For the second time around, the Greek Travel Pages (GTP), Greece’s ultimate source of information for tourism professionals and travellers, provided a platform for local travel agents and tour operators to strengthen ties with hoteliers visiting the 100% Hotel Show.
The meeting point took place at “GTP Island”, located in the Networking Area (step 6) of the exhibition, but not the usual B2B setting, but rather in a relaxed business environment: out in the open, all travel agents working side by side.
All visiting hoteliers attending the 100% Hotel Show had free access to GTP Island through pre-arranged meetings and a number of walk-in appointments and met representatives of the country’s major travel agencies.
Travel agencies hosted at GTP Island included Aktina Travel Group, Argo Travel Group, Imagination Travel, L’ Oceane Voyages, Starlite Travel, Roomcase, Smile Acadimos, Ask2Travel, Signature Travel, Meli Tours and property management company Blueground.
GTP Island: Building bridges between travel agents and hoteliers
“The concept of this initiative is very positive because here you can find many hoteliers with small units that have special products and are not able to attend large exhibitions. Through the process at GTP Island, we travel agents and tour operators can discover new products to sell”, Angelos Samolis, the Athens Branch Manager at Meli Tours told GTP.
Other travel agents informed us that such an initiative was missing from the Greek travel market.
“Such an initiative should have taken place many, many years ago and I think that you have succeeded your aim and that we will have very positive results in the process”, Takis Mamais from the Land Arrangements Dept of Aktina Travel Group said.
“Business it not what it used to be. The face to face contact has been lost due to the evolution of technology… I definitely believe that such initiatives are necessary”, Mr Mamais said.
Argo Travel Group‘s Stratis Voursoukis also underlined the need for more events — that bring travel agents and tour operators into direct contact with hoteliers — to take place in Greece.
“Such initiatives are necessary because nowadays we have become a bit tired of phones and e-mails… It is a nice change to have personal contact, even under a speed networking concept”, Maria Michalakoupoulou, Co-founder of Roomcase said.
According to the majority of travel agents, GTP’s initiative contributed in filling the “gap” the Internet has “caused” as many hoteliers tend to invest more in the online market to have a direct contact with the customer.
“The opportunities found online have caused a rift between travel agents and hoteliers as they offer the customer the opportunity to make reservations directly from their websites and this results to the travel agent and the agency disappearing”, said Eleni Leonidakou, Travel Consultant at L’ Oceane Voyages.
“There should be more initiatives such as GTP Island… Just imagine that here at the exhibition I unexpectedly found and spoken to a number of hoteliers that never answer e-mails”, she added.
“In my opinion there are so many online booking systems — intermediaries — entering the market and there is no communication between the travel agent and the hotelier. So, in this sense, it’s natural for the two to grow apart”, said Dimitra Maragkoudaki, Sales representative at Starlite Travel.
“Some hoteliers believe that they can sell 100% on their own, which is possible sometimes. However, when they works alongside other booking platforms (and not travel agents) they are not on their own. There is a commission there as well… Hoteliers should find the balance between working with online platforms and travel agents”, said Antonis Pappas, Managing Director of Imagination Travel.
“Unfortunately hoteliers tend to bypass travel agencies because they think they can make more money that way”, Stella Chroni, Senior Manager at Smile Acadimos stressed.
“The GTP Island offered us a very good opportunity to explain to hoteliers why they need to work with travel agencies… Just think, a traveller may book only once at a hotel and never again because he then visits another destination. However, through a travel agency a hotel will receive more customers”, she added.
GTP’s initiative was well received by hoteliers that desired to establish a closer relationship with travel agents and develop new partnerships.