It would seem that professionally managed Greek tourism offices are in demand within the international marketplace. The latest evidence is the Meridian buyout bid by Hotelbeds, a part of the First Choice Holidays PLC Group (UK).
Hotelbeds, which specializes in accommodation products on its global Internet site, says that to expand into key markets efficiently it needs local expertise for local accommodation and tourism services. And the best way to accomplish that, it says, is to concentrate on finding tried and proven companies, with ready-made management skills, like Meridian, to merge with.
Joan Vila, Hotelbeds’ managing director, says “Greece is a key market for Hotelbeds and we have further strengthened our incoming business into Greece with this new acquisition. We took our first step towards the consolidation of our local operations in Greece when we acquired Triaena Destination Management in mid 2004 and we are pleased with its developments , mostly through new contracts with hotels and the specialist product of meetings and incentives.”
On bringing Meridian into the Hotelbeds family, the latter picks up not only Greek accommodation experts from Meridian’s staff within its four-floor office complex in Athens, but also from the company’s four branch offices. Meridian picks up technological and international expertise.
Julia Laganopoulou, Meridian’s managing director and regional manager for Hotelbeds in Greece, says the merger allows the company to perform a gigantic technological leap within a very short period.
“As a part of the Hotelbeds family,” she says, “we’ll increase our marketing power and our technological prowess. This in turn will allow us to strongly and effectively promote Greek tourism products within the international marketplace.”
As well, she says the merger constitutes a major leap for her company clients as of next year when the new system is in place. “Each hotel will be able to insert its products and prices within the new system at no or inconsequential cost.”
Ms Laganopoulou adds that no management changes are planned, nor will there be any reduction in our number of employees, which total over 90. “Actually, it’s quite possible we will even see an increase in our present Greek management teams thanks to the expected increase in sales.”
Meridian has specialized in Greek accommodation since its first day of operation back in 1979. It has branch offices on the islands of Mykonos, Rodos, Santorini and Skiathos.
Hotelbeds supplies a powerful reservation platform for clients without their own online system, but with no maintenance costs usually associated with the management in-house reservation platforms. The company says it is simple to get started as just a web browser is required.
With this platform clients have tourism products that are available in 2,500 tourist zones across 900 destinations worldwide. They can handle single or multi-product reservations, multi-destination reservations, and easy shopping basket system, and an easy online modifications and cancellations system. For companies that want to get even closer to their customer, Hotelbeds offers its Next Generation XML interface (a standard that can be read by most databases, spreadsheets etc, which makes it easy for the importer to reorganize the data and to ignore branches that contain data that is not of interest).
With this interface, clients have all the functionality of hotelbeds.com integrated into your own system; they can access the complete product portfolio of Hotelbeds within their system; they can maintain their own online branding; they can have the power to reach a global market selling a worldwide portfolio; and they can save update and maintenance costs.
Other benefits of the interface include faster transaction times, electronic vouchers for clients, pro-forma invoices for clients, and regular functionality updates.