Having felt that large management companies fail to deliver the quality of sales services that a hotel needs these days, Greek business strategist, Panos Leontopoulos, decided to take action and last year founded Hotelistas, a company that aims to provide uniqueness and customization within the hospitality industry.
“Each hotel has different business models and needs. In other words they need tailor-made services and business solutions. This is where Hotelistas steps in,” Leontopoulos tells GTP Headlines.
Hotelistas aims to simplify hospitality complexity.
“Our target is to assist hoteliers maximize their profit through sales or consulting management,” he says, underlining that the company brings real value on sales, while hoteliers enjoy the maximum revenue out of their room sales.
The company’s fields of expertise and professionalism are related to Project Development, Strategic Planning, Sales Management, HR Recruiting, Business Consulting and Corporate Administration.
“For Hotelistas a dream scenario is that all hotels and properties in Greece understand the high value of our tourism product and operate their business based on a well-studied strategy.” – Panos Leontopoulos
- GTP: Panos, please share some career highlights with our readers.
Panos Leontopoulos: I would like to first thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my opinion on today’s tourism affairs.
I have studied hotel management on Rhodes and business administration at the University of Piraeus. After a long pass through various positions at the front line of the hotel industry, I took a short break and worked for a bank in Greece. My employment at the banking sector revealed my passion for sales. After this short period, I returned to the hospitality industry and held sales positions in well-known brands and hotel chains.
Back in 2012, my expertise in sales and management lead me to the position of General Manager at a startup company. Under my leadership, this startup project quickly transformed into a market leader in Reservation Management.
Nevertheless, I recently felt that large management companies fail in offering the quality of sales services that a hotel needs in our days. Being passionate in offering tailor-made solutions I founded Hotelistas in 2018, presenting uniqueness and customization in the hospitality industry.
- GTP: Tell us a bit about Hotelistas. I understand that the company is a personal effort of yours. How exactly did the idea occur and was it difficult to implement?
Panos Leontopoulos: Being a manager for a long time I had the opportunity to discuss with many hoteliers. During those meetings they each described to me different business models and needs for their hotels. The majority of hoteliers was looking for something customizable, however large management companies cannot offer such tailor-made services. I decided to combine this market need together with an urgent need to professionalize hotel sales, so, as an answer: Hotelistas is my contribution to the tourism industry.
- GTP: The company delivers personalized sales management services to hotels and applies revenue management techniques to maximize turnover. Exactly what “problems” does Hotelistas solve for hotels? Can you share a few examples of the services and solutions provided by the company?
Panos Leontopoulos: The Greek hotel market consists of many small or family-managed hotels, as well as many properties that appear to be the secondary job for many engineers, local shop owners, managers or employees of various companies etc. The lack of expertise among these hoteliers leads to a low sales performance. Additionally, while larger hotels seem to work fine with travel agencies and tour operators, they cannot compete in online sales as they have not setup their OTAs network in a professional manner.
We often see hotel profiles, mostly online, with tremendous errors on their OTAs listings. These errors usually are in regards to content management, room types setup and of course rate management policies. It is those kind of errors that we fix. We originally design a whole sales strategy for the hotel, consisting of commercial policy, proper OTAs setup and intense yield management. Our job brings real value on sales, while hoteliers enjoy the maximum revenue out of their room sales.
- GTP: As a “boutique” hotel sales company, Hotelistas offers services to a select number of hotel units and provides fully personalized services. Does this also mean that your services are only available to hotels of specific categories or are all hotels welcome?
Panos Leontopoulos: Anyone can work with Hotelistas. Our selection is only based on the way hoteliers understand and approach sales and their own hotel management.
We like to work with open minded professionals that acknowledge the value of sales management. We work with villas, small hotels or chains, city hotels, even holiday rentals. For Hotelistas a dream scenario is that all hotels and properties in Greece understand the high value of our tourism product and operate their business based on a well-studied strategy.
- GTP: In such a competitive market – as the hospitality market – what should hoteliers consider the most and what can put them ahead of their competitors?
Panos Leontopoulos: I always ask my partners to stay professional. Being a professional means that you study before making decisions of any kind. We study market trends, OTAs demands, hotel statistics, competition and other useful data. We evaluate every single detail and then make our decisions. That is how we maximize a hotel’s revenue. Just leave behind the old-fashioned management style and work on a revenue management model. This will bring a hotel ahead of competition.
- GTP: Today’s hotel guest seeks personalization. Just how difficult is it to find the ideal solution for hotels to attract these guests?
Panos Leontopoulos: Personalization in hotels is giving a concept. Travelers in our days are looking for genuine experiences. For new hotels this is easier, as their product can be designed under a specific concept from the beginning.
At Hotelistas we do work on project development and part of our job is to help hoteliers find the fields of differentiation. We can do this even if the hotel is in the market for years. It is fascinating to generate ideas for new projects and we are proud of being creative.
- GTP: In your opinion, how much has the hospitality industry changed since you entered the industry? Which would you say are the three main challenges hoteliers will likely face over the next few years?
Panos Leontopoulos: As a matter of fact everything has changed. I remember that when I was working for a large hotel on the Athenian Reviera, groups of travelers were filling the empty rooms and occasionally there were some phone calls from individuals asking for availability. In our days even tour operators sell online and OTAs have changed the market radically.
In the near future we will see more changes in the market. Online reservations will dominate, while traditional travel agencies and tour operators will transform into something new, or simply get out of market. We already saw a preview of what is going to happen. Bankruptcies, mergers, cooperations, everything was on the menu in 2019.
Traveler trends are also changing. As already mentioned, people are in search of genuine experiences and hoteliers have to follow these trends. Hoteliers have to become proactive and more creative.
We will also see that technology will help competition grow and – working on a well-planned manner – will be the only solution for survival.
- GTP: What are Hotelistas’ future plans? What will be the primary focus over the next year?
Panos Leontopoulos: Although hotel sales is not a new field for me, Hotelistas is a brand new project.
We have now focused on working with hotels in lesser-known destinations. Of course we will keep the boutique company style, cooperating with a small number of hotels. Apart from that, our target is to invent new tools for sales management and incorporate them within our daily sales battle. We only have the option of winning this battle and that’s what we plan to do.
- GTP: Panos, what message would you like to pass on to Greek hoteliers reading your interview?
Panos Leontopoulos: Get ready for huge changes. Stay alert and change the way you sell. It’s now or never.