By Nikos Krinis
If there is someone that has a lot to say about the Greek aviation and tourism industry, then that someone is Dinos Frantzeskakis, the managing director of Discover The World Greece & Cyprus.
“The Greek market is challenging and despite the difficult economic conditions, the travel and tourism industry is growing,” Frantzeskakis says.
Discover Greece & Cyprus is part of Discover the World, a leading company in global travel services and distribution. The top brands in the travel industry trust Discover to perform sales, marketing business processing and distribution needs across the globe
“Business partners and potential clients need financial reassurance before they invest in Greece. Our company is here to recognize trends and convince clients about the benefits of investing in the Greek market,” he told GTP Headlines. Discover Greece & Cyprus is part of a global network of more than 85 offices in 60 countries for over 30 years.
Discover the World commenced operations in Greece in 1992. Its Greek office today represents 13 major international companies, including Aerolíneas Argentinas, Condor Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, South African Airways, Air New Zealand, Hainan, Aeromexico, Hong Kong Airlines and Air Malta, as well as three cruise companies, plus Caesars Entertainment Group of Hotels and Casinos.
“We are passionate about sales and marketing. This is why we can speak with pride and confidence when we repeat our tag line that supports the new logo: Others Promise the World, We Deliver it.”, he said.
Dinos Frantzeskakis and his son Nikos, the company’s Sales Development Manager MICE and New Technologies, recently spoke to GTP Headlines and informed on Discover the World’s recent agreements as GSA’s (general sales agents) for foreign-based airlines and future plans regarding digital solutions for their clients. They also touched on issues regarding Greek tourism and the aviation sector, including the privatization of Greece’s 14 regional airports. Nikos Frantzeskakis is responsible for developing Discover the World in Greece and abroad, aiming to attract new customers through new technologies and marketing methods.
“It is high time for Greece’s infrastructure to urgently improve — to cater properly for the increasing demand in the years to come.” – Dinos Frantzeskakis
- GTP: What is your outlook for tourism in Greece this year, given that the country attracted new carriers and more flights this summer season?
Dinos Frantzeskakis: Greek tourism is one of the major forces of Greek economy along with shipping and can contribute in bouncing back from the crisis. An additional 2 million tourists are expected in comparison to 2016 which amounts to a growth rate of 7% over the previous year. Greece, with its tradition in tourism, beautiful scenery and culture appeals to various segments: luxury, religious, cruises, yachting, diving, cultural tourism. Also its accessibility through air, land and sea is increasing substantially.
However, as the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE) has repeatedly mentioned, it is high time for Greece’s infrastructure to urgently improve — to cater properly for the increasing demand in the years to come. Also, steps and planning should be put in place to evenly distribute tourism traffic all over our mainland and islands — the Spanish phenomenon of overcrowding and overtourism, in crowded tourist spots, such as Santorini should be avoided.
“Besides the sales and support via various traditional channels, our company, Discover the World, has a separate division for digital solutions.” – Nikos Frantzeskakis
- GTP: A leader in global travel services and distribution, Discover the World also provides digital solutions to the travel industry. Please tell us about your most recent projects.
Nikos Frantzeskakis: Our expertise is limitless, as besides the sales and support via various traditional channels, our company, Discover the World, has a separate division for digital solutions. In fact, one of our most important clients globally is the Expedia B2B product TAAP (Travel Agent Affiliate Program), soon to be introduced in Greece.
Also, clients can launch their online communication via bigblueroad Agent World — a one-stop shop for agents to view client information globally and/or via their own platform. As a division of Discover the World, bigblueroad can also offer in-market sales to support online campaigns. Moreover, sales people can train their travel staff by using the online platform built by bigblueroad.
In the field of digital marketing, we utilize social media channels Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, Instagram and mail blasts with performance metrics (mailchimp).
Also the implementation of mobile apps in the travel sector seems promising and we may consider it in the near future.
The partnership Discover the World Greece has with Aerolíneas Argentinas, “sends a clear message to other airlines that our market is financially stable.” – Dinos Frantzeskakis
- GTP: Aerolíneas Argentinas, the national carrier of Argentina, in July appointed Discover the World as its General Sales Agent (GSA) in Greece and Cyprus. Just how important is this partnership for the Greek market?
Dinos Frantzeskakis: The airline decided to enhance its presence in the Greek market, following an increasing demand for transatlantic flights from/to Latin America. Also, a Special Proration Agreement between Alitalia and Aerolineas has been activated, offering direct connections to/from Buenos Aires to Athens via Rome. This partnership will continue to strengthen as more passengers are expected to travel to Greece. Our Travel Partners have already offered their vote of confidence to Aerolineas by boosting sales during July and August by 60% vs last year! The effects of such partnerships are both direct and indirect, jobs are created, trade boosted but most importantly it sends a clear message to other Airlines that our market is financially stable.
“In summer 2018, Condor will offer 134 flights per week to 15 destinations in Greece.” – Nikos Frantzeskakis
- GTP: Discover the World Greece is also the GSA of German airline Condor. What plans does the airline have for the Greek market in 2018?
