We catch up with Hotelier Award winner Deveekaa Nijhawan
When and in which category did you win a Hotelier Award?
I was unanimously voted the Marketing and PR Person of the Year Award from the esteemed panel of judges in 2016.
What was your role at the time?
I was the cluster PR & communications Manager for Le Méridien Dubai Hotel & Conference Centre and Le Méridien Fairway. I was responsible for media and PR agency management in Dubai and key inbound markets and marketing and social media activities for 18 F&B restaurants, 3 banquet and 10 conference facilities to position Le Méridien as the preferred hotel for stays, events and dining. During my tenure I launched the Le Royal Club adding 196 room’s inventory — in the presence of HH Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, one of the largest ballrooms in the UAE, fostered several strategic partnerships and re-launched 10 of the 18 F&B restaurants.
Since winning the award I was appointed as the director of PR and communications at Niyama Private Islands Maldives and recently been promoted to be the cluster director of PR and communications of Anantara Dhigu Maldives Resort, Anantara Veli Maldives Resort, Naladhu Private Island Maldives and Niyama Private Islands Maldives. I am responsible for leading and developing the PR, communications and social media strategies to maximize exposure for all four properties, positioning them as a leading hospitality player in the Maldives.
My role entails fostering relationships with the international and local media and media agencies in key strategic markets and leveraging synergies and identifying opportunities for the betterment of the Group. I also work with influencers and leading international airlines, event management companies and media houses and keep them informed of relevant news and updates, pitch story starters, media kits, competitions and share relevant press releases to maximise publicity opportunities.
How did winning a Hotelier award change the course of your career?
Winning the Hotelier Award for the Best PR and marketing person was, and still is, one of the most iconic milestones of my career, where being chosen out of 500 nominees in the MENA region at such a young age amongst the industry stalwarts was definitely surreal and a dream come true. It was a great affirmation of my strengths and validation for all my hard work and passion. The award brought me a lot of recognition from my colleagues and business partners, helping me get recognized in the global landscape.
What is the best part of your job?
As a the cluster director of PR and communications, I have complete empowerment to develop tactical and strategic PR & communications strategies to attract international and local media to the resorts. While this is a lot of responsibility, it is extremely rewarding and gets my adrenaline pumping.
I am extremely passionate about my job, so I love brainstorming, pitching stories, competition ideas, to the media and identifying ways in which the hotel can appeal to their target audience. I also enjoy interacting with hotel guests to learn about their experiences and do my little bit to make their stay at the resort unforgettable.The industry has evolved over time and with the current economic climate and increasing competition, we need to be more aggressive to attain a greater share of wallet. However, this makes it more interesting as I am always trying to find ways to be more creative, effective and efficient. I definitely work better under pressure and when I am told this is challenging to achieve, I am even more determined to deliver results and rise to the challenge.
What would you say to this year’s winners?
Be passionate about your work, be open to change and work hard and you will see the returns come through. The PR industry in particular, while may appear as being glamorous and fun from the outside, it is also a lot of hard work as it’s a 24/7 job and basically your social life is non-existent. Its therefore important one enjoys what they do.