“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.
“Understanding customer needs, cooperating and giving your best smile is all that you need.”
Having achieved a BSc degree in tourist business from the TEI of Athens and at the same time having a Diploma in Translation by the British Council in Athens, Despina had to make a decision: to either continue her career as a translator — with her best project being the book “Managing the numbers” by Richard Stutely — or to start a career in tourism.
With over 10 years of experience under her belt, Despina has built the e-commerce strategy and digital marketing of many hotels apart from Airotel. Her responsibilities also include consultancy in matters of strategy, yield management and pricing policy.
- What are the things you like best about your job and how would you describe your hospitality/tourism management philosophy?
We are talking about the fastest growing industry in the world today. Whenever you decide to travel or dine out, you are enjoying “hospitality”. You have to stay up-to-date each and every day. Read more, search for more in order to become better and keep abreast of all the latest trends in the tourism field. You should never rest on your laurels. Understanding customer needs, cooperating and giving your best smile is all that you need.
- Have you had to face any challenges in your career to get to where you are today?
I will never forget my first job in tourism. It was demanding and multi-tasking while I did not have experience or complete knowledge at the time. However, the guidance of my sales manager and my strong will contributed in reaching the point of taking crucial decisions and acting effectively. Let me take the opportunity to thank this woman who helped me make my first important steps.
- In regards to hospitality, where do you think Greece needs to improve the most?
There must be a coordinated strategy from people that have the knowledge. We have the “sea and sun” seasonal destination but there is much more than that. Right now, Greek infrastructure is incapable to support the great number of tourists that come, especially in summer months. Moreover, we should concentrate on providing “value for money” services by offering the guest at least what we have promised them.
- 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?)
Both of my parents were born in Athens since my grandparents abandoned their town Sinasos, in Cappadocia, during the Asia Minor catastrophe. The secret of this town is the everlasting effort of its people to preserve their origins. So, they have founded the “Nea Sinasos” union whose members also include my parents. They publish a newspaper, a calendar and organize trips. And all these with one purpose: to keep their traditions alive.
- If you could pass on a message to the hospitality/tourism industry about Greece, what would it be?
“It’s what we think we know already that often prevents us from learning”, the French scientist Claude Bernard once said. I believe that education and training should never end for tourism employees. Also, there is not enough existing scientific tourism research in Greece and without it we cannot create a sufficient tourism policy.
- What are your plans for the future?
I would like to have my own farm, which, later on, I would expand into a traditional lodging. The guests would have the chance to participate in indoor and outdoor activities and taste local traditional products. I believe that agrotourism is emerging at the right moment that people are tired of the stressful rhythms of life in the city.
- If you didn’t work in the hospitality/tourism industry where would you be?
I would definitely turn one of my hobbies into a profession: playing tennis is one of my passions. I would be a tennis coach. It helps you maintain fitness and mental health. It requires alertness and tactical thinking. What I like most is that it is a game which people can play throughout their lifetime.
Connect with Despina Vourou on LinkedIn