In Conversation With Erika Steward, Director of Sales at The Lygon Arms, Broadway
The Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership (WLEP) is an organisation at the forefront on innovation in our County. Their vision is to build a connected, creative, dynamic economy for all in Worcestershire.
Situated within the idyllic Cotswolds village of Broadway, lies the four-star Lygon Arms. With roots dating back to the 15th century, The Lygon Arms is steeped in history, and reminders of the vast Tudor influence are visibly appreciated in the superb restoration of original features. The Lygon Arms boasts two new restaurants in addition to a variety of relaxed lounges, meeting spaces, a dedicated afternoon tea room and a summer alfresco courtyard.
The Lygon Arms is a member of Iconic Luxury Hotels, a collection of England’s finest iconic hotels which also includes Cliveden House in Berkshire, 11 Cadogan Gardens in the heart of Chelsea, Chewton Glen in the New Forest, Hampshire and it will open its second London property The Mayfair Town House in Half Moon Street in October 2020. Each property has its own character but they a share a common commitment to delivering outstanding experiences.
This month, Ruby chats with Erika Stewart, Director of Sales at the prestigious Cotswolds hotel, to learn more about her role and how she started her career in the hospitality industry:
My alarm goes off…
… at 6am, I have one of many coffees and go through many emails, as lots of clients are in US and overseas so requests often come in overnight. I get a head start on work, so by 8am I’m on my way to The Lygon Arms or at meetings. I do a lot of networking, but I love spending time with people, so any opportunity is welcome.
How did you start doing what you’re doing?
I studied Interior Design and was working within that industry when I was first offered maternity cover for a wedding organiser. I became passionate about events in the year to follow, my role included an array of projects from product launches to fashion shows and incentive events for overseas clients. Each event became more exciting and new, and I started writing a column for hospitality industry magazine, specifically about events and my career grew from there. I’ve worked with a variety of A-list celebrities, which was as much a joy to create such unique experiences as it has been to arrange conferences and weddings and business networking. I genuinely enjoy all aspects of dealing with my clients – I gain a great deal of satisfaction in their success.
My typical day
Generally, I plan ahead as much as I can although my day can be quite unpredictable. In the main, I meet with clients and provide a lot of hospitality to a range of people and organisations. In fact, 90% of my meetings take place over food and drink. I firmly believe in giving great hospitality in whatever I do and for whoever I meet – it’s the science of my industry.
That said, I particularly enjoy welcoming clients to The Lygon Arms, as it’s such a beautiful, iconic hotel to show off.
What are you responsible for?
All things saleable. Everything across The Lygon Arms, in every aspect. It’s my job to create a special visit to The Lygon Arms for everyone, from romantic visits for couples, wellness weekends away, or business events.
I particularly enjoy working in partnership with local businesses especially Broadway Business Association and the various Tourism Boards in the area, and being am ambassador for our Cotswold community and region in general.
Our events are very varied and I encourage everyone to take a look at our calendar to find out what’s on: https://www.lygonarmshotel.co.uk/whats-on/. We support local causes too and recently hosted a charitable event that raised over £1600. More info here: https://www.youdobetter.co.uk/2019/12/06/cotswold-business-connections-raise-over-1600-for-charity/.
What worries you?
Attention to detail – because of my background in event planning, I want to make sure everything’s covered, especially a wet weather plan! I want my clients to have the best possible experience. Oh, and clear and concise communications too.
What are your notable highlights to date?
There are genuinely too many to pick from! I’m very fortunate to work with Iconic Luxury Hotels, they own Chewton Glen and Cliveden House, which one of the most notable hotels in England.
What’s the key to your success?
Being open minded and trusting my intuition.
Who or what has been your biggest influence?
I constantly learn from people, especially great leaders in hospitality and leaders in general. I’m excited to be learning every day and am able to take unique aspects from many people I get to know.
What’s on your to do list?
My list is ongoing, it’s a never-ending to do list but my ultimate aim is to be a better organised person in 2020! I’m easily distracted and can get carried away with things!
Lack of clear and concise information.
What I wanted to be when I grew up?
Many things actually, I wanted to be an air hostess, architect, journalist… and all have the common theme of travel and working with people. I was born in South Africa and moved over to UK whilst travelling. I’ve been here since 2004, that’s 15 winters!
Where can you mostly be found after work?
Home, in the kitchen preparing dinner with a glass of wine. I also like exercise and keep fit, being creative and read good books. But, generally, after work, I want to relax over a glass of wine in the kitchen.
Best piece of advice you’ve received?
If you’re going to do something, do it well.
My party piece?
I’m often asked if The Lygon Arms is haunted and I have a photo of a ghost to prove it!
What’s next? How do people find out about you?
Come and see me at The Lygon Arms, I love to show it off to everyone.