A strong company needs strong women in its leadership. One of them is Johanna Peres. She has been in the leading position of Director Commercial since mid-2021. In this article, she follows up on our last interview and tells us about her professional lifeblood: her departments and employees. How does she incorporate the corporate values engagement, trust, courage, creativity, flexibility and responsibility into day-to-day business and how has she experienced the first months in her new role? Find out here:
Dear Ms. Peres, thank you for your time! Please tell us about your departments.
At the GCH Hotel Group, I am in charge of the Sales, Revenue Management & Distribution and Marketing departments, with about 40 employees per department; except for Marketing, which is a smaller team.
Tell us more about yourself: Since when have you been Head of Department, for how long have you been with the GCH Hotel Group and how would you describe your professional career?
I started off the classic way, as a Hotel Manager at Steigenberger Hotels. Afterwards, I joined the 5-star hotel business in the Marketing and Sales departments, where I expanded my knowledge extensively. I decided to specialise in these areas after it quickly became clear to me that not only the hotel business but also its target groups and marketing had become my passion. After a few years in a smaller hotel company in the Stuttgart area, where I was responsible for the areas Corporate & Leisure Sales, Marketing and Revenue Management, I joined the GCH Hotel Group in 2010 as Area Director Sales & Marketing, first in Corporate Sales for the Area South and then also for the Area Central. In 2017, I took over the company's entire Sales department. From 2019 onwards, I was entrusted with additional projects for the Commercial area, which I then became fully responsible for in June 2021.
What do your main activities and tasks consist of?
My responsibilities include a comprehensive view on marketing and the further development and implementation of business strategy to accelerate growth. Market research and analyses are as much part of it as understanding our clients' requirements to ensure their demands are fulfilled. Acquiring new clients and managing client relations in coordination with the different teams, as well as building and maintaining profitable partnerships, are just as important as the communication and collaboration with our franchise partners, the direct contact to our hotels and the knowing each hotel's goals and strategies. The main challenge for the Commercial Services team is to communicate with every single stakeholder, owner, franchisor and General Manager. The future of Commercial Services lies in the expansion of strategic partnerships, revenue streams ad internal and external quality assurance.
What exactly are the tasks of your teams?
Revenue & Distribution staff manage the occupancy and RevPAR (Revenue Per Available Room) of the hotels applying yield and revenue management strategies. They react to the rapid changes in the distribution landscape and efficiently cooperate with hotel managers, Area Vice Presidents and the Commercial team for an optimal strategic alignment of the hotels. Furthermore, the department trains future Yield & Revenue Managers and offers four Revenue Management training modules for hotel employees with Revenue responsibility. True to the motto "Efficient Revenue Management combined with flexibility, dynamics and creativity", our staff successfully tackle the challenge of finding the ideal business mix for the hotels.
Our Sales team looks after the GCH Hotel Group's clients in the North, Berlin, East, West, Central and South areas. In short, the department is responsible for expanding the entire corporate business of all hotels in the GCH portfolio. The main focus is on handling the feeder markets in Germany and supporting the cross-selling idea between the Account Managers in all areas and the hotels as well as coordinating and optimising sales actions between the GCH Sales team and its franchise partners. The Sales department define their work as close to the market, sustainable, customer-oriented, competent and professional.
In addition, they are responsible for tourism sales of all GCH hotels. The competent staff take care of the national and international B2B clients from the FIT and group travel segment. Together with the hotels, they develop appropriate Leisure Sales strategies and adapt their activities and the customer mix to each hotel in the GCH portfolio. Their focus is on supporting existing and key customers, next to building and strengthening new potential business relationships. The objecitve is to optimally exploit the Leisure capacities of all GCH hotels. In doing so, they exploit the diverse sales strategies of the dynamic travel market and react to market fluctuations in an agile manner. The Leisure Sales team's strengths are professionalism, strong communication skills and permanent monitoring of the market.
The Marketing & Digital department is responsible for the development and maintenance of the hotel websites and the GCH corporate website. Other services include Search Engine Marketing (SEO and SEM), display and remarketing, social media and content creation. The topicality, functionality and usability are the main points. The hotels generate direct bookings and revenue with a high online presence and sales-promoting storytelling. Furthermore, the Marketing department takes care of the Brand Management of both the GCH Hotel Group and the hotels. Takeover processes of new or re-branded hotels, as well as PR measures, are yet another part of the portfolio. The team organises trade fair appearances and events, cooperations and sponsorships, coordinates agencies and print houses and prepares presentation materials and promotional gifts. Optimisation and innovation throughout all processes and a service-oriented mindset are what make Marketing & Digital an efficient and reliable part of my team.
What goals have you set for yourself and your departments?
We all share the common goal and responsibility to generate the greatest possible added value and profit for the company. There was hardly a time when this was as important as in these pandemic years, which we hope will soon be a thing of the past. We want to achive our goals by linking the subdivisions and their synergies even more closely, thus enhancing joint efficiency. Growing even tighter together as a team and reaching our guests with smooth communication has become a more significant task than ever. Another goal is to build sustainable and personal customer relations, to be a reliable partner and to win over the same, despite advancing digitalisation.
What motivates you to drive the GCH Hotel Group's success with your work, and what part of it do you enjoy most?
We do not operate in rigid hierarchies, but have short and efficient decision-making paths. This facilitates quick and dynamic decisions, which are highly important due to all the circumstances and developments on the fast-paced market. What I enjoy most is to actively participate in these developments, to see the resulting success and to celebrate it with the teams. Talking about teams: Also they bring lasting joy and motivation to my daily routine and actions. The teams are incredibly efficient and flexible. They carry out their work with euphoria, joy and loyalty - even and especially during the difficult past months. Many have shown courage and creativity and every single team member has proactively contributed to our so far successful survival of the pandemic.
Were there and are there pandemic-related challenges? How do these experiences affect the future after Corona?
The Corona crisis poses many challenges for all of us, people and companies. It is particularly in the hotels where we notice that some destinations changed in size and scope. What matters here is to rethink and restructure, especially since not all of our source markets are back yet. We have to keep our eyes and ears open and get to the bottom of our clients' needs all over again. We have to master the balancing act between advancing digitalisation and personal contact to our clients and also provide new the hotels with new technologies, especially in the conference and meeting area. Many more changes will be coming our way, changes we probably cannot completely foresee today. However, with commitment and trust in our teams and staff, we will tackle and master these in our usual dynamic manner.
We thank you for the interview and wish you continued success!
Editor: Jan Möller
Translation: Bea Lehofer