‘Passion is Key in Hospitality’ – Interview with Ioannis Galanis, GM at Infinity Suites-Dana Villas on Santorini
Passion, vision, hard work and teamwork are words to live by when working in the hospitality industry, according to Ioannis Galanis, the General Manager at Infinity Suites – Dana Villas & Suites on the Greek island of Santorini.
“Joining the hospitality industry was my passion and dream … I was inspired by the challenges this industry creates and to have the chance to interact with guests from different cultures from all the world,” Galanis told GTP Headlines.
“I enjoy the daily interaction with customers and the satisfaction that comes from accomplishing goals and handling challenging situations. My biggest reward is to offer my guests an unforgettable experience,” he says.
With many years of work experience under his belt, for the past two years Galanis is running the show at the Infinity Suites – Dana Villas & Suites on Santorini, one of Greece’s most popular and upscale destinations.
GTP: Please share some career highlights with our readers.
Ioannis Galanis: As a career highlight, I must refer to the basis of my first hotel training: the Santa Marina Resorts & Villas on the island of Mykonos, where I stayed for four years. It was a great opportunity to gain experience as it was one of the most well known resort hotels in Greece at that time, with international clientele. The demanding environment of the property gave me the opportunity to obtain experience that remains extremely important for my future development. Another career highlight was that I undertook the position of general manager at Ostraco Suites, again on Mykonos island. This position, in combination with my young age and the trust in my abilities by the property owners, gave me the opportunity to develop and introduce new ideas and operational procedures focused on personalized customer experience. That, in addition to the further development of the property, led the hotel to become a member of the Small Luxury Hotels. Looking back at the six special seasons at Ostraco, it is is touching to remember the feeling to take control of a project and – with hard work and new ideas – watch it successfully evolve over the years.
GTP: Based on your experience as a hospitality professional, what is one unexpected shift you’ve seen in guest expectations and demands in recent years?
Ioannis Galanis: According to my experience, it is the lure of unique luxury. In the guests’ “quest” for luxury accommodation, they combine their search for a luxurious property experience with also a unique and different accommodation concept, to offer themselves an even more unique experience. We should consistently be focused on innovation and in parallel provide top notch services to our guests but always keep in mind that we have to be unique in what we do.
GTP Headlines’ pick:
“My philosophy lies in teamwork. Good managers are judged not only according to their personal success but also by the level of their team’s success…” – Ioannis Galanis
GTP: What did Dana Villas see missing from the market and then decide to introduce the Infinity Suites? How does the product offer guests the perfect, luxurious, vacation?
Ioannis Galanis: The Infinity Suites unique villas and suites concept was designed and created by one of the owners of Dana Villas, Panagiotis Salapatas, who through his designs and room plans wanted to offer the infinity guests – apart from a luxurious experience – a unique and fun experience. The space and pool designs and the way the accommodation intertwines with the facilities of each suite takes the experience a step further. To this he added one very important factor, which is maximum outdoor privacy, something vary rare on the Santorini caldera and for most properties one of the biggest problems. The Infinity Suites take accommodation on the caldera cliffside to a different level as they are entirely based on what other properties have not done. Each suite has its own philosophy behind the design, offering a different experience depending on each guests’ demands and needs. By taking over the management of Dana Villas and the Infinity Suites in the early stages of the project’s creation, I was able to establish a new personalized services concept based on detail and adapted to the unique philosophy of the suites.
GTP: Santorini is one of Greece’s most popular destinations worldwide. What should travelers expect from their visit to the island in combination with their stay in one of the Infinity Suites of Dana Villas?
Ioannis Galanis: Santorini is the most unique and iconic Greek island, famous all over the world for the unique caldera, its cliffside traditional towns and of course breathtaking sunset. The island itself offers everything there is to do on a world class destination these days. Everything the island has to offer should be combined with an unforgettable, unique and fun accommodation experience, offering exclusive suite facilities and exclusive privacy while overlooking the views and sunsets. The Infinity Suite offers guests a sense of maximum privacy and freedom and the feeling that they have a small private part of the cliffside just to themselves. This, in combination with the personalized services of the infinity team, offer the absolute Santorini experience our guests can expect.
