Have you met Ken Lyons? Ovation Global DMC has the pleasure to interview the Director of Ken Lyons Communications (KLC), a Dublin based agency offering sales and marketing services to businesses within the global hospitality industry. Ken is passionate about the incentive travel industry and has been working for over 10 years with both destination management and luxury hotels markets in Ireland. Having held the role of SITE president for the Ireland chapter in 2017, here we have the opportunity to know a bit more about him:
Describe yourself in three words.
Loyal, determined, fair.
How did you get into the business/the role you’re in today?
Over the last 12 years, I had been working in the DMC and luxury hotel space with a focus on the North American MICE market. When working as a Director of Sales in a luxury hotel, I realised that although I wanted to continue my career in the global MICE industry, I wanted to do something different with it. As a result, in 2016, I opened up a dynamic sales and marketing representation agency called KL Communications.
Did you have any mentors or people who deeply influenced your career?
I’ve been very fortunate to have had great people in my life (too many to mention!) who have helped shape my career. Fiona O’Sullivan first introduced me to the world of DMCs and gave me my first full time role after completing my Masters back in 2005. She was an incredible mentor and role model, patient and giving of her time, always on hand to offer advice, provide support and I owe her so much. Jill O’Hare placed her trust in me to handle the US and Canadian markets when working at The Ritz-Carlton, Powerscourt. Her work ethic, ability to engage with all kinds of people and willingness to take on tasks has stayed with me to this day. When on the road, two of the most influential people I have had the pleasure to work with are Lulu Stribling, formerly of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company and Patrick Smith from Leading Hotels of The World.
Proudest moments in your career to date?
This is difficult as I tend to simply get on with things. But if I were to reflect on my career to date, being recognised as Leader of The Year when working for The Ritz-Carlton, Powerscourt was very special as was securing a Sales Intensity Award from The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company for going above and beyond to secure new business. Setting up my own company in 2016 was an absolute milestone and most recently being awarded SITE Member of The Year at The SITE+MPI Global Forum in Rome in January 2018 was overwhelming and incredible in equal measure.
Professional that you admire and why?
If I am allowed choose a sports professional, then it has to be Roger Federer. We are of a similar age and I have always been in awe of everything he has achieved. His skill, dedication, focus, level headedness and Swiss good manners have, and continue, to impress me.
What are the challenges facing hoteliers today?
As hotel prices rise, guest expectations are higher so the experience delivered to each and every guest has to be consistent, personal and memorable (for the right reasons!). Guests expect the hotel to play an integral role in their travel experience and want the hotel to see them as individuals with specific needs as opposed to adopting a one size fits all approach to the guest experience.
Walk us through your “typical” day
What I love most about my current role is that no two days are the same. As I am based in Dublin, Ireland, I use my local daytime to catch up with my European based buyers and suppliers, work on marketing for my agency, review sales activities and pipelines and dedicate time to online social media activity. Once North America wakes up, I check-in with clients on existing enquiries, to ensure the work being done for them by my partners is to the highest standards and to see how else I can assist them in their professional lives. I see my agency as being a strategic resource to MICE buyers when sourcing international destinations.
What do you think about when you’re alone in your car?
My family. I don’t see them often enough as I travel a lot and they are the people who keep me grounded, are always there for me, never judge, and besides the best parties ever take place in our family home where my parents live.
What did you want to be when you were a kid?
I always thought I would be an educator and at one point considered studying English and Religion in Dublin.
TV series you are hooked on?
I Know Who You Are (Sé quién eres in Spanish) was a gripping drama set in Barcelona and I loved it.
My 90’s obsession was Oasis and they are still the one band I have seen the most times performing live.
Aer Lingus. It was the first airline I ever flew with so there is a nostalgia there. Rosewood Hotels and Resorts as I not only love what they do from an experience perspective but I love how they present themselves to market. Of course M&Ms have to feature. Considering they are a confectionary, it’s incredible what they have achieved in terms of retail space experience, advertising and simply a super sense of humour!
Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin evoked such vivid images of San Francisco and when I first visited San Francisco, it was a very special experience. More recently, I 100% enjoyed All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. Such a beautiful written novel.
Spain has always been a special destination for me for too many reasons to mention (read: food and beverage!). Outside of Spain and thinking long haul, I love exploring both the US and Canada. Next on my long haul wish list are Argentina and Thailand.
Thank you Ken for sharing with us a little more about you! We wish you all the success!