Terje Abrams, public relations manager, Fairmont Dubai opens up to Hotel News Middle East…
Describe your first ever role in the hotel industry? When I decided to move to the UAE in October 2013, I joined one of the Europe’s oldest luxury hotel group’s properties in Ajman as a hostess. There wasn’t much hosting as such to be done –instead I was needed to support the beach restaurant’s busy daily operations by the beachfront. Even though it was November, the daily heat went up to 35C under the sun and wearing a dark uniform made it even more challenging.
Who is the person who has inspired you most in your career? I have been truly inspired by my previous general manager Kai Schukowski, who has inspired me since the moment I had my first interview with him. The support, trust and belief he placed on me since the beginning has made me what I am today. He took a gamble with me in 2015, when I was still carrying out the hostess duties and said: “We have a vacancy for the public relations position and I was wondering if you are interested.”
How do you view the hotel scene in the region? I feel privileged to see Dubai developing ahead of Expo 2020 and to witness the growth in hotel supply – not only in the UAE but overall in the region. It’s an exciting era we’re in, as every hotel is trying to be different – from its food and beverage offerings, to various service touch points.
What is the biggest challenge of your role? The intriguing topic revolving around influencers has arose only during the past few years, which I consequently feel that is one of the challenges. I tend to be very sceptical about the fancy imagery and increasing numbers – if there is no measurable ROI in the collaboration, I’d rather not tie up with the influencer.
What is your favourite aspect of your role? One of the many aspects I’m passionate about is the success stories of our colleagues. I am keen to learn more about their roles, to be ultimately able to highlight our talents as well in media.
If you could work in any hotel in the world which would it be? During my visit to the United States this summer, I fell in love with Fairmont Grand Del Mar, located on the scenic hills of San Diego. The nature, the surroundings and the gigantic hotel premises got me stunned – there’s a long hiking trail, a golf course, horse stables, a lake and even two tennis courts.
What tip would you share with new staff starting out in the hotel industry in the region? Steve Jobs once said: “Stay humble, stay hungry”. I would also add the importance of patience, which I believe to be one of the most crucial pillars when starting off with anything new.
If you could invite any three people around for dinner who would they be? My mentor Kai Schukowski whom I always look up to; my mother who I miss the most from back home in Estonia and Richard Branson, who I find to be one of the most inspiring entrepreneurs.
If you had to live on a desert island for a year what would you bring with you? A thick notebook and a supply of pens – I’d love to document everything that’s happening during the remote year.