An award-winning professional with over seven years of experience in hospitality, Deveekaa Nijhawan excels in implementing creative Public Relation strategies. She was recently promoted as Cluster Director of PR & Communications of four properties offering some of the most exclusive private islands.
Most hotels get stellar clients or customers who are always a joy to serve but very few would go that extra mile for guests to ensure that they well catered to. Deveekaa Nijhawan, Cluster Director of PR and Communications, Anantara Dhigu Maldives Resort, Anantara Veli Maldives Resort, Naladhu Private Island Maldives and Niyama Private Islands Maldives, strives to deliver superlative experiences to her guests and believes in the holy grail of the customer is king. She is always at the forefront of fostering relationships with international and local media in strategic markets and leveraging synergies whilst identifying opportunities for betterment of the group.
Tracing the beginnings
“I happened 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 glamorous from the outside and that’s precisely one of the reasons I love it so much; but it also entails a lot of hard work,” Nijhawan reveals.
She started her career at Le Méridien Dubai Hotel & Conference Centre in 2012. She recalls, “I grew from joining the hotel as a Public Relations and Communications Executive to head the department within two years. I launched a new hotel wing, one of the largest ballrooms in the UAE, fostered several strategic partnerships and relaunched 10 of the 18 F&B restaurants. This experience helped me significantly at Niyama as Middle East is one of our key strategic markets. Having been successful in garnering extensive PR coverage for Niyama and helping with the brand’s repositioning strategy, my caliber and efforts were recognised by the group and the corporate office resulting in my recent promotion.”
The choice of a career is inadvertently dependent on a very good support system that may have been responsible for the way things turn out to be. Nijhawan explains, “My father was the GM with Oberoi Hotels & Resorts. As he took over different hotels, we travelled a lot and I learnt to embrace different cultures early in my life. When I was very young, I had told my father I would follow his footsteps and join the industry. No one took me seriously then and now I am here…life does come full circle indeed! Getting into PR happened by chance as I initially thought I would get into the business side of things, but it seemed destiny had other plans for me.”
Awards & accolades
One of the most exciting aspects of her career, Nijhawan mentions, was winning the Hotelier Middle East Award for the Best PR and Marketing Person, where she was chosen out of 500 nominees in the MENA region. “This was a great validation for all my hard work and passion during my time at Le Meridien Dubai Hotel & Conference Centre. I continued this streak at Niyama Private Islands Maldives, wherein I successfully repositioned the brand as a luxury lifestyle destination in the international media. In less than a year I also managed to grow the social media following of the resort exponentially; Instagram from 25,000 to 160,000 (540%) and Facebook from 19,000 to 32,489 (71%),” Nijhawan says.
Wave of change
Hospitality in the Middle East has undergone substantial transformation over the past few years. While the industry has evolved, guest’s needs have also changed and become more sophisticated. Immediate accessibility, mobile fixation, personalised experiences and contradictory preferences are just some of the challenges that hotels face daily. “However, this makes it more interesting as I am always trying to find ways to be more creative. When I am told something is challenging to achieve, I am even more determined to deliver results and rise to the challenge,” shares an excited Nijhawan.
Moving from the comfort zone in Dubai to a totally different market may seem a rocky path to trod on but Nijhawan has her own story to reveal. “While the region was new to me, I was able to adapt very quickly; thanks to the complete support and empowerment entrusted in me by my General Manager, DOSM and the Corporate Office. Their confidence and trust instilled in me a great degree of motivation to execute my job responsibilities and deliver beyond their highest expectations. One doesn’t really stop working in an island and many times I find myself working 18 hours a day but I am not complaining as only few get the opportunity to live and work in paradise!”