In The Hot Seat – Deveekaa Nijhawan

We catch up with Deveeka Nijhawan, Complex PR and Marketing Communications Manager at Le Meridien Dubai Hotel and Conference Centre and Le Meridien Fairway, who tells Team TMN what she thinks about the PR and marketing industry…

Name: Deveekaa Nijhawan

Age: 27

From: India

Current job title: Complex PR and Marketing Communications Manager at Le Meridien Dubai Hotel and Conference Centre and Le Meridien Fairway

When did you first arrive in Dubai?

November 2009

Where did you work prior?

I previously worked with Dun and Bradstreet as Business Development Consultant, which gave me a good platform to understand the market, cultures and norms. Prior to that, I interned at Standard Chartered Bank and once worked part-time as a bouncer…that was definitely interesting and fun.

What were your first impressions of the PR and marketing industry in the Middle East?

I happen to join the industry by chance and it didn’t take long for me to realise how much I loved it and wanted to continue pursuing it. The industry seems to be very glamorous and fun from the outside and don’t get me wrong it is – and that’s why I love it so much, but it is a lot of hard work as it’s a 24/7 job and basically your social life is non-existent. However, I have managed to make it work for me, as my friends are all in the industry so work doesn’t seem like work!

Has your opinion changed much?

The industry has evolved over time and with the current economic climate, 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.

Tell us about your current role…

I manage the PR and marketing strategy for the hotel, which includes promoting the hotel’s 579 rooms and suites, 24 conference and meeting facilities such as the Great Ballroom and 18 restaurants and bars. I also work very closely with local and international media publications, the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) as well as influencers to ensure the hotel is provided with exposure in relevant strategic markets aligned with the brand’s image. My role also includes working closely with the revenue optimisation and F&B team to develop concepts and campaigns to increase loyalty and share of wallet as well as leveraging insights shared by my media friends on customer trends and opportunities. I also work very closely with leading banks, airlines, event management companies and media houses in the industry to foster and maintain partnerships that will ensure the hotel remains as the customers’ preferred event hosting, dining and hospitality partner.

What challenges do you face?

My main challenge is time as there truly isn’t enough hours in a day – between attending several strategic meetings, maintaining regular dialogues with the media, briefing agencies, attending events and so much more, my days are always very packed.

What’s the most rewarding part of your job?

Meeting people from different walks of life and building lifelong relationships

How would you rather be contacted at work?

I love meeting people in person and I am available 24/7 by phone, though I do try to get some sleep in between.

Is traditional marketing still efficient in the UAE today?

In today’s environment, social media and online marketing are very efficient tools in generating immediate results, which can be effectively tracked. However one needs to leverage a mix of communication tools to achieve short-term and long-term strategies. Traditional marketing is still a very effective tool of generating brand awareness and long-term brand equity.

What role has digital media played in the hospitality industry in the UAE?

Digital marketing has become a cornerstone of a robust marketing strategy. In the hospitality industry, online reviews can make or break a brand’s reputation, as consumer-generated content is trusted to be more reliable than the traditional marketing tools. Social media, mobile and web marketing have provided us with access to a range of demographic and socio-economic segments, opening up new revenue streams. Google analytics and programmatic marketing tools can now provide us with extensive real time consumer insight and knowledge which helps in optimising our marketing efforts by being more relevant and personalised.

Describe yourself in five words…

Fun, lovable, passionate, problem-solver and efficient

What’s your most overused saying?

Darling and Sweetheart.

Five things you can’t live without?

Family, friends, food, phone and entertainment

What’s the most exciting thing that has happened to you in your career?

I would say one of the most exciting aspects of my career was winning the Hotelier Middle East Award for the Best PR and Marketing in 2016, where being chosen out of 500 nominees in the MENA region was definitely surreal and a dream come true. It was a great validation for all my hard work and passion.

During my tenure I have had the privilege of meeting celebrities like Lionel Richie, Tom Cruise, Shah Rukh Khan, John Abraham, as well as attended fun events, launches and pre-openings where I met very interesting people from all walks of life.

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

I would be a travel blogger, as I love exploring new places, meeting people from different cultures and sharing stories and my experiences.

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

I am still old school in this aspect and love the feeling of going through a magazine cover-by-cover learning about the latest trends, news and gossip. So it’s print for me!

How do you see the PR and marketing industry changing in the UAE in the coming years?

The industry is at a very interesting juncture whereby digital technology in the UAE is becoming increasingly popular with penetration of smart phone technology increasing at a rapid speed and people becoming more open to share their lives on an open platform. The use of social media in the industry would help in getting access to more people in more efficient and meaningful ways, especially in the hospitality industry which is a very visual and experiential one. It’s definitely an opportunity, but at the same time with information sharing becoming viral it will also be challenging from a PR perspective to ensure protection of the brand image as one poor experience can have devastating long-term repercussions if not managed effectively and swiftly.