Ahmed Naween is the Head of Central Reservations at Aitken Spence Hotels & Resorts, Maldives. Having embarked on the hotelier journey with Aitken Spence in 2003, Naween has carved an illustrious career for himself throughout the years. Here is his story.
Born and brought up in Hithadhoo of Addu City, Maldives, Ahmed Naween completed his education in Southern Secondary School which is currently known as Addu High School. After completing his O/L exams, he continued serving at the school as Cadet Master for three more years. During the time when tourism was budding in Maldives, Naween noticed the opportunities and jumped on the bandwagon. On 06th June 2003, Naween joined the first batch of Central Reservations Department for Aitken Spence Resorts.
Unaware that he was stepping into a career which would lead him to become an iconic hotelier, Naween initially joined reservations seeing it as a gateway for his passion and curiosity to explore the internet. At that time, the Central Reservations department was handled from Colombo, Sri Lanka. Later on, the management took on the decision to establish a separate department for the Male’ sector. Young Naween was lucky enough to be a part of those initial instigations.
In 2006, three years after he joined the group as a Reservations Assistant, Naween was promoted to the position of Reservations Executive. By 2010, he had made his way up the corporate ladder, becoming a Senior Reservations Executive and then Assistant Manager for Reservations. In between his years with the luxury brand, he was out of the company for two years gaining experience in the travel industry with “Get into Maldives Travels.”
Today, he manages an inventory of 750 rooms with two popular Aitken Spence Resort brands; Adaaran and Heritance in Maldives as the Head of Central Reservations.
The Reservations Department is the nerve centre of the resort chain and they make the first impression for the resort where they get all types of information that will make the operations staff to become proactive. They pass information such as guest preferences, celebrations, what they like to do or not want to do and up to their dietary plans to name a few. The Reservation process is the first step for any guest when they start planning their vacation.
From a time when fax machine was used to handle reservations to the point in the current era of the internet-of-things, Naween has seen it all and evolved with time. Today, Naween and his team handle over 1000 inquiries and from 700 to 800 booking nights per day for all seven Aitken Spence properties.
Naween’s 17 years in the industry has given him the ability to master understanding the expectations of different types of travellers. Having started working with 50 to 60 travel agents, Naween now deals with over 1000 travel agents including Online Travel Agents.
Traditionally, the average guest stay was from 07 to 10 days. However, over the course of time, this has reduced to 03 to 04 days due to the increase in certain major markets, and this increases the workload in reservation operations. In the past too, major markets used to be Italy, the UK and Germany although today, this has also changed incredibly. The tourism industry is a very sensitive sector and each and every positive and negative aspect of trading in this industry is easily noticeable.
In any part of the world, we see trends of ups and downs in this business through bookings. We started with three members and today, we have a vibrant and multi-cultural eight team who speak eight languages and I see that our success purely depends on the team, the leadership and support that I have from the Aitken Spence company.”Ahmed Naween
Naween’s dedication, hard work and continued passion has helped him reach where he is today. He sacrificed many of his days off while working extra hours to pave his way up the corporate ladder. As for the future, Naween plans to expand to other parts of the industry and excel in the field of sales and marketing.
Your workplace becomes your second home. Nothing will come to you on a silver platter when you start working in any field. The first year will be challenging and may be the second year as well. However, the sky will not appear cloudy forever. So, if you stick to one goal with a positive mindset, you will ultimately be what you want to be in time. If you sit and ponder on little challenges that come your way, you will never be able to succeed in life. But any challenge you face will make you stronger and allow you to move forward to achieve what you want.”Ahmed Naween
Ahmed Naween’s journey proves that everything in life happens for a reason and that there is a plan for everyone. When he joined as a Reservations Assistant, he was unaware he would be calling Aitken Spence his second home.