“New Faces” is a column by GTP that introduces the young professionals of the Greek tourism industry. In each column, the Greek professionals refer to issues related to their profession, the travel & tourism sector and Greece as a destination.
“We need to have talented and devoted young people that are well trained and specialized so that they become the future executives that will promote the national tourism product in a professional way.”
Katerina Traptsioni was born in Thessaloniki and studied Applied Informatics in the University of Macedonia and Web Science in Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. She started working in event management as an apprentice ten years ago at the Thessaloniki International Fair, starting from exhibitors’ support in regional exhibitions in Komotini and Crete, while working in parallel as an informatics teacher. From 2013 until now, Katerina is involved in organizing the Greek exhibitions of Infacoma, Aquatherm, Polis and Philoxenia. She is presently the Exhibition Manager of Philoxenia, the first international and longest-running tourism exhibition of the country and Greek Travel Show Athens, an exhibition that focuses on domestic tourism and is addressed to Greek travelers.
- What are the things you like best about your job and how would you describe your hospitality and tourism management philosophy?
“Do it with passion or not all.” I am a strong supporter of this in any aspect of my life and if something does not inspire passion or devotion, then it is not worth spending your time or efforts on. I try to apply this philosophy to my job, which I, to be honest, do not consider strictly as a job but as something I enjoy and care and just happen to get paid for. Event and Exhibition Management is a serious, demanding and competitive area that also offers the pleasure, the field to be creative and the satisfaction to see a project getting under way and working. So you need to be passionate, devoted and many times self-motivated in order to achieve better results and withstand the difficulties.
- Have you had to face any challenges in your career to get to where you are today?
Working in a body with such long history and prestige in event management certainly entails challenges. The main one is that HELEXPO is considered a public company, but in reality the working hours there are nothing like a Mon-Fri 9-5 day shift. So apart from the financial crisis and the unstable environment in the country in the last decade, the main challenge is to overcome prejudice and in the meantime keep the high standards of organization that are expected from the national exhibition organizer. We also had to deal with the phantoms of the past… Since sectoral exhibitions have always been mirroring the state and progress of each sector, Philoxenia from 2013 and on had to deal and be compared with previous extremely successful events. In such cases, what we need to do is not dwell on the past, but learn from it and keep moving forward.
- In regards to hospitality, where do you think Greece needs to improve the most?
I think education is where it all begins or should be at least. We need to have talented and devoted young people that are well trained and specialized so that they become the future executives that will promote the national tourism product in a professional way. It was about time that we saw the need for professional training of executives and I am happy to discover that there are now more and more programs that provide higher education and specialization to students in many areas of hospitality.
- What is your region’s best kept “secret”? (In other words, what shouldn’t be a secret in your opinion and should be promoted more abroad?)
It is no secret that the city of Thessaloniki has so many things to offer that I couldn’t name just one… Gastronomy, nightlife, culture, history, music, interesting events can be discovered in a more than two night stay in such an exciting city. I would definitely suggest an organized thematic walking tour in Thessaloniki depending on any taste. We have a lot of companies that offer these tours at day or night. I love Thessaloniki and I wouldn’t change it for any place in Greece easily and I am certain that the same happens to anyone who has the chance to get to know it.
- If you could pass on a message to the hospitality industry about Greece, what would it be?
The hospitality industry of our country is blessed to have a “product” which is so beautiful and versatile that it can sell itself. But it will not. Something, somewhere must do the selling. So let’s start from someone – train them, educate them, cultivate the right mentality for welcoming visitors and valuing their services. Then somewhere; we must see to our infrastructures, both private and public. Hotels that desperately need renovation, inferior facilities for steep prices and airports considered among the worst in the world are counter examples for the modern hospitality industry. I strongly believe that even greater results can be achieved if we deal with tourism comprehensively and in coordination.
- What are your plans for the future?
My plans regarding Philoxenia and Greek Travel Show Athens are to further promote them internationally, for them to provide better services to exhibitors and visitors, so that they become more prestigious and acknowledged. At TIF Helexpo we wish to provide the Greek tourism sector – the most important sector of our economy to my opinion –events equal to its glamour and its potential. Philoxenia, in particular, has proved to be not only a resilient exhibition product – we are getting ready for the 33rd edition this November – but also seems to be reinventing itself after years of crisis. Our aim is to make Philoxenia a proper representative of the Greek tourism industry in an international level and we are working hard towards this.
- If you didn’t work in the hospitality industry where would you be?
“There’s nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be…”
John Lennon said so… Why should I disagree?
Connect with Katerina Traptsioni on LinkedIn