“New Faces” is a column by GTP that introduces the young professionals of the Greek tourism industry. In each column, the young Greek professionals refer to issues related to their profession, the travel & tourism sector and Greece as a destination.
“Greece is more than just a holiday destination. Greece is a “must” destination of a lifetime. People come once and they make friends here. Then it becomes a lovely routine and they can’t wait for their next visit.”
Nikos graduated from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in 2006 with a BSc on Physical Education and Sport Sciences and also obtained his MSc on Human Performance and Health from there. He worked for Booking.com CS in Amsterdam Headquarters for 2,5 years. Combining work and studies, Nikos obtained a second MSc on International Hospitality Management from Wittenborg University (NL) and the University of Brighton (UK). He continued his “Dutch dream”, working for CitizenM hotel chain as a Support Office Coordinator and in 2016, he decided to move back to Greece with one thing on his mind: to open his own hotel. He got a job at Expedia Athens and, while working for the company, was in search for centrally located buildings to open a hotel. His dream came true when he found the ideal property in the heart of Athens historic center. In February 2017 he left Expedia and began renovation works with his wife and business partner, Maria Papageorgiou (civil engineer & project manager), to convert an office building into a 14-room boutique hotel in the central Athens neighborhood of Thissio at 33 Nileos Street, named “Be My Guest Athens”.
- What are the things you like best about your job and how would you describe your hospitality and tourism management philosophy?
What I really like most is to see happy faces in my work environment. Faces of happy staff, happy guests happy stakeholders. I decided to enter the hospitality sector as it is an anthropocentric sector. Whoever is on holidays is in a “happy mood”. My hospitality and tourism management philosophy is that “I go the extra mile… with a smile”!
- Have you had to face any challenges in your career to get to where you are today?
Yes, during the renovation phases of my hotel. It was an office building which myself and my team converted to a boutique hotel. I had to fight with the bureaucracy procedures, and it was hard to raise capital and finish the project on time. I had a deadline to meet, as the hotel’s occupancy was scheduled to be filled by a group of international law students in a short time.
- In regards to hospitality, where do you think Greece needs to improve the most?
I’d have to say Marketing! In the past years, an important effort is taking place to promote Greek tourism worldwide. This needs to be improved and continued.
- 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?)
The excellent customer service Greek staff provide to tourists. This is not only my opinion, but this is what I hear every day from my guests who are loyal Greek destination fans.
- What is your favorite destination and beach in Greece and why?
My favorite place is Athens’ historic center, the Acropolis area. I love walking around there. The moment I moved back from The Netherlands where I stayed for five years, I told myself “Nikos, you’re lucky. Your journey has ended, as you finally found your destination!”.
- If you could pass on a message to the hospitality industry about Greece, what would it be?
That Greece is more than just a holiday destination. Greece is a “must” destination of a lifetime. People come once and they make friends here. Then it becomes a lovely routine and they can’t wait for their next visit. I’d like to add that many people think Greece is just a summer destination. This happens due to the lack of promotion from our side. Greece has an amazing countryside, beautiful lakes and mountains, rivers, winter resorts for skiing and other winter activities. Greek culinary is unbeatable as well as the Greek products such as red and white wine, olive oil and – of course – feta cheese!
- What are your plans for the future?
My big plan is to grow my business and for “Be My Guest Athens” to become an international hotel chain. I remember a friend of mine living in the UK, advised me to open a hotel in London city. I told him that for this project, I need a “big truck, full of cash inside!”. He replied… “hmmmm, you only need a big track full of dreams and passion, both of which you have!”.
- If you didn’t work in the hospitality industry where would you be?
My bachelor and my first MSc studies are on Physical Education and Sport Sciences. Before entering the hospitality sector, I was working as a Group Exercise Leader and Fitness Instructor. I was planning to open my own gym, something that eventually didn’t happen (fortunately!).
Connect with Nikos Anthrakidis on LinkedIn