Narelle McDougall

Director of Business Development – Vakkaru Maldives Resort

Australian. Worked in Sales & Marketing for hotels and resorts in Australia from 1986 until 1997. Transferred to Singapore with Parkroyal hotels then taken over by the InterContinental group, continued in Singapore with IHG, moved to Le Meridien Bali in 2003 then to Minor Hotel Group (Anantara) in 2006, opened Anantara Phuket Villas in 2008 then moved to oversee sales & marketing for Anantara in the Maldives from 2010, PER AQUUM added to a portfolio with MHG group in 2013, overseeing S&M for the 6 MHG properties in the Maldives until end of 2015. Took 2016 off as sabbatical year. Joined Vakkaru Maldives in Dec 2016 and spent a year in Dubai until the resort opened, now happily living on the resort in Baa Atoll since January 2018.

How did you get started with your career?

Joining sales for hotels was more by accident than design, a happy accident, and wonderful outcome. In 1986, while recovering from a broken leg and unable to make sales calls to travel agents in my role at Hertz Rent A Car, I met a lady who suggested I speak with her friend at Southern Pacific Hotels; I joined them once the plaster came off my leg and had been working in sales & marketing in hotels and resorts ever since.

What are some of your notable successes?

Resort openings, rebrandings, repositionings are definitely challenged I rise to. The opening of Anantara Phuket, Villas and the most recent opening of Vakkaru Maldives are two successes I note with fondness.

What are some of the challenges that you have faced?

Having worked in Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and the Maldives for the last 20+ years, the cultural diversity of both team members and international mix of guests can be challenging, learning how to balance happy team, happy guests, happy business partners – not insurmountable but challenging to get the mix right and keep all stakeholders happy, including owners!

What is your experience of TTM? What are you looking forward to in TTM 2018?

I thought TTM 2017 was fantastic; it was heart-warming to see this event happen for the first time, and I am looking forward to meeting old friends and new friends during the meetings taking place in Male this year.

What is your advice for young adults interested in entering the Tourism Industry?

Simply Be heartfelt; guests can tell if you are not sincere and just say what you have been shown to say/Be intuitive, if it does not come naturally then learn from others and work hard on this skill. Understanding when to and when not to approach guests, those who want to chat with you, those who just want what they ordered or asked for and then be left alone, Reading guests body language and manner – if you are intuitive, then you can surprise, delight and succeed.