Dina Naeem, regional PR director in SPG, was interviewed by “Safari magazine” regarding her personal life and Marriott’s acquisition of Starwood Hotels and Resorts. Marriott is positioned as the largest hotel chain in the world, surpassing Hilton hotels in terms of rooms’ number and market value. Marriott currently possesses 30 prestigious hotel brands that enabled the hotel to hold a leading position in the scope of hospitality.
After full acquisition of the Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Marriott International is the largest hotel chain in the world
What are the consequences of Marriott International’s recent acquisition of Starwood Hotels?
After the acquisition of Starwood Hotels and Resorts, Marriott maintained the name of the programme “SPG” in Egypt, including 11 hotels. Marriott International runs 20 hotels in Egypt and more than 6,000 in the 146 countries around the world, as it is considered one of the largest tourism companies worldwide.
With Sheraton Cairo Hotel re-opening, can you tell what do you feel ?
Sheraton Cairo hotel opens on June 1st. Sheraton Cairo was the first in the hotel chain to be founded in Africa in 1970, closed for six years now, its re-opening brings me a lot of happiness. This reopening is a special occasion to celebrate as Egyptians and foreigners alike shared countless memories at Sheraton Cairo.
Do you have new openings in the near future?
Definitely, the first opening of St. Regis in Cairo will take place in the coming September/October.
What are the incentives offered by Marriott Hotels to encourage internal tourism in Egypt?
We have a variety of offers, for instance the wedding package. It includes the celebration in one of the hotel’s wedding halls in Cairo, accompanied by a honeymoon in Sharm El Sheikh, Hurghada or any of the other hotel branches in Egypt. Moreover, other offers include two days in Hurghada and two days in Sharm El Sheikh, or two days in Luxor and two in Aswan, whereby destinations and duration are according to client’s preferences.
Did Pope Francis recent visit to Egypt had any impact on the tourism sector?
Definitely it had a positive impact in terms of reviving the Egyptian tourism industry. Let me tell you that visits made by international celebrities to Egypt, and the consequential international media coverage of such events, automatically multiplies tourist numbers.
This seemed quite obvious, when Lionel Messi, and Will Smith visited Egypt. The international media accompanying the football player Lionel Messi as well as those accompanying the American actor Will Smith did play a role in shedding light on Egypt, and this is exactly what we need at this point. Will Smith photo kissing Sphinx went viral in international media, ranging from press to social media networks, and received more than eight million likes on the actor’s personal account.
I can affirm that, official celebrities’ visits do promote Egypt’s tourism.
How do you assess the current tourism activity in Egypt?
At this point, I dare say that the tourism sector is highly active, it certainly witnessed a significant increase over the last three months, as the records indicate the Egypt’s hotels are packed, and among our main visitors whom we are honoured to host are Indian and Chinese nationals. There were no vacancies in all Marriott branches across Egypt, for the last couple of days.
Shifting to more personal questions, how did you manage to secure leadership positions in such a competitive business? How did it all start?
I have a passion for work, this is the secret force behind my success. Tourism was not my area of specialty, yet I exceled in it. My field of study was Psychology and I actually worked in a psychiatric hospital before entering the tourism field. It all started in 1998 when my job application for an administrative position was accepted at Le Méridien hotel. I climbed my way up the ladder, and eventually I was promoted to fill the position of regional PR manager of Starwood hotels; which is currently owned by Marriott.
Who is your role model?
My late father is my role model on the personal level. While my manager, Suzy Naga, is my role model on the business level. Naga was my mentor back when I first entered the field and I do owe her a lot. Naga held the position of regional PR and marketing manager at Le Méridien Egypt.
Can you tell me more about your future aspirations?
My career aspirations are all attained and I’m highly satisfied with my achievements, yet I long for the golden years of tourism in Egypt. The country possesses third of the world’s monuments, a variety of beaches and exquisite landscapes. Hence, Egypt will never be dropped out of the tourism map.
Your new post requires travelling abroad, does this negatively impact your family life?
On the contrary, I can successfully manage my time so as to secure a balance between my career and family life.