Introducing this week’s Hotelier of the Week!

Diana Kaler is the Director of Sales London – Splendid Hospitality Group Ltd (Owner of Hilton London Bankside) 

Tell us briefly about your experience as a hotelier, including your early career and passion for the industry?

During my university years, I had the opportunity to work at Steigenberger Hotel Hamburg while balancing my studies. Initially involved in banqueting, this experience played a pivotal role in shaping my passion for the hospitality industry. At the outset, I hadn’t considered a career in this field, but the exposure to meticulous attention to detail, exceptional service, and the genuine care and thought put into enhancing the guest experience at Steigenberger left a lasting impression on me.

The turning point in my journey came when I had the chance to study in the UK, where my enthusiasm for the industry flourished. I found immense joy in providing service that exceeded expectations, and the satisfaction of knowing that a customer was happy became a driving force for me. The thrill of executing successful events added an exciting dimension to my experience.

What drew me deeper into the world of hospitality was the combination of luxury and tradition. I developed a keen interest in the finer aspects of hospitality, appreciating the importance of preserving traditions while delivering a luxurious experience. This period also marked my exploration as a passionate traveller and cook. I further honed my culinary skills through training at Cordon Bleu, adding another layer to my commitment and love for the hospitality industry.

In essence, my journey as a hotelier started with a casual job during university. The exposure to exceptional service, attention to detail, and the thrill of creating memorable guest experiences ignited my passion for the industry. This passion, coupled with my love for travel and culinary arts, continues to drive my commitment to delivering exceptional hospitality.

What do you love most about your role?

My role is a source of immense satisfaction and excitement for me. One of my primary joys lies in the opportunity to work with people from diverse backgrounds and cultures, creating a dynamic and enriching environment. The constant buzz of being busy is also a motivating factor, with my role never presenting the same scenario twice. The unpredictable nature of the job, where something can change at any moment, adds an element of excitement, and keeps me on my toes professionally with my skills and experience constantly being put to the test. 

I thrive on delivering the best possible outcomes and take pride in the fast-paced, ever-moving nature of my role. Being at the forefront, actively driving business forward, and managing and developing people are responsibilities that bring me a sense of accomplishment. The challenge of the role is welcomed, and I find joy in a job well done, where clients, owners, and the business are content and happy.

What advice would you give someone coming into the hotel sector, hoping to further their career within the industry

In the ever-evolving world of hospitality, success hinges on a foundation of passion and commitment. For me, loving what I do and being devoted to my role are paramount. A deep understanding of the business is equally crucial, and I would advise where possible for people to try and experience multiple disciplines within the industry.  Having this willingness to learn, coupled with a curious mindset, fosters innovation and will keep you ahead of the curve.

In such dynamic industry setbacks are guaranteed. But these should be embraced with resilience, turning challenges into opportunities for growth. Recognising and seizing opportunities, even if they weren’t initially planned, is key in this everchanging environment.  

The unexpected joys and fulfilment that come with a career in hospitality surpassed any initial reservations I had when starting out. So be open to people, change and challenges, as in this industry you never know what opportunities are around the corner.  

What is a memory which really shaped your career?

A transformative moment in my career came during my time at The Tower Hotel London, when as a junior team member, I assumed responsibility for a pivotal three-day event for one of the hotel’s most important clients.  I was tasked with overseeing multiple facets including meetings, breakouts, and a dinner for 550 people and I had full autonomy in orchestrating the event from start to finish. Not only was the event executed successfully, but I also received personal acknowledgment from the client’s CEO, who conveyed gratitude directly to the hotel’s General Manager. This experience really confirmed my dedication to hospitality, I was trusted to deliver, and I did. There is no better feeling when carefully planning, dedicated service and innovative thinking come together to create something that is successful for all parties involved. Being able to achieve this fuelled my passion and drive for the industry. 

What has been the pinnacle of your career?

Reflecting on my career journey, I’ve been fortunate to experience numerous significant moments, each contributing to my growth and development. Among them, the start of my journey at Hilton London Bankside stands out prominently. Upon joining, I faced the challenge of leading a department with limited resources. Despite this hurdle, I not only met but exceeded targets, while simultaneously spearheading the development and growth of the sales team from the ground up.

The pinnacle of this journey came when I was named Manager of the Year at our internal awards ceremony, a recognition bestowed upon me by my peers and colleagues. It was a humbling experience to see my hard work and dedication acknowledged in such a meaningful way.

After just over 18 months at the hotel, in February 2024, I was presented with an incredible opportunity – the promotion to Director of Sales London for Splendid Hospitality Group Ltd (owners of Hilton London Bankside). In this new role, I am entrusted with overseeing multiple hotels and brands, a responsibility that I eagerly embrace. I am excited for the journey ahead, working within such a dynamic company, anticipating the fresh excitement and challenges that it will undoubtedly bring.