TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: How popular is Greece to travellers from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region?
MANOS VATZOLAS: I am afraid that the number of our guests travelling from the MENA region is still not as high as expected.
However, we do experience an increase [compared to the corresponding period in 2016], which is mainly justified due to the fact that two of our properties, Domes of Elounda and Domes Noruz Chania, Autograph Collection have recently joined Marriott International, which has a strong presence in these markets.
We have more expectations from our MENA guests and the locations where we operate are very unique for the luxury market.
It is not a secret however, that this year’s forecast is also directly connected with the geopolitical situation of our neighboring, competitive markets as well the expensive pricing of more traditional destinations, including Spain, Italy, Southern France.
Greece, this year provides an amazing proposition, a safe and excellent value for money offering! This season Greece has a unique opportunity, to deliver up to standard and exceed visitors’ satisfaction!
TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: How do you cater to your MENA visitors in order to satisfy their unique requirements?
MANOS VATZOLAS: We believe our offering fully covers the MENA customers’ needs. Our private natural sandy beach, international high standard luxury services, enhanced privacy, cultural sensitivity and villas with private swimming pools, are only a small sample of our product.
The easy transfer from Crete’s airports, our private helipad, our fusion local cuisine and our private chef and butler service on demand, all complete the setting and cover the needs of the most demanding MENA guests. The company heavily invests in the villa sector.
Villa privacy when combined with luxury hotel services is a unique selling point to the MENA guest and this is where we will continue investing.
TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: According to the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE), more than 30 million people visited Greece in 2016, which is an all-time record for the country. What are you doing to further increase arrivals, especially from the MENA region, in the long term?
MANOS VATZOLAS: This is the result of the collective work of SETE, the Ministry of Tourism and a number of active hotel groups in the country, all working together to properly reposition the Greek product abroad.
Our number one priority is to exceed our guests‘ expectations and indirectly promote Greece, Domes Resorts and Autograph Collection Hotels by Marriott International.
We will then continue our multiple international exposure and also invest in less traditional markets for us including MENA, Australia, Asia, India and Latin America. More exposure and participation to MENA trade shows is for sure in the agenda.
Should things go according to plan, and more MENA visitors invest in their holidays in Greece, there are more to consider, including medical tourism investments, service changes as to target more religious guests, female spa and gym.
Halal is a future consideration for us and we are in the stage of further research.
In the meantime we are happy to co-operate closely with our VIP’s and local suppliers, prepare our kitchens accordingly, offer unused utensils and go the extra mile to the extend needed, as to offer an experience as close to home as possible.