Interview with CEO of SWOT, George Constantinidis
When asked to describe the vision of Greece’s hospitality management company SWOT, its CEO George Constantinidis included two phrases: “professional services” and “partnerships”.
SWOT — the acronym for Simple Way Of Tourism — operates as a sales department for hotels in Greece and abroad and according to Constantinidis, the company was established in May 2013, following the realization of the market’s need for professional representation and specialization in the tourism sector.
“We have a vision for Greek tourism. And that is to create a framework of professional services and high-level partnerships where we can all offer our guests the best possible stay and service in one of the most beautiful countries in the world, Greece,” Constantinidis told GTP Headlines.
SWOT’s aim is to increase the sales and revenue of its partners, following proper operation procedures, systematic organization and development in all departments.
One of the main activities of the company, is the organization of the Business Travel Professionals Forum (BTPF), a leading annual B2B forum in Greece with the participation of top hotels, travel agencies and other tourism enterprises.
The latest BTPF event took place this past November and once again gave participating hotels the opportunity to meet, introduce themselves and create cooperations by communicating “face to face” with the decision makers of the most important corporations and various travel agencies (DMC’s, PCO’s, MICE, Business Travel, Leisure, Tour Operators & Wholesalers), who materialize corporate travel, corporate events and leisure travel in Greece.
GTP Headlines met up with Constantinidis and received feedback regarding the recently held 5th BTPF in Athens and information on the company’s upcoming event, the second forum for Small Lodgings in Greece, an effort to bring the country’s small lodgings in direct contact with travel agencies and hotel suppliers to expand their partnerships and boost their sales.
GTP: In early November SWOT held it fifth Business Travel Professionals Forum (BTPF) in Athens and once again offered tourism sector entrepreneurs the chance to network, close deals and create synergies. How did the event do in terms of participation and what was the feedback from participating companies?
George Constantinidis: The 5th BTPF marked the culmination of a series of successful events, where for five consecutive years the leading hotels from all over Greece meet the market leaders and decision makers of the country. The attendance of the professional visitors surpassed every precedent and the hotels that participated expressed, for one more year, their satisfaction for both the excellent organization and the results they had during their meetings.
GTP: What is the next step for the BTPF event? What should we expect for the sixth edition? Have you considered including international participations?
George Constantinidis: We aim to constantly evolve and offer our participants more dynamics in the hospitality industry. Over the last three years we have been hosting selective international agencies and our next step is to open the door for international hotels to add value with their participation.
GTP: Considering that you engage every day with numerous tourism professionals, what would you say are the three major concerns they have? What challenges need to be addressed?
George Constantinidis: The first big concern of professionals is the tax burden on businesses, and the tax increases during the last three years, especially to the hotel sector.
The second concern of the business professionals is whether the positive trend that has been experienced in the last four years by visitors is transient, because of the unfortunate situations in our neighboring countries.
The third major concern is the constantly reduced “liquidity” of the market and the difficulty in payments from businesses to suppliers and vice versa.
The challenges are the same with the answers for all the above: How can we manage to smooth out, without affecting the productive “chain”, and develop the activities of each corporation? It needs consistency and hard work from everyone to overcome what has happened in the past decades, focusing only on the present & the building future.
GTP: SWOT also held the 1st Forum for Small Lodgings in Greece back in April and brought the country’s small lodgings in direct contact with travel agencies and hotel suppliers to expand partnerships and boost sales. How did this concept proceed and when will the second forum take place?
George Constantinidis: By being in the market, as the most reliable Sales Representative, SWOT understood the need of small lodges (Boutique Hotels, Villas, Studios & Apartments etc.) to be in contact with the market.
The 2nd Forum for Boutique Hotels & Villas is already scheduled for the March 2018 in Athens, and will be organized in the most professional way as only SWOT knows how.
GTP: SWOT has set the bar high and keeps moving faster. Just how high can the bar be set in terms of such events?
George Constantinidis: Sky is the limit for us and we will do it in a simple (and most productive) way!
GTP: What are SWOT’s future plans and what more will it provide to its customers?
George Constantinidis: SWOT evolves day by day and modernizes both the way it operates and the benefits it provides to its customers. The next SWOTs’ plans have already begun, in cooperation with a large development company, with the development of a CRM & SALES SOFTWARE, where SWOT partners can be informed instantly about the “needs” of the market with reports & statistics.
GTP: SWOT participated with its own stand in the latest World Travel Market expo in London. What is the company’s relation to the UK market?
George Constantinidis: SWOT develops contacts with all markets worldwide and one of the strongest markets for Greece and the hotels we represent is that of the United Kingdom. Of course, it is worth mentioning that in 2017 we have also traveled to develop sales for our associates in Germany, Spain and Australia, with great results and contacts.
GTP: Many Greek tourism professionals have referred to WTM 2017 as “one of the best WTM’s for Greece”. Do you agree? What was your impression of Greece’s presence at the exhibition?
George Constantinidis: It was a really good exhibition for Greece, with professional presence, as always, by all the participants. I do hope to see immediate results in numbers and new businesses for all the Greek companies.
GTP: What do your member hotels expect in regards to incoming tourism to Greece in 2018?
George Constantinidis: Although it is quite early, inbound tourism for 2018 is showing signs of similar levels of 2017, which is referred to as a record year in terms of arrivals.
George was born in Athens and has graduated from the Swiss Alpine Center & Cornell University of Ithaka|USA, where he studied Hospitality Management. During his studies and for 3 years he followed his practical courses by TUI HELLAS. George started his career in hospitality in 2001 and worked with a young team of professionals in the organization and development of a Sales & Marketing department for the Club Hotel Casino Loutraki. In 2003 he was employed by the Mantonanakis Group and worked as Sales Responsible for the Hotels Nafplia Palace & Amphitrion in Nafplion. As of December 2004 to December 2008 he worked as Marketing Director in the Sports field and in the same field he continuoued as General Manager from 2010 to 2012 when he retrieved himself to start his own businesses. In early 2013 George decided that the time had come for him to make his long time dream a reality and createed the company SWOT along with valuable and experienced collaborators. He speaks fluent English and Italian and has good knowledge of German.