After completion of a Masters in Marketing, SITE Ireland President Ken Lyons, embarked on a career in the incentive travel industry, spanning 11 years to date, with experience on the destination management and luxury hotel side of the business in Ireland. He has held positions with the global luxury hotel brand, The Ritz-Carlton; was part of the pre-opening team at The Marker Hotel, Dublin and currently heads up the sales department as Director of Sales at The Westbury, a Leading Hotel of The World in Dublin. This broad range of experience has allowed Ken to hone his skills across a wide range of market segments, with an emphasis placed on incentive travel. He is passionate about our industry, which is what first motivated him to become involved with SITE.
SITE: Serving as a Chapter Leader is a volunteer position and requires a significant time commitment. What motivated you to assume the Chapter President position?
Ken: I believe it is important to commit time to our industry at large to ensure its long-term sustainability and success. Teamwork is the best approach to ensure our respective businesses within the incentive travel industry are successful, and Ireland is an excellent example of how we come together to win business for the destination. The role of SITE Ireland President is an important one to ensure the Chapter continues to go from strength to strength. Looking at the caliber of previous Chapter Presidents, and the contributions they have made, I felt compelled to pursue this role and to hopefully build on their contributions. I am motivated by the commitment and work of our Board and how we serve our growing membership base. We strive to continually evolve as a Chapter, raising the bar in terms of our events, social media presence, membership support and overall contribution to SITE.
SITE: When recruiting new members, what do you tell them are the greatest personal and professional benefits of being a member of SITE?
Ken: First and foremost, I always advise that what you get out of your membership depends on what you put into your membership. We are here to support each member to the best of our ability to help ensure they generate new business relationships within the Chapter and within SITE on a global level; that they have access to industry leading events and education; and that SITE is the best place to grow on a professional and personal level. It is a very unique organization in this regard and this characteristic should not be overlooked. I also advise that their membership supports the work of the Chapter and this work has a positive effect on individual members.
SITE: SITE Ireland has a very active and growing Young Leaders group. How has the chapter been so successful in recruiting young professionals?
Ken: Ireland is a vibrant and dynamic place to do business and Young Leaders are essential to ensure we continue to evolve and display world-class innovation as an incentive travel destination. We have been successful in growing our Young Leaders group due to the support offered to them, the freedom afforded to them to express their ideas and to ensure they know that we place huge importance on their role in ensuring the long-term success of incentive travel in Ireland. On a practical level, we have one Chapter Board member, Michael Dalton, who acts as a dedicated point of contact for the Young Leaders, as well as having a mentor, Brian Murray, who oversees the Young Leaders group and shares his years of industry experience with them. This has proved invaluable.
SITE: What are some of the opportunities/challenges that are affecting the incentive travel industry in Ireland?
Ken: Let’s start with the positives! Air access to Ireland is on a growth trajectory and we have multiple airports around the country to support this, allowing ease of access for incentive travel groups. This is hugely important when attracting incentive business to Ireland. Our industry wide team approach to winning incentive travel business is also key. Our incentive product offering is continually evolving, underpinned by a great entrepreneurial spirit inherent in the Irish psyche. However, it would be remiss of me not to mention some of the challenges facing Ireland including the prevalence of outdated perceptions regarding the Ireland offering. It is essential that SITE Ireland leads the way in promoting the diversity of our offering, our growing reputation as a world class food and beverage destination, and that there are many sides to the Ireland offering. New and emerging destinations also pose a challenge, but I believe that these destinations actually facilitate further growth within the industry as opposed to taking existing market share. Overall, the future looks bright for incentive travel business into Ireland and I am proud of the role that SITE plays within the destination.