Conference “The Tourism of Tomorrow”
Top executives from multinational companies as well as representatives of hotel chains and consulting companies presented the most current trends that are visible in the tourism industry, both from a global and national perspective. Data was presented at the Workshop "Tourism of Tomorrow", organized for the second year by ACT - American College of Thessaloniki in the framework of its graduate and postgraduate academic programs in Tourism and Hospitality. The workshop was held on Friday 18 January 2019 at the Thessaloniki Music Hall, (Building Μ2, “Maurice Saltiel” Hall), under the sponsorship of the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises (SETE) and the Thessaloniki Hotels Association with many present from the business and academia sectors.
The public was welcomed by Dr. Panos Vlachos, President of Anatolia College, who spoke about the role and responsibility that educational institutions hold, especially today, in discussions that have been raised in society regarding the future of Greek tourism. In his address, Spiros Pegas, Deputy Mayor of Tourism in the Municipality of Thessaloniki, stated that Thessaloniki has been placed on the map of international tourist destinations, and described it as the future of Greek tourism for young people who are interested in studying and/or working in the field. Grigoris Tasios, President of the Hellenic Hoteliers Foundation observed that the large number of arrivals and new market data, such as short-term leases, found the industry unprepared, however, appreciated that the academic community and new educational programs can promote quality of growth of the tourist product. Andreas Mandrinos, President of the Thessaloniki Hotels Association spoke about the need of investments and improvements in the infrastructure of the Port of Thessaloniki in order to attract cruises, a sector in which the city is lagging as it is ranked 33 rd among the 43 ports in the country.
The workshop also presented the results of the large ongoing research that ACT is conducting for the tourist destinations of Rhodes and Halkidiki, in collaboration with the Association of Rhodes Hotels and the Halkidiki Tourism Organization, respectively.
The main speaker of this year's event was Sarah Duignan, Director of Clients Relationships of the multinational company STR. The data that the company had selected, as well as the data analysis that it had carried out, were presented for the first time and revealed a trend of recovery in the Greek tourism sector, an index rise of Rev / Par (revenue per available room) in the last five years, in comparison to the displayed index decrease to competitors, Spain and Italy, as well as an increase of investments by large hotel chains in Athens.
The main speaker of this year’s workshop, Sarah Duignan, Director of Clients Relationships of the multinational company STR.
Giorgos Spanos, CEO of Domes Resorts, mentioned that hotel services must be diversified and verticalized, highlighting the lack of skilled executives, while encouraging students to pursue a degree, which combines Tourism with e- commerce, digital marketing, IT, etc.
Hotels have to upgrade and adjust their services, said Konstantinos Tornivoukas, CEO of the Tor Hotel Group: presence in many different digital platforms, well- designed websites, new cancellations policies, more friendly terms for the client, possibility of prolonged stay, larger rooms, and 24-hour services were suggested as ways to reverse the flow of customers to AirBnB accommodation.
The fact that 25% of Greek GDP is generated by tourism is not a sign of prosperity in the Greek economy, said Haris Siganos, CEO of Zeus International, who pointed out that tour operators still hold a very high percentage of the market in Greece - four times compared to other markets. Based on the example of Zeus, which, with the expansion to Italy, now manages 3,500 rooms, Mr. Siganos considered it highly promising the fact that Greece "has recently started to export tourism management apart from executives in the field."
From the left, the speakers of the first unit, Giorgos Spanos, CEO, Domes Resorts, Konstantinos Tornivoukas, CEO, Tor Hotel Group, Haris Siganos, CEO of Zeus International, Grigoris Maliasas, Senior Vice President of Luxury Brands, Accor Hotels (Central & Eastern Europe) and coordinator of the workshop Konstantinos Deriziotis, author of “Money and Tourism”.
Gregory Maliasas, Senior Vice President of Luxury Brands, Accor Hotels (Central & Eastern Europe), spoke about the explosion of the tourist product in China, where a new hotel opens every 33 hours, while at the moment, 1,000 new hotels are being built all around the world. Furthermore, 67% of visitors are looking for new and different experiences inside the hotels. He described "Thessaloniki as a difficult market" and said that only recently hotel owners have begun to be more receptive to the concession of management.
Marios Trivizas, Principal Consultant of Deloitte noted that hotel businesses need to get to know their customers, understand their needs in order to satisfy them, and added that experiences tailored to customer wishes can bring about the diversification of services.
Hotel chains and the unique experiences that these hotels offer to their guests were presented by Georgia Dodou, PR Manager for Greece, Sani Resorts – Ikos Resort who referenced the way in which the group is displayed in international markets, which puts emphasis on emotion, the overall image, the senses and high aesthetics.
Sophia Panagiotaki, Managing Director of PRMEDIACO & NEEDaFIXER, showed a video as the future of tourism display and promotion. In the digital environment, the goal is to "sell a destination within a minute and this will not happen by giving information, but rather by creating a feeling to convince the traveler to choose it," she stressed.
Alkis Sotiriou, Managing Director of Makedonia Palace Hotel, presented an in- depth record of the tourist movements of 2016 - 2017. The interesting conclusions show the trend of increased seasonality, the accumulation of traffic during the summer months and the need to extend the tourist season.
Camryn Norwood, Fiona Dhamo and Aleksa Ocokoljic, students in the Tourism and Hospitality Department of ACT present the research results for the tourist destinations of Rhodes and Chalkidiki. The research was conducted by Anestis Anastasiou, Coordinator of Tourism and Hospitality Studies at ACT.
Fraport's new research on the content of services at 14 regional airports was presented by Katerina Polatou, Marketing & Development Manager of the company. The findings are that 85% of passengers are tourists, not only from England and Germany, but also from Italy, Poland, the Netherlands, Sweden, France and Russia, all countries in which Greek tourism has to target. As far as Thessaloniki is concerned, 55% of its airport’s passengers are Greek. It is remarkable, however, that Thessaloniki hosts the majority of visitors with different nationalities after Santorini.
In the immediate future, people are predicted to suffer from loneliness and noise as most will live in big cities. Tourism will not only be an escape from everyday life, but will be a soul healing experience as described by Alexandra Eustathiadou of Ekies Resorts. Respect for the environment and local community, the coexistence, and search for people with common interests are at the forefront of the preferences of the younger generation “who will look for real authentic connections in their travel experiences in order to find themselves”.
The speakers and organizers of the ACT Workshop “The Tourism of Tomorrow”.
The event and discussion that followed was coordinated by Konstantinos Deriziotis author of “Money and Tourism”.
Sponsors of the event were Deloitte, Sani Resorts and Ikos Resorts.
Airline sponsors of the event were Aegean Airlines, residence sponsor was Makedonia Palace and media sponsor was “Money and Tourism” ( https://money-tourism.gr/ ).
Translation by Kristina Babali, Christina Daniskas, Nausica Xatzopoulous