Meet the delightful Deveeka Nijhawan, Cluster Director of Marketing Communications and Public Relations at Anantara Resorts Maldives. Her hospitality journey in Maldives started at Niyama Private Island. Our team at Travel Trade Maldives decided to gain some insight into her exciting story.
I was actually born in Goa, and the next 6 months moved to Bombay. I started off my career in Sri Lanka, we were there for 10 years. I did my schooling there. Then I moved to the UK, where I did my graduation for 3 years in business management. Next it was time to see where we were going to move.
We moved to Dubai in 2012. I started my career in hospitality which happened absolutely coincidental. I was working with a consultancy company and the opportunity came up as to if I wanted to join a hospitality company as a PR communication executive. So I said let’s do it.
Most of my life I have lived in hotels because of my Dad. He was the youngest General Manager for Brice. He has been working in the hospitality industry for 30 to 40 years now. So when I told him I’ve got this opportunity, should I go ahead with it? He said working in hotels will be a 24/7 job, are you ready for it? I said yeah, let’s do it. That’s how it really happened. I met the General Manager, met the Director of Sales and Marketing and I started my career in PR and communication.
In 2012 I joined them as PR and communication executive, 2014 beginning I was promoted to a manager, 2016 I was promoted to Senior complex PR and communications manager. Then I won the award for the best PR marketing person of the year by one of the most reputable hospitality industrial awards. Out of 500 nominations, I came top 6 and I won. So that happened in 2016 October and in 2017 I was approached by Niyama Private Island as a Director of PR and Communications.
It’s been over 2 years, moved from Niyama Private Island, still managing that and took over the Cluster role. So taking care of Anantara properties. So yes it’s been a good and very fruitful journey. There’s no looking back, I love doing what I do and meeting new people. I love getting maximum PR opportunities I get and get as much visibility for my 4 resorts.
What’s the most challenging thing that you have faced so far, how did you overcome it?
When I moved from city to island life, the experience was different. You don’t have your malls, cinema, you don’t have your brunches but what you have are the people. It makes all the difference. Working with Niyama and Anantara properties has actually been like a warm welcome to a family. They say welcome to paradise and welcome to the family and they actually mean it. The people are very genuinely, very friendly and they accept you with open arms.
The challenges would be, given that you are working for an international brand where the top markets are: UK, Germany, Russia, all international. So it’s all about getting your plans in place and ensuring that you know exactly what you are doing for the next 3 to 6 months, especially given that your market is so competitive. You always have to find new, innovative and creative ways to be there in the market, to have some news worthy stories. It’s about working with different departments and bringing newsworthy creative feed to the market.
What do you consider to be your biggest achievement during your career in the hospitality industry?
I would say my most success would be both in my experience in Dubai and in Maldives. At Dubai, month after month getting the hotel I worked with on the map, getting as much as media opportunities. We basically saw the return in investment as well with the business coming in. I would say one of my biggest accomplishments would be launching one of the largest ballrooms in Dubai, which can accommodate over 1000 people. I launched a whole new wing of 196 rooms in the presence of his highness. Out of 18 restaurant concepts, I have relaunched about 10 concepts in Dubai.
In Maldives with my experience with Niyama, Anantara Dhigu, Anantara Veli and Naladhu private island, my accomplishment again i would say is getting the maximum visibility and coverage for all 4 of my resorts. It is not easy. Everyone thinks it’s Maldives and everyone wants to come but it’s the competition that you are dealing with. Many other properties and brands are there but it is about the relationship that I have built over the years that always puts my resorts on top compared to the others. So I would say my relationship management and my go-to and positive attitude that has always got the maximum amount of mileage for all 4 of my resorts.
What’s the best advice you can give to those looking to join the hospitality industry?
They have to be focused. They need to understand it’s a lot of hard work. It’s not going to be an easy journey because you always have to think out of the box. Be creative, always think of new ideas. We are in 2020 and we are entering 2021. There’s going to be a lot more new technologies. You need to be more digitally savvy, especially if you want to cut out the clutter, break out the competition and always stand out. You need to be ready. It is all about you being focused on your vision and what you want to achieve in the long run. It is one of the best professions. I have been working for 6-7 years and there is no looking back. I would not have it any other way.