Dinos Frantzeskakis: Condor Airlines is a member of Thomas Cook Group of airlines based in Germany and England. Other subsidiaries are Thomas Cook UK (MT), Thomas Cook Scandinavia (DK ) all members of Greek BSP, under the Condor umbrella. We represent Condor to the market with regular product updates and provide after sales service to travel agents, all over Greece and Cyprus.
Currently Condor operates a total of 300 flights to 16 Greek destinations and connects Thessaloniki and Frankfurt.
Condor is performing really well in our market and as a leisure carrier peak season flights are important.
Nikos Frantzeskakis: In summer 2018, Condor will offer 134 flights per week to 15 destinations in Greece, while three destinations in the Aegean will each be linked to one more German airport. Kalamata will be linked with not just Munich and Frankfurt but also Düsseldorf. Condor will also launch flights to Skiathos from Stuttgart, Munich, Frankfurt and Düsseldorf. Condor and Thomas Cook UK are both flying year round to North American and Caribbean destinations, offering convenient connections to Greek shipping companies’ crews.
“Our plans for 2018 are to support our market by bringing more clients to Greece from the Airline, Hospitality and Cruise industry.” – Nikos Frantzeskakis
- GTP: What are Discover the World Greece’s plans for 2018? What should the market look forward to?
Nikos Frantzeskakis: We have a lot to look out for next year, following the increase in passenger traffic and redevelopment plans for 14 airports in Greece, 2018 is expected to be an interesting and fruitful year for the travel industry.
Our plans for 2018 are to support our market by bringing more clients to Greece from the Airline, Hospitality and Cruise industry, thus enhancing travel product offering to Corporate and Leisure market segments in Greece and Cyprus.
“(When capital controls first were imposed on Greece in 2015) we prevented foreign airlines from ceasing routes to our country at a time crucial for our country. We are very proud of our work.” – Dinos Frantzeskakis
- GTP: Dino, you were president of the Hellenic Association of Airline Representatives (SAAE) during the time when capital controls were introduced to the Greek banking system. Just how did this initially affect the foreign airlines and travel agents? How did SAAE respond to this experience?
Dinos Frantzeskakis: Imposed capital controls have been substantially loosened but are still present since their implementation in the summer of 2015 that led many airlines to lose confidence in the Greek economy. The result was for many airlines to immediately withdraw ticketing authority for agents on the basis that they couldn’t receive their money.
During that time our association reacted instantly with visits to the relevant ministries and thus achieved the export of owed funds to foreign airline companies from the Greek market. This way we prevented foreign airlines from ceasing routes to our country at a time crucial for our country. We are very proud of our work.
“The privatization of 14 Greek regional airports is a positive outcome.” – Dinos Frantzeskakis
- GTP: We would like your view on the privatization of 14 Greek regional airports.
Dinos Frantzeskakis: The redevelopment of 14 regional airports is a positive outcome and will encourage airline companies to open new routes and additional frequencies. It is vital to maintain and increase passenger traffic by providing operational and service improvement to those airports. It is also important that charges to airlines are kept to reasonable levels following the initial period. Cooperation between the Hellenic Civil Aviation Authority and Fraport Greece should be improved for the common good of all concerned!
“Investments in 5-star hotels, Golf Courses and infrastructure improvements… should happen in lesser developed areas all over Greece.” – Dinos Frantzeskakis
- GTP: In your opinion what currently needs to be improved in the Greek tourism industry?
Dinos Frantzeskakis: Greece’s products and services need to be improved, as visitors who pick Greece outside the summer season seek higher quality services. Also, more investment is needed in promoting our cultural heritage, which dates more than four thousand years. Greece has the finest and most important archaeological sites that are in need of restorations and access to the public. Environmental protection should be considered and obligatory to all involved in the tourism industry. Improve the safety and security for our visitors and efficient transport infrastructure.
Moreover, investments in 5-star hotels, Golf Courses and infrastructure improvements, similar to the Messinia development with the Costa Navarino project, should happen in lesser developed areas all over Greece. The Kalamata airport’s rapid growth is a shining example of what proper investment can bring to local economies.
- GTP: A while ago media reports claimed that Caesars Entertainment, which is behind Caesars’ Palace, one of the most prestigious casino hotels in the world and the largest in Las Vegas, has expressed interest in expanding to Greece and specifically in Athens. Is Greece in the future investment plans of Caesars Entertainment?
Nikos Frantzeskakis: We understand from a recent interview broadcast on state TV, that indeed Caesars Entertainment is interested in such an investment, which could create thousands of jobs here and 3 billion euros worth of investment. So far no deal has been signed but once the Casino Bill passes through our parliament we may see serious discussions taking place between the parties involved.
Prior to Discover Greece & Cyprus, Frantzeskakis was the executive director at Aviate Aviation and Tourism. He also held sales and marketing positions at Qantas Airways in Athens and Melbourne, was the general manager of Dalia Tours and the sales manager of the Athenaeum Intercontinental. Today he holds the position of Vice President of the Hellenic Association of Airline Representatives (SAAE). He is a member of the Hellenic Association of Travel & Tourist Agencies (HATTA) and the Chamber of Commerce.