TORONTO—Angela Xavier is enjoying her position as VP of sales, Canada following her return from maternity leave a few months back.
And while Xavier takes over many of the responsibilities of Gopal Rao, who is now with IHG in India, she stresses that their roles are not exactly the same.
“IHG is taking more of an Americas approach, with all subregions represented at the table.” She adds that like any global hotel company, IHG continues to evolve, focusing on global business but giving the subregions, such as Canada, freedom to do what’s best in their own markets.
Xavier sees her role as driving business to Canadian hotels. Her job involves working with over 100 managed accounts—large companies such as Bell Canada, Bombardier and Canadian Tire with organized travel programs. With its network of 4,600 hotels worldwide, IHG is well-positioned as a central contact for these organizations. IHG can offer accommodation ranging from luxury brands such as InterContinental, to limited service flags such as Candlewood Suites.
Xavier works closely with Jo Allan, director of marketing. Marketing helps drive transient business with its consumer messaging.
Xavier will work closely with her colleagues at IHG head office in Atlanta on owner and industry relations.
Areas of focus include the hotel performance support team, focusing on sales and hotel performance support.
“In our business, a lot of backyard sales needs to be done. The five kilometres around the hotel are the most important part of a hotel’s success.” Local efforts could include hosting customer events, bringing new clients to the marketplace, and building business cases to move business to IHG hotels, Xavier says.
“My number one focus is on strengthening our brand. The Stay Smart campaign is back with a modern twist, and has already been well received. Sports is absolutely a focus, especially for the Holiday Inn Express, Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza brands. We’re looking at professional and competitive teams, with B to B and B to C messaging. One example is Swimming Canada—the brands are a wonderful fit.”
And IHG continues to grow in Canada, with 166 hotels open and 35 in the pipeline. IHG has the largest number of rooms of any hotel company in Canada—24,040 with another 4,042 in the pipe.
Most of the growth is with Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express in Alberta (Calgary Airport, Red Deer and Edmonton) and Ontario (St. Jacobs). IHG will also open the Crowne Plaza Kitchener at the end of this year.
Xavier has worked with IHG for 17 years, rising through the ranks by working as a guest services manager and hotel manager, before moving to sales 10 years ago.