Digital Marketing Manager for Ayada Maldives
Hi, I am Daniel and most people know me as a digital marketing expert for hotels and resorts. Since 2012, I have helped dozens of companies and organizations to improve their digital marketing performance and profitability. In 2016, I started my hotel e-commerce company and advertising agency that serves clients all over the world.
How did you get started with your career?
I graduated with a BSC degree in hotel management and since my early 20s, I was always involved in some e-commerce and digital marketing businesses. Combining online skills with hospitality management proved to be a very powerful combination in the early 2010s when hotel and travel marketing online was in its early stages.
I started with Best Western, then soon landed a marketing manager role in a ski resort in Switzerland. Later on, I spent some time in London then in 2012 I relocated to Malta where I started supporting local hotels as a consultant.
My career leveled up when I was invited to Corinthia Hotels to manage PPC advertising to all hotels (10 at that time) of the group. During these years I developed a close relationship with people at Google and numerous hotel managers, GMs and DOSMs all around the world who later started calling me for consultation. To respond to this demand it was an obvious decision to open my hotel e-commerce consulting company and advertising agency, primarily servicing clients in exotic luxury destinations. Between 2016 and 2018 I became a partner in multiple travel-related businesses and other investments.
I became a digital marketing consultant for Ayada Maldives in 2016 and after two years in 2018, I joined the team on the island.
What are some of your notable successes?
Ayada Maldives was always among my favorite projects. We came a long way since we started and I am happy to see that many of the leading resorts are trying to mimic what we are doing online. In 2016 the resort had little to no online presence but in 2 years we built up a brand presence that exceeds our competitors from international brands. Our brand awareness, reach and web traffic is significantly higher compared to most recognized brands in this category here in the Maldives.
Talking about benchmarks, the retail revenue of Ayada Maldives is among the best and we managed to improve even when our competitors were in steep decline.
The key to our digital success is simple. We do what makes sense, constantly look for improvement opportunities, remain consistent and always learn from the results of our actions. We embrace technology and practices if it helps our work or adds value to our guest.
What are some of the challenges that you have faced?
Probably the biggest challenge I am facing constantly is the stubbornness of GMs and DOSMs who fail to understand that digital marketing is not just “something to do” but have already become an essential part of generating revenue. These people still live in the 90s when marketing was about tour operators and brochures. Today, 90% of travel planning starts online and about 70% of travel decisions are made based on information available online.
It is often said that the Maldives is a tour operator driven destination. This is definitely as digital marketing, brand communication and retail conversion techniques used by local resorts are generally so poor that it could not yet win a larger share of the distribution mix.
Companies still give preference to agents and tour operators as they are not confident enough to take a risk and invest into building their retail business, which by the way is a lot more profitable compared to traditional distribution. My biggest challenge was always this, to change the mindset of management teams and make them confident to step up their digital marketing.
The management team of Ayada Maldives has a very progressive approach to digital marketing, everyone in the team is willing to put efforts into becoming better and generating more revenue on our retail channels. Probably our positive mindset and eagerness to improve is the biggest advantage over other resorts that we have left behind online.
What is your advice for young adults who wish to pursue a career in digital marketing in the hospitality industry?
My advice is to upcoming digital marketing professionals is to never settle with average results. Always keep improving themselves and keep pushing for better results for their company, even if they need to change stuff, conflict, cross lines or break the rules.
Today it is very easy to start a digital marketing career as online tools and practical knowledge is widely available online – so expect a lot of competition when applying for jobs.
To become outstanding in this field, one needs to understand traditional marketing principles, understand the needs and expectations of the potential guests of the property, build up brand communication standards, manage relevant advertising campaigns and be able to implement two-way communication channels that will make customers stick with the brand.
It takes time, attention and testing to build up a successful digital marketing setup but definitely worth the efforts as it will be generating additional revenue on auto-pilot.
So never settle with mediocre practices and “tried it but did not work” solutions. Exceptional results come with exceptional results. As I always say, doing average things will only get average results.