Mark Kelly, general manager at Thistle Birmingham City hotel, joined the Colmore Business District (CBD) board of directors in January this year as a representative from the Retail / Leisure / Hospitality sector in the District. Lee Bilson met with Mark at the Thistle to interview him for CBD Digest.

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What is your role at the Thistle?
I have been general manager at the Thistle for over a year. I am responsible for the smooth running of the hotel as well as looking after 75 members of staff. As general manager it is also my duty to raise the profile of the hotel and the Thistle brand in the Midlands. I’m very keen to create an offering that ticks the boxes for our business and leisure guests and also get involved within the business community. 

What is your background?
I have lived in Birmingham for 16 years altogether, apart from two years where I worked at a 5 Star resort in Miami. In Birmingham, I have worked for the Holiday Inn Hotel at Birmingham International Airport and the Crowne Plaza Hotel where I worked in a number of management roles before becoming deputy general manager; in this role I completed a multi-million pound re-development before leaving in mid-2008. I went on to work for Network Rail as a manager at their state of the art Learning Centre in Warwickshire where I worked on designing an efficient hotel model for service delivery. I left Network Rail and came to the Thistle in January 2012.

Why did you want to join the Board at CBD?
I wanted to join the CBD board because I think it’s important that we showcase the hospitality and leisure side of the District, engage with the other food and drink venues and create a joined up approach. Guests often think that we are the wrong side of town with the perception that Birmingham is the Mailbox and Brindleyplace, but I feel that we can use the business improvement district (BID) as a platform to come together and promote what is a high quality leisure destination for visitors.

What CBD activities has the Thistle taken part in?
The Thistle has taken part in three big events since 2012, the main one being the CBD Food Festival which was hugely successful and we will be participating again this year. We successfully catered for the high profile opening of Church Street Square and we also catered for the Christmas ‘Silent Night’ film night in Birmingham Cathedral.

What are you looking to bring to the Board?
As a public elected governor for Birmingham Children’s Hospital and a board director of MARCHE (Birmingham’s Hospitality platform) I am looking to bring my experience to the BID and I am also very passionate about raising the leisure and retail profile to both business and leisure tourists coming to the city.

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