At the upcoming Mediterranean Resort & Hotel Real Estate Forum, Oct. 17-19 in Athens, Louis Hotels' COO Savvas Perdios will participate in the session “How to Optimally Run a Mediterranean Resort,” discussing the unique operational requirements of the region's destination properties.
A veteran hotelier, Perdios’ career in hospitality began when he was 15, working various summer jobs in hotel departments like kitchen, maintenance, service, banqueting, housekeeping and guest relations. He graduated from the Ecole Hoteliere de Lausanne in Switzerland where he earned numerous worldwide opportunities for operations management internships with a variety of hotel companies.
Ahead of the conference, Perdios, who also is involved with Louis Hotels' strategy and development, discussed the future of hospitality in the Mediterranean, the differences between Greece and Cyprus and the challenges facing the region as a whole.
1. What would you say are the major trends in hotel investment and development in the Eastern Mediterranean region?
Investments in low-capacity hotels (between 100 and 200 rooms) and mainly in the four- and five-star segment, which commands higher rates/profitability. In the future it is possible that demand for three-star hotels also will be on the rise, as a result of the current oversupply in four- and five-star properties.
2. What are the similarities and differences between the markets of Greece and Cyprus? How do they reflect in your hotels?
As far as differences are concerned, Greece has an abundance of island destinations, whereas Cyprus is one island destination. This means that it’s easier to get repeat visitors in Greece, because they have more places of interest to visit. Therefore, we try to be in as many of the most popular Greek islands as possible so that our guests have an incentive to tour Greece repeatedly while staying with us. On a strategy level, this also helps us diversify our risk. With regard to similarities between the two countries, raw materials, hospitality of the people, and weather are almost identical, so this helps us standardize our product as much as possible. Obviously, this means we can manage guest expectations by creating a product that is consistent across the board.
3. What are the biggest challenges of operating resorts in the Mediterranean?
On the revenue side, the biggest challenge is our high dependency on packaged holidays, sold, of course, by tour operators. They control most incoming flights, so they have control of our room inventory as well; as a result we don’t have absolute freedom on setting our own prices. On the operational side, our biggest challenge is the lack of skilled staff; few trained workers could imagine adopting an island as a home, and seasonality compounds the problem because it makes us unable to guarantee year-round jobs.
4. What are the most performing amenities of your resorts? Is it all about the pool, the restaurants, the spa, something else?
Being an operator of predominantly all-inclusive hotels, we tend to sell pre-paid packages with little scope for additional revenues on the spot. That said, the variety of in-house F&B facilities, as well as modern water features (e.g., swim-up rooms), and, of course, room comfort are key factors in helping us command higher rates.
5. How important is the wellness component for the Louis brands? How can wellness considerations increase the value of a hotel property?
Our hotels are focused mainly on the family segment, so it’s more about the children than the parents. Activities, sport, and family entertainment are more important to our guests than wellness opportunities. That said, we do recognize that even parents on holiday with their children may need a winding-down session from time to time, so all our hotels offer treatments like massages and relaxation therapies. We follow wellness trends closely and hopefully we will be able to integrate them even further into our core product.
6. You have always worked in hospitality: how would you describe Mediterranean hospitality?
I would describe it as very different to ‘western’ hospitality. We may not have the highly skilled staff or historic culture of destinations like central Europe and the U.S., but we make up for it with genuine hospitality, tasty cuisine and unique natural environments. Our guests care more about authentic simplicity than they do about service perfection.
7. What is your ideal holiday experience?
As a hotelier, you always try to visit places that can inspire you with new ideas for implementation in your own line of business. At the same time, you know all too well the pitfalls of traveling in the peak season, when service is never at its best and resorts [are] too crowded. So I always choose to holiday at the end of the season, at small, ultra-modern hotels, with innovative concepts, health[ful] (but tasty) food, chatty and welcoming staff and, of course an abundance of stillness and nature. This is an energy-sapping industry we are in,and only nature can recharge your batteries properly.
8. What are you most looking forward to at MR&H this year?
Understanding how sustainable the current momentum for hotel and resort development in the Mediterranean is, and the incentives behind it.