A Day in the Life… Clio O’Gara, country manager Ireland, Guestline
What is your current role?
I am country manager Ireland for Guestline; we offer cloud-based property management systems (PMS), distribution and digital marketing solutions to the hospitality industry, primarily to independent hotels, hotel groups and serviced apartments. I joined mid-2017 and, since then, I’ve been working with hoteliers to future proof their business, removing daily frustrations and introducing efficiencies that allows them to spend more time with the guest, improving the guest journey and boosting their profitability.
What is your background in hospitality/tourism?
Growing up our family had various businesses including a pub, restaurant and greengrocer. When I was 16, my father sent me to a hotel in Dunmore East, as he said, ‘to get it out of my system’. But, straight away I fell in love with the idea of working in hospitality. After my leaving cert, I started in Fitzpatrick’s Hotel as a trainee manager, I then moved to Paris where I worked for Hilton and Accor Hotels for 10 years, before returning to Ireland in 1992 to take up roles at Tower Hotel Group, SoftBrands, Bewleys, Lynch Hotels and the Gleneagle Group in Killarney before joining Guestline.
What ARE the best/worst parts of your job?
The best part of the job is seeing hoteliers truly benefit from the Guestline PMS product and integrations. When I walk into a property six weeks after it goes live and hear the positive feedback including increased business, efficiencies, more guest time etc. It is satisfying to play a part in providing hoteliers with the right tools and solutions they need to streamline their business.
The ‘worst’ part, which is frustrating, is the lack of industry information available to hoteliers on the fantastic advancements in industry technology and how they could benefit immensely if they truly embraced it.
What do you find most challenging about the hospitality/tourism sector?
Unfortunately, the industry is still clinging to the upstairs, downstairs, old fashioned service level thinking. Hoteliers need to be more demanding and not accepting – they need to demand the best software for their business and educate themselves on the right questions to ask. Hoteliers need to learn from retail and how that industry has engaged with technology, from sales and marketing, right down to how the customer pays for the product. The industry is sluggishly coming to the table but given that the technology is available, it’s up to the hoteliers to embrace it.
Outline a typical day
A typical day is busy. I tend to rise very early, around 6am, and catch-up on emails and admin before making my way ideally to a new business appointment. I spend most of my day talking to and educating hoteliers from financial controllers to owner/managers, sales and marketing and front of house staff on how we can help to future proof their business. I chat with existing clients, new clients, we discuss solutions, organise training days, I meet with Guestline’s partners about new integrations, attend trade exhibitions, host educational workshops for hoteliers; all whilst being busy on the road.
Proudest moment of your career to date
There have been many proud moments but one that stands out is the day (in 2018) I met with and secured the fantastic Loughshore Leisure Group as a client of Guestline. Signing up their three properties was a huge achievement. For such a recognised and respected brand to put their trust and confidence in us really celebrated the fact that Guestline could offer them an invaluable PMS solution, propelling their business to new heights and introducing an improved guest experience.
Best thing about being involved in the local hospitality/tourism sector
Through my own experience and role within Guestline, one of my main aims is to continually educate hoteliers to understand the role of technology, the demands of the industry and how to confidently evolve. We utilise our relationships with industry bodies ie NIHF, IHI and IHF by hosting educational workshops, events and through sponsorships. Plus, as the chosen PMS training tool across leading hospitality colleges, we ensure that students are knowledgeable and experienced when entering the workplace.
What do you like to do to unwind away from work?
I love yoga. As a new hobby, I’ve truly embraced it and find that it balances my physical and mental health and allows me to truly escape. Living in Wicklow means that beach walks are frequent; nothing beats sea air to clear the mind and when I do get the opportunity to jet away, France will always be my go-to place, my home from home.
Tell us something about yourself not many people may know
I speak fluent French. Having lived in France for over 10 years working with international hotel brands, French became my first language, in work, love and life.