Iva Kutle Skrlec, Hilton – Director, Destination Marketing, MEA

Iva is one of MEA’s leading destination and travel marketing experts with 20 years of international experience including agency, client and media/technology side.

Originally Croatian, she moved to Dubai in 2015 when she joined Google to manage their relationship with the region’s travel giants such as Emirates Airline, Etihad Airways and the local tourism boards. She helped shape some of the most prominent campaigns for Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Expo 2020 through Google’s platforms, also leading Google’s excellencehub for destination marketing throughout the pandemic. Her passion has always been marrying data led commercial strategies with the power of marketing technology.

She joined Hilton in 2022 as a Destination Marketing Director in one of the most dynamic regions for the company. She leads destination marketing strategy and supports Hilton’s expanding portfolio of brands in the Middle East and Africa.

In addition to her marketing hat, as an organizational psychologist she has a strong focus on leadership, people development and organizational change.

A graduate of the London School of Economics and Harvard Business School Executive Education program, she’s also the winner of the Martech champion award and multiple Effie awards, avid traveler and a proud mom of two.

There’s never been a time and place more exciting to be a destination marketer than the Middle East is now.

So many parallel factors make this job exciting, fun and dynamic: the pandemic kept us on our toes as we watched travel patterns disappear completely and reemerge changed and bold.

At the same time, AI powered marketing and travel technology developed at a galloping pace, opening a fascinating (and sometimes overwhelming) world of insights, targeting capabilities and personalization opportunities.

And in this particular region, in addition to places that have already shaken up the traditional tourism landscape, such as Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Ras Al Khaimah, we are also witnessing Saudi Arabia’s transformation into a tourism superpower that is growing its infrastructure and people in ways never seen before.

From a destination marketing perspective that means growing awareness and incremental demand, often by addressing misconceptions.

I am proud of the role Hilton plays in uplifting its destinations, bringing a variety of brands and products to cater to all tastes and budgets, never compromising on quality and supporting our guests, communities, team members and owners.

Hilton’s marketing engine is efficient and innovative and our role as Destination Marketing is to ensure we understand the needs and sensitivities of regional travelers, help them connect with our hotels and give them a reason to stay with us. We also need to balance between immediate business needs and a longer term vision for each of our destinations.

We prioritize locally relevant partnerships and one such example that particularly stands out is our brand ambassador collaboration last year with major regional influencers, the Badr family, that won us an HSMAI’s Adrian award in 2023.

We are looking forward to our upcoming Ramadan campaign with them.