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Interview – Tasos Lazaridis: A Social Media Strategy is Essential for Greek Tourism Businesses

“If you’re not ‘speaking’ directly to your audience through social platforms, you’re missing out,” says Tasos Lazaridis.

A social media expert, who handles many third-party accounts in the Greek tourism industry, Tasos gives us his expertise on how social media platforms can boost the reputation and sales of businesses of all sizes. “The top reason brands fail to see results from their efforts is a lack of strategy,” Tasos tells GTP Headlines.

Having studied Classical Literature with a Master’s Degree in Modern Greek, and then successfully completing his PhD in Modern Greek Studies, Tasos was drawn to write in various print and electronic media.

A few years later, and due to his extensive involvement with social media as well as the numerous relevant seminars he attended in Greece and abroad, Tasos began to undertake certain third-party accounts, including many in the tourism industry. “A travel business, being highly visual, can get a lot of value from a strong presence on social media,” he underlines.

Today, Tasos manages several accounts, both for corporate companies and significant hotels. He also delivers training courses for marketing teams or CEOs on social media, and maintains a blog – Posh Fashion – where he mainly hosts experiential features for major events, worldwide destinations worth visiting, and general articles for luxury lifestyle.

Tasos is also a member of the jury at the Greek Hotel of the Year Awards for the second time in a row.

“In social media posts, the language is not just the words that you use but the thoughts that are expressed… Great marketing on social media can bring remarkable success to your business, create devoted brand advocates and even drive leads and sales.”

Tasos Lazaridis – Social media expert
Tasos Lazaridis (right) with Panagiotis Iglesis and Artemis Argyrou of Athina Luxury Suites during the Greek Hotel of the Year Awards ceremony in 2019.

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GTP: Tasos, please tell our readers a bit about yourself. How did you get involved professionally in social media and digital marketing?

How it all started is kind of karmic I would say. Having studied modern Greek, I used to write in various print and electronic media, and one day a close friend of mine suggested that I should do for myself what what I was doing successfully for others. At first, I didn’t believe that something like that could work. That was until one day, ten years ago, without even asking me, my friend had my blog ready and handed me the passwords. That was when I began my journey into the world of the internet and social media. Being a pure perfectionist, in order to respond even better to my new role, I began attending various seminars intensively to constantly learn new updates on both theoretical and practical levels. For me, the basis from day one until today, from the time of my classical studies until now, is the language itself, regarding both the text of the blog posts and the captions of the social media posts. For me, the language is not just the words that you use but the thoughts that are expressed.

GTP: Just how powerful is social media and digital marketing?

Social media marketing is a powerful way for businesses of all sizes to reach prospects and customers. Contemporary customers – or people, as I prefer to call them – are already interacting with brands through social media, and if you’re not “speaking” directly to your audience through social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Linkedin, you’re missing out! Great marketing on social media can bring remarkable success to your business, create devoted brand advocates and even drive leads and sales.
For example, an e-commerce or travel business, being highly visual, can get a lot of value from a strong presence on social media.

GTP: Although we all agree that having a social media presence is vital these days, it has been noticed that many Greek small business owners in tourism do not invest enough in social media (have a very small or no presence, do not even bother using hashtags) and sometimes do not even invest in an attractive website. Is this a case of not enough awareness? What would your message be to these business owners?

Social media marketing is the most cost effective way to reach a targeted audience. However, recent data shows that a clear majority of small businesses aren’t seeing positive return on investment. The top reason brands fail to see results from their efforts is a lack of strategy. Also, according to a recent survey, the majority of small businesses are spending less than two hours a week on social media marketing, so there is not enough time for investment. As a result, small businesses abandon their efforts and are quick to characterize social media as “ineffective”, something that is completely wrong. My advice would be that if you want any of the cost-effective benefits of social media marketing, invest the time. And get an expert to do the job!

GTP: What is the best way to develop a social media strategy for small businesses that can be both actionable and provide a return?

A few years ago, you could use social media to reach thousands of people and drive solid website traffic. Today, having no advertising budget for social media can drastically hinder your results. Despite the fact that there is not a generic strategy for having some good results, there is something in common that applies to all businesses: apart from the administration fees, you need an advertising budget – but you don’t need to break the bank!

GTP: Which is the best social media platform for promoting Greek tourism and businesses of the sector?

That depends on your target: if your target audience is millennials, being on Instagram and TikTok seems like the right decision. It is essential to understand your audience’s behavior and how they will discover your brand and business on social. Facebook’s new mission – as stated recently by its founder, Mark Zuckerberg – is to “Give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together”. So if you are a local business, Facebook is a great platform that allows you to interact with your local community and build awareness around your brand. Once you understand the purpose of each social platform, it will allow you to narrow down which platform will be best for your business. Regarding tourism businesses, as I continue to deal many hotels with no instagram account, I would strongly suggest that they should start rethinking it, as the modern traveler doesn’t just buy a room, but the whole experience transmitted by the images. Making your presence known on social media can make all the difference and bring new interest to your brand. What’s more, customers can get more of an insight into what your hotel is about, as well as leaving feedback, which is really important both for your data base and for your own improvement.

