Xenia 2021 Sees Success After the Covid Halt
Eighteen months after the Covid-19 pandemic forced a delay, the Greek hospitality trade show Xenia opened its doors for three days in Athens to exhibitors, buyers, partners and members of the media.
During November 27-29, over 17,000 mask-wearing visitors passed through the doors of the Metropolitan Expo. The event may have attracted a smaller crowd compared to 2019 numbers (32,000), due to the strict Covid-19 measures, but the expo’s organizer Forum said Xenia 2021 is considered a success.
Speaking during the expo’s opening day, Greek Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias congratulated the organizer for setting up a complete covid-free event. Underlining that expectations for Greek tourism in 2022 are very high, Kikilias said that Xenia, being a leading trade show for tourism and hospitality professionals to meet and make deals, contributes to highlighting the quality of the country’s tourism offer.
Exclusively targeted at hospitality professionals, the expo’s categories include construction, decoration, hotel equipment, kitchen equipment, Food & Beverage, and digital technology solutions.
Through the days of the exhibition, the thousands of industry professionals and the 350 exhibitors discussed business, held talks to drive projects and concluded trade agreements.
“This huge success of the exhibition, confirmed its role as the leading platform for investment options in the industry, and created an atmosphere of optimism for a successful tourist season in 2022,” the organiser said.
The Xenia 2021 expo also offered visitors the chance to gain insight into the latest hospitality trends during the expo’s parallel events, Digi Hotel and Xenia Build. Among the main highlights of the exhibition was the 5th International Hospitality Forum of the Hellenic Chamber of Hotels and Phocuswright, held on the first day of Xenia.
Giving an account of their participation in Xenia 2021, exhibitors said they were satisfied by the high level of the event as well as the quality of the visiting audience. But it must also be mentioned that all exhibitors claimed to be “very excited” for the return of purely in-person meetings.
- Maria Theofanopoulou, Publisher of Greek Travel Pages (GTP)
“Having experienced the transition of trade shows from live, to cancelled or postponed, to digital, to hybrid, this year’s rebounded XENIA trade show reflected the renewed energy that exists in the travel sector to do business in person. It was a celebration for the reconnection of the industry.”
- Kostas Doukas, CEO/Co-founder of BookOnlineNow
“The mood during Xenia is positive business-wise and it’s a very good sign that professionals are returning to exhibitions… For sure, having face to face meetings is the best way to communicate with partners and potential clients. Beyond that, online meetings only make sense when there is no other way…
As for 2022, the market is showing positive signs despite the news of the new Covid variant. Right now we see that 2022 will be a year better than 2021… Of course, the data changes every day, but at the moment I believe that 2022 will go very well for business.”
- Dimitris Serifis, CEO of Nelios
“Here at Xenia we certainly see the need of the market to once again socialize, collaborate and create… Right now the market is showing us that many hotels have a large number of bookings – more than they had in November 2018 for 2019, without this meaning that the year will go very well. There is demand but there are no advance payments, that is, we are not dealing with non-refundable bookings that always give a good cash flow to the market in the winter. We are talking about bookings that offer very flexible cancellations and in some cases travelers can cancel three days before check in. So we have a given situation… However, consumers are making bookings from this time of the year, which shows us that pent-up demand is there. The question is if these will procced to give us business because obviously we are still on thin ice due to the new Covid variant. We have no idea how things will eventually go… The market can change in a second so I can’t say that 2022 will definitely be a very good year. Right now we have satisfying demand.”
- Vasilis Riavoglou, Business Development Manager at OTA Insight
“Taking part in Xenia is a very pleasant development because meeting partners and clients up close is something that can’t be replaced… Specifically in Greece, before the pandemic, there was reluctance with regards to online meetings. Covid brought the hybrid model concept that combines speed, flexibility – you can talk to anyone from anywhere on the planet… But again I must say that human contact can never be replaced… I must say that I am very optimistic for 2022. As a company we are back on track. Money is being invested in new products. We have a very large $80 million investment from Spectrum Equity, an American growth equity firm, which suggests that even if we take a step back, we are going to take many steps forward in the future. We are moving in a more positive direction towards 2022, which I think will be the year of recovery.”
- Haris Niskopoulos, General Manager of Kourtis Contract
“Exhibitions are part of the job, as they are connected with the marketing strategy we follow. It all comes down to personal contact: for people to see things up close, to sit down, to see the materials, etc… This is what I’m seeing here at Xenia even if we are all wearing masks and keeping distances from one another…
With regard to demand, I must say that it is high because when the market was closed due to Covid, entrepreneurs had the time to think about how their businesses will enter the post-covid era. After opening in the summer, hotel owners are now thinking of renovations and investments and we’re here for them.”
- Thomas Poulios, CEO & Chairman of HotelAvailabilities
“It is strange to be an exhibitor here around all these people after all this time, but it’s a good feeling… Technology, video calls and teleconferencing are great, but nothing beats a face-to-face meeting and being at Xenia is very important to us.
I believe 2022 will be a very unusual year. Right now, when analyzing the data, I see a difference in the way bookings are being carried out compared to the years before the health crisis. Which means that there are customers but they are hesitant and waiting to see how the situation will develop… There is optimism in the air but we will have the real picture in the coming months… We’ll see if bookings for 2022 pick up or if we will have cancellations and then we will have a clear picture of how the season will go.”
- Iason Milionis, Founder & CEO of Hotelwize
“We were looking forward to this event, which has exceeded our expectations in terms of attendance. It seems that the industry has not only returned but is taking a leap into the future with great momentum and new faces… Tourism in general seems that it will go very well next year but right now I can’t make a comparison or assessment in relation to the pre-Covid-19 year of 2019. I do believe is that the competition for old hotels will be high. There are many new rooms and new properties are coming in, so if tourism stays at 2019 levels, the competition for the older hotels which did not evolve, will be very high and they will probably be under pressure. So I believe that it all will depend on what actions everyone has taken post-Covid and how prepared they are to capitalize on the demand.
- Miltiadis Karatzimas, Regional Sales Manager at SuitePad
“Xenia has achieved its goal, helping professionals overcome any fears and take the necessary steps to form a dynamic season. In other words, we see that hoteliers themselves are willing to invest in new technologies and overcome the impact of the pandemic.
Covid acted as an accelerator for the digitization of services and now hoteliers see that digitizing their services is not only an option but a necessity and we are witnessing many things in a hotel room going digital… Generally speaking, digitization has progressed and has also helped hotels with operational costs to offer a more seamless service.
The market’s first signs show that we should be expecting a very big comeback. Already in 2021, some areas such as Mykonos and Santorini surpassed 2019 figures. 2022 appears to be a promising year from both abroad and from Greece – this is something we are seeing in new investments taking place in our country. So if we do not have any surprises – because you never know what might happen in the world – I believe that 2022 will be, if not a record year, a year that will definitely reach the numbers of 2019 and maybe even surpass them.”
Forum: Xenia 2021 was an absolute commercial success
“Xenia 2021, after three – highly successful commercial and visiting – days contributed to the dynamic restart of Greek tourism, highlighted the main pillars on which its new model will be based and with its 350 exhibitors marked a bright and profitable future, for professionals in the tourism industry,” the organizer said, announcing that plans are already in process for next year’s edition.
The Greek Travel Pages (GTP) was a media partner to the Xenia 2021 exhibition.