Employee Series #2- Our Client Services Director Gemma
It is time for the second post of our Employee Series! This week we’re giving you an insight into the knowledge and expertise of our Client Services Director, Gemma.
1. When you come into work in the morning, what is the first thing you check?
I like to know what’s ahead of me for the day so the first thing I do is take a few minutes to plan my day. I write up my to do list and note what meetings I have, then I can structure my day. I then jump into my emails. As part of my email check in the mornings, I have a read of relevant blogs I am subscribed to for example Hotel Marketing and Tnooz. I will scan them for headlines that interest me and then read into. This helps me keep on top of what’s going on or coming in relation to our industry.
2. What are the most important attributes of a good eCommerce Manager?
The role of an eCommerce Manager within Net Affinity is so varied that the person needs to be a good all-rounder. People skills are so important as you need to get along with your clients and your peers. We hire all of our eCommerce team from the hotel industry and I think this is very important for what we do for hotels. Given what we provide to clients, having a revenue or marketing background is our 3rd essential attribute.
3. What software could you not live without?
We introduced a new CRM system in recent months and it’s just brilliant. It gives me a good overview on everything that’s going on from a client management perspective. Another great piece of software which enhances our clients experience with Net Affinity is our knowledge base/ticketing and chat function.
4. How has technology had an effect on your role from when you began to now?
Being in the industry we are in, technology has always played a part in my role but throughout time it has become a larger influence. As we stride for efficiencies and the best client experience we are bringing more technology into the mix and it is only helping. We even see hotels are using a lot more technology companies as time has gone on with channel managers and other third party suppliers.
5. How do you get over distance challenges with clients?
Where clients are based overseas we use teleconferencing technology to communicate. As most communication is via email/phone with our clients, distance isn’t an issue. Clients seem to like dealing with emails and we use email to keep them up to date with what’s happening or changing. We find once we are responding to clients queries or issues as soon as possible it doesn’t matter where we are.
6. What are the challenges facing hotels today?
There are three key challenges that hotels are facing at the moment. The first is the domination of OTAs in the digital space. Hotels know they need to reduce the amount of OTA bookings to keep costs down but the dependence on these channels makes for a challenging task.
The second is pricing and knowing their strategy. Some hotels struggle with having a clear pricing strategy. Knowing the rate strategy for the year ahead and what prices to sell at for different seasons is important to achieve budget. Also, looking at the Net rates rather than Gross, as this takes the Cost per channel into consideration.
The third challenge is time. When we discuss what we want to do for the coming months with clients we find that one of the biggest hurdles faced is the time to action what’s required. Hotel management need to give resources and time to people managing the hotel’s revenue so that they can yield effectively as possible.
7. How do you maintain your business relationships with current clients?
I firmly believe you are only as good as your last Client contact and every touch-point a client has with us needs to show this. I encourage our eCommerce & Client Services team to always give as good of a service as we possibly can and we spot check this through feedback with our clients on a day to day basis.
8. What are the largest challenges facing the eCommerce team?
Guests are filled with choice in today’s digital world when choosing their hotel – each site claiming the best deal. Hotels are struggling to convey the message that direct is best. It’s difficult to compete with OTAs and reduce a reliance on them, but it is possible. We have worked with many hotels in reducing their OTA reliance and getting customers to book direct. We know it works, it’s getting hotels to trust that this can be done that is one of the biggest challenges.
9. What is your favourite hotel and why?
I once stayed in Paradise Koh Yao in Thailand and it was just amazing. It was a real getaway break as you can only get there by boat! All of the restaurants are literally on the beach so you are sitting with sand between your toes, listening to the waves and having dinner!
10. Tell me three things I should know about you.
I completed my MBA in 2013 after 2 years studying part-time and did my thesis at the time on whether social media was a fad or here to stay – I should check what my conclusion was.
I’m from the midlands town of Mullingar famous for Joe Dolan, Niall Horan, Bressie and a few other musicians.
I love all things fashion and love watching for all the latest trends.