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BOH Interview: Ajman Hotel's Mariela Hristova

Hotelier Middle East Staff, December 11th, 2018

What is your career background, and how did you did you get into hospitality marketing?

Marketing has always been a part of my responsibilities. I have a strong background in the executive administration and office management field, contributing to creative and events projects. I worked in the corporate offices of ING Bank N.V. and Alcatel Lucent (now Nokia), serving senior-level executives back home in Bulgaria. I narrowed it down during my tenure with The Ajman Palace Hotel seven years ago.

What are your responsibilities at the hotel?

I am responsible for handling all aspects of planned publicity campaigns, PR and marketing activities, as well as working toward the common goal of building the identity and enhancing the reputation and awareness of the new Ajman Hotel managed by Blazon Hotels.

What are some of the current trends in hospitality marketing?

The world is changing on a whim; it becomes hard to scale and differentiate between so many hotels in the UAE. I stick to planning ahead, see what’s coming, be equipped and prepared to manage the changes when they happen. In my opinion, one of the trends is engaging with creative content, not advertising; content that influences and inspires people is what matters. Nowadays people ignore ads. At times, I find them annoying and irrelevant. Very rarely do I click on ads and even then, I only click on them if they are relevant. Building relationships with influencers helps us reach new audiences and lend credibility to our hotel; that way we engage and build trust with their audiences too.

What are some of the strategies you have developed for Ajman Hotel?

Our strategy as Ajman Hotel managed by Blazon Hotels is to grow our identity, as part of it is the personalised engagement with our audience on social media platforms and our guests who have experienced our products and services before and continue doing it until now. Remain honest and factual about who we are. It is also vital for us to understand how our guests and customers communicate with us and be aware of their communication preferences.

What are some of the challenges with the new brand launch?

Sometimes, you just need to start over. Ajman Hotel now carries the Blazon Hotels brand as part of the newly established management company, Smart Hospitality Solutions (SHS). This is a rebirth story of the first five-star property that opened doors in 1998 and helped put the emirate of Ajman on the map. You see, Ajman Hotel is not new to the business; it has only changed its clothes. Building up a new reputation and overcoming past perceptions about the hotel is a challenge. Our focus is to build up our new brand identity that will benefit our business and audience.

What is your ultimate goal?

Growing the identity of Ajman Hotel by Blazon Hotels that benefits our business and our audience is my ultimate goal.

How important is it for a hotel to offer deals or incentives to stay competitive?

Competition is a challenge and a drive. It is vital to market yourself right, to know your competitors, and to understand your guests and partners - offer a reasonable price for your products, enhance on-property experience; implement a direct booking strategy, reward the loyalty of your guests, and of course motivate your team, are steps from the cycle of staying competitive.

What would you say are your major achievements at your hotel?

I recently joined the Ajman Hotel team and it is too early to talk about personal achievements; however, as a property, key achievements to mention are enhancing the on-property experience for the guests and expanding in markets where we had no presence before.