Ibrahim Shareef – Group Director of Sales & Marketing at Furaveri Maldives

We had the privilege of interviewing Ibrahim Shareef, the Group Director of Sales & Marketing at Furaveri Maldives, delving into his captivating career journey that paved the way for his current role. 

In this interview, he shares insights into staying informed about international market trends and adapting commercial strategies for Furaveri Maldives’ culturally rich clientele.

Could you briefly outline your career journey and highlight the key experiences that have led you to the position of Group Director of Sales & Marketing at Furaveri Maldives?

My hospitality journey started with a travel agency that my uncle owned, Sea N See, in an era where the internet was a luxury. I started from the Reservations & Marketing department while I was in school. After higher studies, I was assigned to the Sales and Marketing department and spent eight more years there. In 2007, I moved to AAA Hotels & Resorts as an Assistant Sales and Marketing Manager and climbed up to the position of General Manager – Contracting. I joined Furaveri Maldives in 2018 as the Director of Sales and Marketing. Since then, this is my home. 

How do you stay informed about international market trends and adapt your commercial strategies to cater to a diverse and culturally rich clientele at Furaveri Maldives?

A combination of experience and constant research on the developments of the future travel industry is the key to understanding trends and adapting to the changes. Maintaining a close relationship with industry professionals helps as well.  Constant research, feedback from our clients and knowledge of customers’ buying behaviour are crucial elements, too.  We try to cater to the needs of our valued clients, from very simple requests to sophisticated ones.  We diversify our offers and services to tailor those to the needs of our clients in order to excel in our performance and service delivery. We infuse those findings into our commercial strategy to cater to our diverse and culturally rich clientele. 

Could you share the unique experiences that make Furaveri Maldives stand out from other resorts in Raa Atoll?

Furaveri Maldives is one of the best islands in the Maldives. Its natural beauty is breathtaking. During the development of the island and to date, the natural vegetation has been kept intact and has been a priority to maintain. The core aspects of the island, nature, culture and wellness are the three fundamental pillars on which the resort was built, and service delivery is embraced. 

The location of the island is unique too; the incredible house reef just a few strokes from the beach and proximity to world-class dive sites and feeding stations of the pelagic are the product’s unique identity, like the easy access to the UNESCO Biosphere. While the natural beauty compliments the island, the resort was developed to give our guests space and privacy in the lush natural surroundings. Did you know that we have one of the best wellness villages in the Maldives? It is true.  We have the largest wellness villages in the Maldives in a uniquely designed area offering a holistic approach to well-being that is set within the lush foliage to give the client the most natural sights and sounds of an island.

Furaveri Maldives is owned, built, and operated by local management, delivering authentic Maldivian experiences that focus on bringing unique and luxurious Maldivian hospitality. We are focused on acquiring local talent to maintain our unique service offering, and all these help us to stand out.

What approaches are used to establish and nurture relationships with travel agencies, tour operators, and other key stakeholders to drive business growth at the property?

We believe in building lasting relationships, and relationship marketing is an integral part of our sales & marketing strategy. Our partners, the tour operators and travel agents are vital for our success. We meet them regularly during trade events and visit them personally during our travels. We invite them to visit the property for first-hand experience of the product they are selling. We listen to our tour operators and travel agents carefully, and based on their comments and concerns, we refine our products and services to deliver a positive and superior experience. For Furaveri Maldives, our local travel partners and media are also part of our success. 

How would you collaborate with other departments to ensure that the commercial strategies align with the overall guest satisfaction and brand positioning goals?

The sales & Marketing department does not work alone, and when we develop sales and marketing strategies, we discuss extensively with all operational departments. It is a collaborative effort between all departments.  At least once a month, we meet to refer back to what we did right and what went wrong. We discuss and try to find solutions to overcome any issues in order to refine our efforts towards overall guest satisfaction. We see success as a feast for our collaborative efforts over the past few years. 

How do you see your role contributing to the overall success and growth of Furaveri Maldives?

When a team works together to achieve targets, that is my success. I believe in collaborative and collective efforts for the overall growth and success of the property. And to bring individuals together as a team makes me proud. 

I have a good relationship with the management and board of directors. Communication between the board of directors is very open. It is quite convenient to elaborate what we envision and what we are trying to achieve. Also, working with the resort operational team and head of the departments has brought overall success. 

We have maintained and built on our trust with partners and guests. We have seen steady growth over the eight years since the resort’s opening. Our huge repeater percentage is a testament to our success. On 25th January 2024, as we celebrated our 8th anniversary, we are proud to announce the launching of two fine dining outlets: a dedicated vegetarian restaurant on the beach – Ocean Spice, and a Mediterranean restaurant overwater – Olives and Vine. We will continue to add more value by curating a superior product that offers a delightful culinary journey and a holistic wellness lifestyle brought together in the most beautiful natural island home setting