURRENT ROLE?
I am director of sales and marketing at the five-star Fitzwilliam Hotel Belfast, and I have been in this role for the past seven years. I am fully responsible for all sales and marketing activity, which includes strategic planning, budgets and achieving all of our KPIs.
WHAT IS YOUR BACKGROUND?
After University in Galway, I started my career in The Mespil Hotel in Dublin where I worked as a receptionist and then, after a number of years, worked my way up to food and beverage manager. I worked as catering manager for the opening of the Guinness Storehouse, and deputy manager in The Stillorgan Park Hotel for two years following that. My career in sales began in the Marriott Johnstown House in Co Meath and I then moved onto The Park Plaza in Blanchardstown as director of sales and marketing before finally moving north to the Fitzwilliam Hotel Belfast in 2010.
WHAT ARE THE BEST/WORST PARTS OF YOUR JOB?
The hospitality industry is one of the best to work in as every day is different; it is one of the few sectors that is constantly changing. It’s great to see how far Belfast has come in the past seven years and to see it recognised as one of the top destinations to visit in 2018 by Lonely Planet is a brilliant achievement. I really love showcasing Ireland and Belfast to agents all over the world, making sure they send all their clients our way. The hospitality industry is 24 hours, so it can be difficult to switch off at times and not look at emails during down time.
WHAT DO YOU FIND MOST CHALLENGING ABOUT THE SECTOR?
We have had a fantastic few years in Belfast since the Titanic and Waterfront opened, and Belfast is now seen as a top leisure destination in Europe. With all the new hotels coming into the city, I think the next few years will be challenging to continue the growth we have seen and to keep the prestigious Fitzwilliam brand front and centre in Northern Ireland.
OUTLINE A TYPICAL DAY
My day generally starts from 9am catching up on emails, and we have an operations briefing every morning at 11am, where we chat about the events and VIPs of the day. I usually have a couple of ‘show-arounds’ booked throughout the day or may have some clients in for lunch. I visit clients regularly and meet with VIPs as they arrive at the hotel. Occasionally in the evening, I attend local networking events or I’ll be hosting clients in the hotel for dinner or drinks. I travel quite frequently also, which could mean my day is in London or NYC!
PROUDEST MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER TO DATE
Working with our dedicated team at the Fitzwilliam Hotel to achieve five-star accreditation this year. Every single member of the team works incredibly hard to maintain an exceptionally high standard of service so it was really lovely to be recognised for that.
WHAT’S THE BEST THING ABOUT BEING INVOLVED IN THE LOCAL HOSPITALITY SECTOR?
Hospitality is a relatively new industry in Belfast and the passion everyone has for it here is truly infectious. There are some fantastic ambassadors for the industry in the city and we regularly work with Tourism NI, Visit Belfast and Belfast City Council, which makes it one of the best industries to work in. Hospitality is the lifeblood of Northern Ireland’s growing economy, so it’s imperative we continue this and showcase Belfast to the world.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO TO UNWIND AWAY FROM WORK?
There is nothing better than getting out of the city to the North Coast, walking along the beach and getting some fresh air along the stunning coastline. I do also love travelling abroad, getting away on city breaks every few months to see some of the world.
TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT YOURSELF NOT MANY PEOPLE MAY KNOW
I like to keep fit and attend a boxing boot camp twice a week.
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