GTP: What concerns do you have as a hospitality professional?
Ioannis Galanis: Working in the world of hospitality is an amazing experience. However, it is very demanding with daily challenges. Managers must find their own strengths in order to bring balance and success to their careers. I strongly believe that patience and consistency are of an immense importance in this job. I believe that the key points for me begin from doing everything with passion, having a string vision, working hard, always being a fair player.
My philosophy lies in teamwork. A strong united team is an asset for for any hospitality business. Strong teamwork can make a business thrive, will overcome problems, encourage and support new team members.
Good managers are judged not only according to their personal success but also by the level of their team’s success. The stronger the team players, the better the manager performs and is able to take care of all the details that make the difference, especially in a boutique hotel. Recruiting is crucial, but training is even more important. When I am looking for new people to work with, I search for professionals who have a vision, who share my ideas about what hospitality is all about, and who want to be part of a team that will constantly evolve in order to offer an exclusive and personalized service that will exceed the expectations of guests and bring them to the next level.
GTP Headlines’ pick:
“In the hospitality and tourism business, effective use of Internet technologies can improve revenue….” – Ioannis Galanis
GTP: How important is technology in the hotel industry? How much has the industry changed because of it? And how does a hotel blend technology and hospitality successfully?
Ioannis Galanis: Technology plays an important role in the hospitality and tourism industry. Both customers and businesses can benefit from advances in communication, reservations and guest services systems. Technology allows continuous communication and streamlines the guest experience, from reservation to checkout.
The Internet has a powerful impact on hospitality and tourism. For many hotels and locations, the experience starts long before a traveler arrives – it begins with the first visit to the website, when a person sees photos of the location and gets a sense of what to expect. In the hospitality and tourism business, effective use of Internet technologies can improve revenue.
Websites, blogs, online advertising, social media, online ordering and information repositories all help convince customers to choose a location or business.
Global booking engines also allow easy access for consumers and travel professionals; the systems enable individuals to make reservations and compare prices. Many, like Expedia, Booking and Orbitz, are available through online interfaces. Booking engines cut costs for travel businesses by reducing call volume and give the traveler more control over their purchasing process.
Because many tourism businesses are large and dispersed, they use computer systems to stay connected. Computer systems allow communication between branches and locations which makes it easier to streamline reservations and cross-company policies. They are also used internally to keep all of the staff on the same page and make it easier to access information that can improve the guest experience: guest preferences, housekeeping information and reservation details can all be kept on a single system.
Many travelers take some form of mobile communication device with them on the road, whether it is a tablet computer or a mobile phone. To keep customers aware of updates and changes, many tourism and hospitality businesses use mobile communication; they send delay notices, offer deals and sponsor location-based advertising. Depending on the type of business, the communication might happen through emails, text messaging or GPS tagging, for example.
GTP Headlines’ pick:
“I feel safe to say that 2018 will be the best season yet…” – Ioannis Galanis
GTP: What are Dana Villas’ future plans?
Ioannis Galanis: Considering the impact the honeymoon pool suite has had on the market for the last two years, achieving 300,000,000 views, placing the property and the Infinity Suites as the “must” place to stay when on Santorini, combined with services and exclusive amenities, and thus putting the property on the “bucket list” of thousands of future guests, there is only one path and that is to develop further.
GTP: Although it is still quite early, what is your forecast for this year’s tourism season on Santorini?
Ioannis Galanis: The past years Santorini has shown a significant increase in demand from guests and markets from all over the world. This increase has converted the island from a summer hot spot to an all year round destination, also offering a variety of activities and accommodation options even in the winter months – something unique among the islands of the South Aegean region. The 2018 season has shown its increase in demand compared to previous successful years but what is more suprising is that the off season has shown an increase already with demand far further in advance than previous years, showing us that the upcoming winter season also has the potential to be more successful than previous seasons. The Infinity Suites operate 12 months a year as all pool facilities can be heated up to 38°C and with Dana Villas being an established all year property for the last 15 years, I feel safe to say that 2018 will be the best season yet.