“Face of the Week” is GTP’s weekly column that introduces the young professionals of the Greek tourism industry. Every week, a young Greek professional will refer to issues related to their profession, the travel & tourism sector and Greece as a destination.
“I have never thought that what I am doing is just a job. I am one of those lucky people who get paid for actually doing something they love.”
Marianna was born in Athens in 1983 and has been working in the hospitality industry for 13 years.
She studied Tourism Management in Greece and is also a master’s degree holder in Events and Conference Management from the Westminster University of London. During her career path, her unconditional love for wine led her to WSET (Wine and Spirits Educational Trust) and to the Court of Master Sommeliers.
When she is not selling wines, she teaches anthropology of food at the Mediterranean College of Athens.
- What are the things you like best about your job and how would you describe your hospitality/tourism management philosophy?
I have never thought that what I am doing is just a job. I am one of those lucky people who get paid for actually doing something they love. The fact that we have the opportunity to travel all over the world and meet all these amazing people with different cultures is what makes this “job” so exciting. As for my philosophy, I believe if emphasis is placed on the human component and not on the luxurious amenities of each five-star hotel or three-Michelin star restaurant, then we could create an extraordinary global atmosphere, just the perfect place to be.
- Have you had to face any challenges in your career to get to where you are today?
Of course I had to face challenges and I am still facing them! I am glad to have faced many of them because challenges just makes you stronger. You see, the hospitality industry is for all, but unfortunately in Greece the food and beverage industry is a male profession and women are almost forbidden, especially in managerial positions. Hopefully, this will change sooner or later, as there are many women out there that are great F&B managers and are trying every day to change this stereotype. When you stand your ground and face all those who do not appreciate your job and background and finally get them to change their minds about who you are and what you do, represents — what I call — a victory.
- In regards to hospitality, where do you think Greece needs to improve the most?
Many people think that Greece’s major problem is the bad advertising due to its financial problems. I believe that the worse thing about Greece in regards to the hospitality industry is the lack of facilities as far as accessible tourism for disabled people is concerned. What we do not understand here in Greece is that people with special needs have equal opportunities in travelling. Unfortunately, compared to other European countries, Greece is years behind in special needs travel, so I believe that we should try to create a better “special Greece” for these “special people”.
- Which 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?)
As I am from Athens, I believe that the only thing that is being promoted for so many years is the Acropolis and the historic city center. However, I believe that the best kept secret of Athens is the Athenian Riviera that — in my opinion — has nothing less to offer than the French Riviera, which on the other hand is so well promoted globally. In the Athenian Riviera you can find five star hotels, amazing beaches, Michelin star restaurants, day and night life… Experiences that most tourists visiting Athens never have because they just do not know that they are there.
- If you could pass on a message to the hospitality/tourism industry about Greece, what would it be?
If you want to experience viniculture, the monuments, the four seasons, the sun, the sea, the mountains, the forests or the snow then just visit Greece. After all, where else in the world would you be able to ski on the top of a mountain and at the same time enjoy the view of the calm Mediterranean sea?
- What are your plans for the future?
As I believe that studying makes us wiser, I would like to continue with a second master’s degree in hospitality management and perhaps later proceed to get a PHD, as this will also give me the opportunity to carry on teaching, which is something I enjoy the most. Also, considering that wine is something that the more you learn about the more you stay dedicated to, my near future plans includes attending the last level of WSET.
- If you didn’t work in the hospitality/tourism industry where would you be?
I can’t imagine myself doing anything else. If I could go back to my past I wouldn’t change a thing. I would have made exactly the same choices, the same mistakes and definitely would have taken the same career path. Now, if you ask me what would I be doing if there the hospitality industry did not exist, then I would tell you that probably I would be a… desperate housewife!
Connect with Marianna Lanara on LinkedIn