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Hotel Sector Trends Revealed at 1st Int’l Hospitality Forum in Athens

Offering unique experiences, creating rapport with the client ahead of arrival, implementing e-concierge programs, ensuring safety, hospitality and privacy, promotion via word-of-mouth and directing 1 percent of total revenue to digital marketing were the main findings of the 1st International Hospitality Forum held last week at Athens’ Metropolitan Expo within the Xenia 2017 trade show.

1st International Hospitality Forum logoOrganized by the Hellenic Chamber of Hotels, the event featured local and international industry professionals, experts, and academics who explored four central themes during interactive panel discussions which included audience participation.

Issues focused on hotels in the era of new technologies, adapting the hotel product to current market needs, consumer behavior and sales and marketing in the era of technology.

Panel 1 – “From Digital to Artificial Intelligence: Hotels in the Era of New Technological Revolution”

Panel 1: Andriew Lim, Professor of Technopreneurship and Innovation-Hotelschool The Hague, Hospitality Business School, the Netherlands; Steve Lowy, Head of Toposophy UK & Chairman of the Hotel Marketing Association; Elina Litsa, Director, Transactional Advisory Services, Grant Thornton; Katerina Santikou, CEO, Workathlon & Business Development Director, Santikos Collection; Moritz von Petersdorff-Campen, CEO, SuitePad.

Panel 1: Andriew Lim, Professor of Technopreneurship and Innovation-Hotelschool The Hague, Hospitality Business School, the Netherlands; Steve Lowy, Head of Toposophy UK & Chairman of the Hotel Marketing Association; Elina Litsa, Director, Transactional Advisory Services, Grant Thornton; Katerina Santikou, CEO, Workathlon & Business Development Director, Santikos Collection; Moritz von Petersdorff-Campen, CEO, SuitePad.

The first panel discussion titled “From Digital to Artificial Intelligence: Hotels in the Era of New Technological Revolution” concluded that authenticity as well as offering unique experiences are vital in order to remain competitive. At the same time, staff should have specialized training. The speakers also noted that hoteliers must now focus on revenue management and ratings as well as implement e-concierge programs.

Panel 2 – “Hotels Refreshed: Adapting the Hotel Product to the Needs of Today”

Panel 2: Kash Bhattacharya, travel blogger and marketeer; Renzo Iorio, COO AccorHotels Italy, Greece, Israel & Malta; Elias Bellos, journalist at ‘Kathimerini’; Michael Mavropoulos, Regional Director East Mediterranean of TUI Destination Services; Charalambos Voulgaris, CEO Kontokali Bay Resort & Spa and Aeolos Beach, hotels, VP Corfu Hotel Association and BoD member Hellenic Chamber of Hotels.

Panel 2: Kash Bhattacharya, travel blogger and marketeer; Renzo Iorio, COO AccorHotels Italy, Greece, Israel & Malta; Elias Bellos, journalist at ‘Kathimerini’; Michael Mavropoulos, Regional Director East Mediterranean of TUI Destination Services; Charalambos Voulgaris, CEO Kontokali Bay Resort & Spa and Aeolos Beach, hotels, VP Corfu Hotel Association and BoD member Hellenic Chamber of Hotels.

The second panel titled “Hotels Refreshed: Adapting the Hotel Product to the Needs of Today” found that hotels can remain competitive in a sharing economy by offering additional services free of charge. Smart hotels and luxury hostels are an upcoming trend, the experts said, adding that the hotelier must now be in a position to tell a story in order to interact with his client.

Panel 3 – “Changing Consumer Behavior: A Brand New Marketplace”

3rd Panel: Alexandros Angelopoulos, BoD member, Chairman Environmental Policy Committee of the Hellenic Chamber of Hotels, CEO of Aldemar Resorts; Chara Georgiadou, Industry Manager at trivago for Greece, Cyprus and Turkey; Marina Protonotariou, journalist at ‘Parapolitika’ and ‘Eleftheria tou Typou'; Olivier Henry Biabaud, CEO, TCI Research; Tjeerd Zandberg, Researcher at European Tourism Futures Institute (ETFI) & Academy of International Hospitality Research (AIHR).

3rd Panel: Alexandros Angelopoulos, BoD member, Chairman Environmental Policy Committee of the Hellenic Chamber of Hotels, CEO of Aldemar Resorts; Chara Georgiadou, Industry Manager at trivago for Greece, Cyprus and Turkey; Marina Protonotariou, journalist at ‘Parapolitika’ and ‘Eleftheria tou Typou’; Olivier Henry Biabaud, CEO, TCI Research; Tjeerd Zandberg, Researcher at European Tourism Futures Institute (ETFI) & Academy of International Hospitality Research (AIHR).

Titled “Changing Consumer Behavior: A Brand New Marketplace”, the 3rd round-table explored the role of the hotelier and the necessity to touch base with customers and establish rapport ahead of their visit. At the same time, hoteliers should be able through digital means to create the story behind the hotel and photos must convey the hotel experience. Research findings presented indicate that 87 percent of hotel guests seek safety, 85 percent hospitality and 85 percent privacy.

Panel 4 – “Hotel Sales and Marketing in the Tech Era”

Panel 4: Jean-Claude Balanos, Vice President Leisure Sales, AccorHotels; Pavlos Foskolakis, Senior Manager, Digital Field Marketing, Southern Europe, Marriott International; Maria Theofanopoulou, CEO, Greek Travel Pages; Neville Graham, Managing Director International Member Services, Best Western Hotels & Resorts; Agapi Sbokou, co-CEO SHG, Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE) BoD member, Marketing Greece BoD member.

Panel 4: Jean-Claude Balanos, Vice President Leisure Sales, AccorHotels; Pavlos Foskolakis, Senior Manager, Digital Field Marketing, Southern Europe, Marriott International; Maria Theofanopoulou, CEO, Greek Travel Pages; Neville Graham, Managing Director International Member Services, Best Western Hotels & Resorts; Agapi Sbokou, co-CEO SHG, Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE) BoD member, Marketing Greece BoD member.

The last discourse examined “Hotel Sales and Marketing in the Tech Era”. Speakers concluded that hoteliers should expand their partnerships beyond online travel agencies. This panel also stressed the need for pre-arrival contact which will set the scene for what’s in store during the hotel stay, the implementation of a loyalty program and maintaining interaction between the hotel and the local community. Data presented found that 85 percent of visitors have not made plans for their stay while factors affecting their decision are intention, offers and authenticity.

The forum was held as part of the Xenia 2017 exhibition, with the expo’s organizer, Forum SA, as a Gold Sponsor.

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