In The Hot Seat – Crystal Chesters

Crystal Chesters, Group Editor for Hospitality titles at BNC Publishing tells TMN about her current role and what she thinks about the media industry in the Middle East…

Name: Crystal Chesters

Age: 30

From: Scotland

Current job title: Group Editor for Hospitality titles at BNC Publishing

When did you first arrive in Dubai?

November 2013

Where did you work prior?

Prior to arriving in Dubai I worked for VisitScotland looking after stakeholder communications and producing its publications for the tourism industry. I later moved to Dubai, where I worked as Editor of Hotelier Middle East at ITP Publishing before joining BNC Publishing.

What were your first impressions of the media industry in the Middle East?

It’s very fast-paced with small teams looking after large workloads.

Has your opinion changed much?

Not really, but now I’m used to it!

Tell us about your current role…

I oversee BNC Publishing’s hospitality portfolio, which comprises of the events, publications and digital activity of Catering News Middle East and Hotel News Middle East. I am also still the Editor of Catering News Middle East, a role I’ve been doing since January, 2016.

What challenges do you face?

I’d say the biggest challenge of my role is juggling a wide range of responsibilities – from social media to events and awards and of course the monthly magazines. In addition, dealing with a huge volume of emails with interview pitches, events, meeting requests and press releases is time consuming and can be stressful. However, this is part of my role and it’s important to be organised to stay on top of it all.

What’s the most rewarding part of your job?

Getting to try out the latest restaurant openings and travelling to different countries on press trips.

How would you rather be contacted at work?

By email – phone calls can be intrusive, particularly during deadline week. Whatsapp is even more intrusive, unless I know the contact already and that relationship has already been established.

What do you think of publications in the region?

I’d say overall the quality is lower than in more established markets like the United States and Europe. If you look at the teams on international titles here they are far smaller than the teams you’d find in London or New York and with the current economic climate, resources continue to be stretched and this, of course, has an impact on quality. That said, the Middle East is a very young and developing market when it comes to publishing and there are some great titles doing well in the region.

How has print media managed to stay relevant in today’s digital community?

I think it’s currently still relevant, particularly when it comes to B2B magazines. That said, publishing companies are being forced to diversify and move quickly into the digital age to keep up. I think challenging times lie ahead but there will always be a need for quality journalism.

What do you think of media ethics in the region?

I think it’s challenging. You’ve got to be careful when talking about anything culturally sensitive and the defamation laws are very different to what we’re used to in the UK. Working for trade magazines, it’s not a huge issue, but for those journalists working on newspapers I imagine it can be challenging.

What role has digital media played when it comes to reader engagement in the magazine industry?

It’s really important, you’ve got to push content on social media as a lot of your web traffic will come from this. All of our magazines have digital editions and every feature gets published online and in our newsletters, which go out to a large database.

Describe yourself in five words…

Adventurous, kind, open-minded, tenacious and forgetful.

What’s the most exciting thing to happen to you in your career?

Going on a press trip to New York. It was my first time there and I went to see the new Element brand from Starwood.

What’s your most overused saying?

At the end of the day…

Five things you can’t live without?

At the moment, my daily flat white from Costa, The Salad Jar, Bobbi Brown Pot Rouge, Kerastase shampoo and Bojack Horseman.

If you weren’t in your current role, what would you be doing?

I’d be a painter if someone would pay me to do that.

What is your favourite form of media (i.e; TV, radio, print)?

Does Netflix count?

How do you see the media industry changing in the Middle East in the coming years?

I think it will get harder for the newspaper industry in particular and we could see more closures and redundancies across the region. I think both newspapers and magazines will continue to diversify into digital and video.

BNC Publishing makes new promotion

Media production and digital house, BNC Publishing has promoted Crystal Chesters to the role of Group Editor for hospitality titles. Former Editor of Hotelier Middle East at ITP Media Group and most recently, Editor at BNC Publishing for Catering News Middle East, Crystal will now oversee the editorial growth and development for both hospitality publications under BNC – Catering News Middle East and Hotel News Middle East as well as digital content, events and awards.

