“New Faces” is a column by GTP that introduces the young professionals of the Greek tourism industry. In each column, the Greek professionals refer to issues related to their profession, the travel & tourism sector and Greece as a destination.
“We should finally promote abroad the fact that Greece is not only the typical ‘Sea & Sun’ place to visit…”
Location: Cologne Region, Germany
Born in Athens, Chara Georgiadou is the Industry Manager at trivago for the markets of Greece, Cyprus and Turkey. She has been a member of the company since its early stages (2008) and has successfully undertaken the strategic planning, launching and development of the company’s platform in Greece. During her early years of working at trivago, she was an executive of the International Department, responsible for the markets of the Mediterranean in terms of strategic marketing, business development, market research, competition analysis and management of the global team.
Chara has an MBA from Cambridge Judge Business School (Executive Education, Cambridge General Management Program), an MSc from the University of Ruhr Universität Bochum (Bachelor of Science), and a Bachelor from the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (Bachelor of Science, Faculty of Physical Education and Sport Science).
- What are the things you like best about your job?
The thing I like the most about my job is the ongoing process of learning! It never stops! Tourism, hospitality and technology are very dynamic industries and are changing constantly. That requires a high degree of adjustability, flexibility and of course ‘up-to-date’ knowledge. I find this very fascinating. It keeps me in a constant mode of alert. Additionally, the fact that my previous and current role at trivago, required my involvement in different areas such as marketing, branding, communication, team leading, market research, business development etc., gave me the chance to enrich my knowledge in multiple areas and to acquire experience and insights that helped me keep the bigger picture in mind.
- Have you had to face any challenges in your career to get to where you are today?
When I look back, I think that I had to face two big challenges in my career. The first one goes back to the days when trivago was still a startup company. We did not have the resources we have now, to promote our product through marketing and advertising activities in the Greek market. I had to create a sustainable business case, in a quite short period of time, to prove that Greek users would welcome and use our product. So, given the fact that no resources were available, I had to engage my creativity and my perseverance! It was a great satisfaction at the end, that the GR project was approved, and we continued our activities in the market. The second biggest challenge I had to face, was back in 2012. Like most companies, we were also affected by the financial situation in Greece and we were challenged to keep up with all the macroeconomic changes happening. The last thing that Greeks were searching for in the middle of the crisis was a hotel to stay! I needed to make a lot of ad-hoc decisions and alter our strategy to ensure sustainability for our product and for the market.
- In regards to hospitality, where do you think Greece needs to improve the most?
In my experience we still have lot of work to do when it comes to connectivity, technology and quality of online content! There is a lot of room for improvement in those areas. There is still a very large number of hoteliers and destinations, as well as hospitality services, that have no or a very poor online presence or they use poor technology. It means we are not as competitive as we could potentially be. We have a great tourism product. But we show only a small percentage of that product to the world. We should become more globally engaged, we should welcome and employ technology and improve our online presence as a country. Our competitor countries are already doing that. So, if we want to talk about sustainability we need to keep evolving by using more modern and efficient technological solutions. Old school PR activities and trade fairs are not sufficient any more.
- What would you say is Greece’s best kept “secret”? (In other words, what shouldn’t be a secret in your opinion and should be promoted more abroad?)
I believe that we should finally promote abroad the fact that Greece is not only the typical ‘Sea & Sun’ place to visit. We have, mistakenly, in the past cultivated only this idea for many years and now it takes great effort to change the perception of people abroad about Greece as a type of destination. We have beautiful winter destinations that people from other countries are not even aware of. So, if we want to promote our tourism sector we should stop having ‘our tourism product as our best kept secret’ and we should start becoming more extroverted by communicating to the world all the options that an inbound tourist has when visiting our country.
- If you could pass on a message to the hospitality industry about Greece, what would it be?
Tourism has experienced continued growth and is one of the fastest growing economic sectors in the world. The message that I would like to pass on, is to engage technology even more. Things are moving faster than ever and trends are changing constantly in the tourism and hospitality industry. Evolving traveler expectations are fueling technological innovation. There are so many tools available online and hospitality solutions right now and the only thing that hoteliers should do is to test and then accept or reject. For hoteliers to have any hope to succeed in this digital era, they need to eliminate any resistance to embracing technology and engage the technological solutions that are out there.
- What are your plans for the future?
Right now, I’m very enthusiastic about doing what I’m doing and being involved in the hospitality industry. I think it’s an exciting profession with a lot of promise and opportunities for advancement, and I’m excited for the next steps.
- If you didn’t work in the hospitality industry where would you be?
I think that if I didn’t work in the hospitality industry I would have worked in the sports industry. I have been practicing sports since young age, I studied sports sciences and generally sports have always been big part of my free time. It is something that energizes me and relaxes me at the same time.
Connect with Chara Georgiadou on LinkedIn