Interview with Macdonald Hotels & Resorts' Lyn MacDonald
This week we meet Lyn MacDonald, Group Marketing Director at Macdonald Hotels & Resorts.
What’s your golden rule?
Live in the moment, one life, live it, love it! That’s the ultimate rule I live by. In terms of a golden rule with my professional head on, it has to be lead by example and always add value.
Who has been your biggest influence?
I can’t pin this to one person, there are three:
- A charming gentleman called Martin Lee, he was the Sales & Marketing Director at Clwyd Compounders. The one who convinced me to move into marketing, the one who invested time and money in to me studying my professional marketing degree around a full-time position. The one who pushed me, raised my profile for my first ever headhunted role. He gave me the confidence to really push on and get to the boardroom.
- Karren Brady – I love her approach, she’s strong without being aggressive. I’ve had the pleasure of hearing her talk at various networking events. Her stories are inspiring, she saw the advert in her local paper for a football club, asked her boss to buy it and told him she’d turn a profit…he did and she did. Awesome! I admire her tenacity. I even grabbed a selfie with her at an event in Birmingham, that was years ago, before the selfie craze we live in now. Does this finally make me a trend-setter?!
- A cliché perhaps, BUT, I must mention my mum. My dad passed away when I was very young, so she has been both mum and dad for many years. She has always run her own businesses and has a great attitude to overcoming challenges. My tenacity, determination to succeed and fun-loving approach is all thanks to her.
What is your most hated business expression?
‘Chain’…I hate it! How depressing and boring. I’ve been proud to work for ‘groups’ of brands within entrepreneurial-led businesses. A collection of fabulous venues, yet part of an overarching brand name and identity, however, they all have a USP. Macdonald Hotels & Resorts is a great example of this…a group of hotels, each with the solid DNA foundation of being part of the Macdonald Hotels & Resorts brand, yet each has their own nugget of greatness such as location, listed buildings, the biggest bedrooms in the city, hidden bars in function rooms, grand entrance halls with listed wallpaper, Scotland’s Wedding Coordinator of the Year, the friendliest concierge…the list goes on.
Another one is “I’ll give it one hundred and ten per cent!” a real pet peeve of mine, how can you possibly give more than one hundred per cent.
How can marketers be braver?
I have talked to many senior marketeers recently, all with similar stories of their budgets being cut. We need to be bolder, stand by our marketing budgets and protect them. Budgets are often cut, trading is tough, right?! Is it right to cut the sales and marketing spend?
To be bolder in securing investment, we need the stats to back this up. We need to give confidence that we are tracking results, it’s no longer just about ‘invest for brand awareness’, we need to tie this into integrated activity, pulling in traditional methods to sit proudly alongside digital.
Stand by your marketing budget, make sure you have the right mix of offline versus online, track results and don’t be scared to try things the business has never done before.
I’m also the one that says – just because our competitor is doing it, doesn’t mean we should. It’s often hard for central marketing teams, everyone thinks they are a marketing expert and as a trade it’s so subjective. Know your customer, know how to reach them and make sure your activity is fully integrated to the wider sales, marketing and revenue strategies.
What’s the biggest risk you’ve taken in your career?
I’m never afraid to take risks, my career has been very opportunity led, I have been headhunted on more than one occasion. Leaving roles to chase the dream of getting in the boardroom and more importantly making sure I’m in a role where I can add real value to the business I represent. Some would say this is risky as it makes my career look jumpy.
I joined Thai Leisure Group at a time when they were about to launch a new brand concept. One month into my role, I made the case to change the proposed brand name. After a boardroom vote, I won my case to change the name. We changed it six weeks before we opened the first site in Spinningfields, Manchester which was to be our flagship restaurant. We opened before the trademark had been fully granted. We built the brand concept and identity around a great story and they now have ten restaurants. I am so proud of that brand and very pleased the risk paid off! THAIKHUN, previously known (or rather not known) as Chaophraya’s Pad Thai.
Which leader do you admire most and why?
Karren Brady example from above fits in nicely here I think…
What’s your favourite word?
I thought long and hard about this, then it came to me in a flash…TRAVEL. For me it means freedom, it means finding yourself lost in the most amazing experiences, it means making friends with locals and respecting their culture. Yup, love everything about this word. In life, I’m always travelling…I always want to feel like I’m moving forward (that and I spend a lot of time travelling with work…planes, trains and automobiles.)
Tell us a secret.
If I told you…it wouldn’t be a secret!