“Having been in the region for over three years editing hotel and F&B publications, I am delighted to have the opportunity to oversee BNC Publishing’s young and fast-growing hospitality portfolio,” says Crystal. “As we move into the third year of Hotel News Middle East, I am excited to help set the agenda for the publication and build the brand’s portfolio of events, while continuing to consolidate the profile of Catering News Middle East on the region’s competitive publishing market.”

In2 Consulting welcomes new Director of PR

Dubai-based strategic corporate communications consultancy, In2 Consulting has welcomed Louise Oakley to the role of Director of PR. A journalist for over a decade working on titles such as Hotelier Middle East and Caterer Middle East at ITP Publishing, Louise was most recently Director of Marketing and Sales for the Jumeirah Group, where she was responsible for the marketing, PR and digital strategy for a portfolio of 40 F&B outlets.

In her new role, Louise will support Managing Partner Anne Bleeker and the team with PR strategy and planning, account management, business development, media relations and content development for the agency’s hospitality PR accounts.

“At In2 Consulting, every client works with the Partners and Directors of the business and I love this personalised, collaborative approach,” says Louise. “I’m looking forward to creating exciting campaigns for our clients.”

Anne adds “Louise’s experience means she is uniquely placed to deliver a results-driven PR strategy for hotel, F&B and travel clients and create stories that cut through the clutter in today’s media. We’re delighted to welcome her to our talented team as we focus on growth in 2016.”

Catering News Middle East welcomes new Editor

BNC Publishing has welcomed Crystal Chesters to the role of Editor of Catering News Middle East. Previously Editor of Hotelier Middle East, Crystal has over four years of experience in media. In her new role, she will be driving editorial strategy for the publication, as well as growth of the publication across Dubai’s media landscape. She joins Catering News Middle East as it celebrates its first anniversary and takes on the role of official media partner and conference producer for Gulfood.

“I have been in Dubai now for two years and have gained an excellent insight into the region’s media marketplace and it’s vibrant, fast-growing hospitality industry,” says Crystal. “I feel I am very well placed to make a valuable contribution to the team at BNC, and I’m very excited about the opportunities ahead.”

Penelope Walsh leaves Time Out

Penelope Walsh has been appointed as the Online Editor for Hotelier, Caterer and Arabian Travel News magazines. Previously Eating Out Editor for Time Out Dubai for the last three and a half years, Penelope will continue to cover restaurant, bar, hotel and travel news across the region more in depth and with industry-relevant perspective.

She will focus on new openings of hotels and restaurants, industry appointments, new hotel and F&B operational features and relevant on-trade developments.

Rahul Odedra joins Bloomberg Businessweek ME

Rahul Odedra has joined Bloomberg Businessweek Middle East (ME) as Deputy Editor. He will be working on the fortnightly publication under Editor Cathal McElroy.

Rahul previously worked as Editor of at ITP Publishing and contributed as Deputy Editor at Hotelier Middle East magazine. Prior to moving to Dubai in 2014, Rahul was based in the UK, working across different titles including Professional Adviser and The Moodie Report.

Shaheen Nouman joins ITP’s Hospitality Group

Shaheen Nouman has joined ITP Publishing’s Hospitality Group as Staff Writer. Most recently, Shaheen assisted the team on Ahlan! Arabia, and prior to this held a role in marketing and communications with Dubai-based, high-fashion retailer ValleyDez. Shaheen is also a Founding Member of fashion, lifestyle and fitness blog Cherry Cross. In her new role, Shaheen will produce content – both in print and online – across the Hospitality Group’s titles which include Hotelier Middle East, Caterer Middle East and Arabian Travel News. In addition to this, Shaheen will participate in the organisation and execution of various events and conferences held by the Hospitality Group throughout the year.