With over 16 years experience in hospitality sales, Corina has held prominent positions within well-known global luxury hotel brands from Intercontinental Hotels & Resorts, Dorchester Collection and her last role as Head of Middle Eastern and Diplomatic Sales for Corinthia Hotel London.
Now her own company focuses on hotel representation for the Middle Eastern market as well as training the staff on how to look after these special VIP clients.
Throughout the years and her roles, Corina has fostered very strong relationships with Royalty and VIP clients who now call her for their requests.
Who are the members of your family?
Husband and son (6)
What you do and who are your clients?
I own my own company, Star-Cat, which represents hotels in the Middle Eastern market. I also do training for companies how to look after clients from the Middle East. My clients are mainly from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, UAE, Kuwait, Morocco and Lebanon.
What was it about hotels that fascinated you as a youngster?
That no day is the same. There is always something exciting happening.
How did you become a Middle Eastern expert?
I felt from all the guests I dealt with at the hotels in my early career, I had the most connection with the clients from the Middle East. I found them very family oriented, very warm and welcoming.
Who has been your most significant mentor in your career and what did you learn from this person?
One of my early Managers knew everyone from the Middle East and he became my mentor, I always asked him, who is connected to whom and how the family dynamics worked. I learnt so much from him. I also enjoyed reading about business people from there and having conversations with clients about the who is who.
What’s the nature and typical pattern of your client work?
It is very unpredictable as a lot of the requests come very last minute and I have to make the impossible, possible. I really enjoy this though, nothing is more thrilling than sorting out a problem with little time. I have booked Heads of State into hotels whilst being on the playground with my son!
How do you juggle clients and their last minute plans especially with being mother?
I have a great support system and to be honest without my husband a lot of this wouldn’t be possible. He understands that I have to take calls late at night, go and meet VIPs at 5 in the morning. It’s part of the job.
Snapchat has become a crucial part for you in engaging with your royal and non-royal clients, tell us about this.
A lot has evolved with the social media and it’s a way to connect much more with your clients. They love the personal relationship. It also gives me so much more insight in their life and what they like and dislike. It’s much easier to engage with them even if they are miles away. You still feel connected. Everything is about pictures and videos.
What client engagement trends do you see emerging in the next couple of years?
I think email won’t be as important, it is already used less and less with the clients from the Middle East. Whatsapp is much more popular as it is instant and much faster.
How do you balance social media time with being present with your son?
I try and consciously take time out over the weekend and also in the evenings or when we play. It’s hard and takes a lot of discipline.
How do you get deeper engagement with your son and what tips can you share on this?
Mornings are usually not as crazy as afternoons for me, so I like to talk to him on our way to nursery. I also always make time to read bedtime stories and talk to him then. If I have to take calls I will explain him why and who the person was.
You say, “small unexpected gestures make all the difference”, can you tell us what you mean by this and give some examples of the impact of these?
It is very important to remember small things about clients. They really appreciate it a lot. Sending notes for their important holidays, like Ramadan and Eid as well as Middle Eastern Mothers Day make all the difference.
What are the benefits of being a woman in your line of work?
I can deal with both male and female clients. You can see them at their houses. I also like to think that women have a different way of solving and diffusing difficult situations.
What is the most surprising request you’ve received from a client to date?
To be honest, there is very little that surprises me now. Anything is possible, whether someone wants a teacher flown to the Middle East or needs a special doctor for a last minute appointment.
What typical stereotyped views on Middle Eastern culture do you see debunked through your work?
That people from the Middle East are not familiar with western culture and don’t respect them. They are so educated, a lot of them have studied in England or the US, they have come to Europe since they were little so they are very familiar and respecting of our culture. They sometimes know more about our countries than we do.
What protocols do you follow when you visit Middle Eastern countries and what have you learned by these?
You have to ensure you are modestly dressed and adhere to the customs. It’s normal that you can’t confirm appointments in advance. It’s normal that a lot of meetings just happen when you get there. Some of the best meetings are arranged on the day.
Which female Middle Eastern entrepreneurs do you most admire, and why?
I absolutely love Sheikha Moza, she is such an inspiration and a lot of people don’t know how much she does in her quest to educate children.
I also think Queen Rania is such an inspiration for people trying to bring more attention to things like the refuge crisis and conditions there.
Both are working mothers who continue to inspire the Middle Eastern region but also mothers everywhere.
And finally, what is the one common denominator between mothers? (beyond children)
We are all hardworking, whether you work or are a stay at home mother. We are all trying to do the best for our families and raise our children so they become great people.
Click the links below to connect with Corina on social media