GTP: Besides managing many accounts for corporate companies and hotels, you also run “Posh Fashion”, a blog that is updated frequently with topics related to travel, fashion and lifestyle. Can you give our readers some more information about your blog? What is your main focus?

The main focus of ‘Posh Fashion’ is the modern luxury lifestyle and the experiential traveling in Greece and abroad. I try to combine experiences worth living on one hand, but always on the basis of a more general social attitude. A good example of that is ‘Dinner in the Sky Athens’, a top listed must do experience in Greece, which is constantly highlighted in a more ethical way: an event where 22 unknown people from all over the world suddenly become a group of friends who dine all together without counting borders, races, color and origin. For me that is truly and emotionally wonderful, and that message i am into transmitting most!

Tasos Lazaridis (right) with Alexandros Papadopoulos, Owner and Managing Director of Dinner in the Sky Athens during the 5th season of operation.

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GTP: You obviously travel alot for “Posh Fashion”, so tell me, what Greek destination – or destinations – stand out for you? And also, what would you say is Greece’s strongest tourism product?

Ancient archaeological sites, picture perfect islands, powder beaches, and the sea breeze of the Mediterranean, all make Greece one of the most coveted tourist destinations in the world. For me our top greek ‘product’ – apart from the Acropolis of Athens – is the Caldera of Santorini, one of the most impressive sights in the world! I still remember how completely dazzled i was when i first saw the astonishing views from Athina Luxury Suites. In fact, despite having traveled alot, still nothing has beaten this feeling so far. That’s why Santorini is no longer just a summer destination, nor just a wedding venue. The island fully operates almost 9 months per year with many “things to do” around.

GTP: You also are a member of the judging panel of the Greek Hotel of the Year Awards, which aim to showcase the best hotels and resorts in Greece. For you, what makes a hotel stand out?

One way to make your hotel stand out is to quickly adopt new technologies. Guests will appreciate the ease and convenience your property provides them and your hotel will stand out in their minds.
The future is smart – so the hotels should be smart too!
A “smart” hotel makes use of internet-enabled devices, which are capable of sending data to one another, and are tied in with the idea of the “Internet of Things”.
A smart hotel might, for example, allow guests to control the heating or air conditioning from their phone, or turn on the TV by giving a voice command to a smart speaker. In many cases, smart rooms also automatically adjust things like the brightness of light bulbs, or the temperature of a radiator, in order to maintain optimal conditions.

GTP: As a judge for the Greek Hotel of the Year Awards, how do you see the Greek hospitality industry evolving?

Nowadays travel is more frequent. The hotel industry has continued to evolve alongside changing demographic trends and technological advancements and has become a highly complex segment of the economy. In modern times, the current trends in the hospitality industry revolve around comfort and exceptional guest service. One more thing that I have also noticed is that many hotels invest nowadays in high aesthetics interior and exterior design trying to create a unique concept, both in design and branding, for their properties in order to upgrade the experience provided to their guests.

GTP: What are the trends that are likely to grow this year in hospitality and tourism?

The hospitality industry is extremely competitive, and it is important for businesses operating within it to keep up with the latest trends, in order to avoid being left behind. The need for personalisation is a major trend, and the hospitality industry is no different. Increasingly, customers are concerned with environmental issues and want to know that the businesses they deal with are behaving ethically. For this reason, sustainability has been one of the most noticeable hospitality trends of recent times, with a growing number of hospitality businesses promoting their eco-friendliness. Another trend that those in the hospitality industry are getting to grips with is the desire for tourists or travellers to enjoy local experiences. Last but not least, the trend for healthy food and drinks – including gluten free, dairy free, low fat, vegetarian, vegan and organic options – has already extended to hotels, as people became more aware of the things they are putting in their bodies.

GTP: Do you have any future plans that you care to share with our readers?

I am currently further expanding my social media services with platforms like TikTok and WeChat, while my future business plan is to focus more on ‘Bleisure’ – trips combining business travel with leisure activities – that is increasingly popular, especially among the millennial generation.
‘Bleisure’ travellers are likely to want spontaneous services, excellent access to information and fast communication, and mobile apps are one way to achieve this.

About the Author
Nikos is Greek-American born in New York, USA, and has lived in Greece for over 30 years. He is the managing editor of Greece's leading monthly travel and tourism guide, the Greek Travel Pages (GTP) since June 2008 and of news site GTP Headlines since its launch in September 2012. Nikos has also served as international press officer for the City of Athens and for the mayor. He has a degree in Mass Media and Communications, specializing in Journalism. Nikos is a native English speaker and speaks Greek fluently.

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