“New Faces” is a column by GTP that introduces the professionals of the Greek tourism industry. In each column, Greek professionals refer to issues related to their profession, the travel & tourism sector and Greece as a destination.
“Considering that the notion of ‘hospitality’ actually originated in Greece, I think it is our duty to promote that wonderful ideal in any way that we can.”
Born in Athens, Sofia currently serves as Business Development Manager for Aqua Vista Hotels (AVH). She is originally from the Greek island of Naxos. Sofia studied Tourism Marketing & Management at STEAN Athens and did her master’s degree at Park Lane College in Leeds, UK. Ever since the beginning of her career she has been assigned major positions in the travel industry, including branch and operation manager in charter freighters and T.O.s like Meridian, hotel manager etc.
At AVH Sofia is responsible for enlarging the group by adding new hotel members within its portfolio, through marketing and brand awareness strategies. Recently she succeeded in opening the Greek island Paros as Aqua Vista Hotels’ new destination by signing a multiyear hotel lease contract in the heart of Paroikia village.
- What are the things you like best about your job and how would you describe your hospitality and tourism management philosophy?
I can honestly say that I love every aspect of what I do and there is no particular thing that stands out. From the simplest tasks to more demanding issues, I enjoy every moment and get total satisfaction on a daily basis. If I have to pick one particular thing that I especially enjoy, then it probably would be negotiating new collaborations that eventually lead to expansion and the creation of more extraordinary properties, in exceptional locations. Part of my job as Business Development Manager is to look for innovative ways to promote the work we do at Aqua Vista Hotels and, luckily, this also means promoting Greece as a top tourist destination, something which makes me very proud indeed.
- Have you had to face any challenges in your career to get to where you are today?
There are always challenges to face in this sector, but I prefer to see each hurdle as the chance to achieve new goals, to be consistent and to keep raising the bar, things that I greatly enjoy and which provide the impetus for me to remain motivated in my job. When you are committed to doing your best at all times, it is very rewarding to achieve results, despite the difficulties, and that is something that I constantly strive for.
- In regards to hospitality, where do you think Greece needs to improve the most?
Greece continues to be a top worldwide tourist destination, due to its spectacular cultural heritage and natural beauty. What I feel it still lacks to some extent is the idea of creating a unique space, with its own distinct identity, design and ambiance. If a guest is made to feel special from the moment their stay begins, in a unique venue, then this is the ultimate hospitality experience that I think we should all aim to offer. In seeing guests not as strangers, but as friends, this is the true spirit of ‘philoxenia’.
- 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?)
I don’t know if ‘secret’ is the right word, but certainly there are many aspects of our beautiful country that are still waiting to be discovered by international visitors. It is not only a destination of stereotypes such as summer, sun and souvlaki. Our country has a rich gastronomical culture, architectural heritage and places of undiscovered natural beauty. Its magic unfolds in an autumn sunset on one of its many islands after a light rainfall, silver waves lapping gently on the shore. These are the ‘secrets’ that I would like everyone to discover, 365 days of the year.
- If you could pass on a message to the hospitality industry about Greece, what would it be?
Considering that the notion of ‘hospitality’ actually originated in Greece, I think it is our duty to promote that wonderful ideal in any way that we can. For me, it is important to highlight the truly authentic experiences that are available to the visitor in first rate surroundings in addition to the fact that the new generation of the Greek tourism industry has been going through thorough studies on the sector, is travelling a lot, whilst at the same time is being in a continuous technological update. All this knowledge has been adjusted to the classical Greek hospitality and the result is a remarkable upscaled package of offering services. This is what we should communicate as one of our major fors as top tourist destination.
- What are your plans for the future?
My plans for the future revolve around finding new locations that offer something extra special, expanding our portfolio by creating even more exclusive hotel units, and continuing to enjoy the whole range of activities which keep me busy in my job. I believe that when you set your goals high, the future always holds something exciting and rewarding so, I plan to look forward to that.
- If you didn’t work in the hospitality industry where would you be?
I cannot imagine working anywhere else than in the hospitality sector. It is something that I have spent my whole life being involved in and it expresses me completely. I get so much pleasure from interacting with my peers and colleagues, who are all as committed as I am to the pursuit of excellence in the industry that I really never think about doing anything other than what I love.
Connect with Sofia Matzourani on LinkedIn