Young Leaders Spotlight: Ashton Kelly

Susie HarwoodBlog

Next up in our SITE GB Young Leaders spotlight series, we meet Ashton Kelly, Head of Group & Corporate Sales at Rosewood London. Despite studying law, Ashton’s passion lay in hospitality, and she’s gained experience working for several leading brands, particularly in luxury hotel sales. A certified incentive professional, she has been working with Rosewood London for more than five years, having joined as Senior Sales Manager in October 2016.

How long have you been involved with SITE GB Young Leaders?

I’ve attended SITE events for several years but only joined the Young Leader Committee in 2020. Covid taught us community is more important than ever, so I wanted to get involved.  

What are the benefits for young incentive professionals who get involved?

Young Leaders have access to qualifications such as the CIS and CITP which are hugely valuable and recognisable in the industry. There are various committees available to join which allow people to learn new skills such as event planning, marketing or networking to name but a few.

What do you personally get out of SITE?

I enjoy creating new events, learning skills I didn’t previously have and seeing our Young Leader membership grow. I think a culture of volunteer leadership keeps SITE Strong and is very rewarding. 

The thing I most love about working in events and incentives is…

Creating lifelong memories through group travel. Anyone can travel independently but there is something powerful about rewarding people in their peer groups and being part of the community that creates incentives. We can all share in the reward when we see the success of a programme and the joy it brings to the attendees.

As international incentives recover post-pandemic, what trends are you seeing in terms of client demands?

People are generally more inquisitive about areas such as how sustainable your brand is and what authentic experiences they can have whilst on their trip.

How can luxury hoteliers adapt to meet those changing needs?

The benefit of working in a luxury brand is having a team empowered to go beyond the obvious. For example, joining one of our chefs and heading to the market to source ingredients from local suppliers to cook meals for the day ahead. Groups can curate their menu with the chef in advance and join them in our private kitchen to watch it be cooked before being served.

Describe your personal dream incentive…

I could spend hours with examples of my personal preferences but my goal is to have our team visit one of our sister hotels and let our trusted Rosewood colleagues curate something special for them so we can celebrate their success and allow us to say thank you for all they do, whilst experiencing the magic they normally create for others.

What’s the strangest request you’ve ever had from a client?

We had a group who wanted to turn the Ballroom into a Farm, so asked how they could bring various animals through the lobby. Luckily, they decided to go offsite but it could have been fun seeing some sheep in the lobby!

When I’m not working, I’m most likely to be…

Usually on a big walk pit stopping to eat and drink in one of London’s restaurants or pubs with my husband.