Mr. Katsopoulos welcome, it’s a pleasure having you at Parkland Hospitality Group.
It’s not your first time and definitely not the last. You are the CEO of People of the world- an online travel agency based in Greece for 8 years already and a world traveler for 20 years.
Throughout these 18 years of existence, People of the World has a portfolio of over 140,000 hotels across 138 countries, working with the Greek market and introducing the best Greek tour itineraries. Tell us something more about PoW and Fam trips, the story, its philosophy and tools?
We started the transformation of the company from a corporate travel agent to a regional wholesaler and DMC in the heart of the Greek economic crisis back in 2011. We had a clear vision that will lead us forever: Quality personalized services with competitive rates and innovation technology. There is no b2b, for us there is human to human, so we have to be first of all friendly and reachable and of course professional and effective to the services we provide to the travel agencies. Fam trips create relationships, improve the knowledge of travel consultants regarding culture and the travel experience of a destination. So we achieve two important goals with fam trips: bringing people together and open new destinations.
The reason for your stay in Skopje this time is the Fam Trip gathering of Cypriot travel agencies in Skopje (16-19 Feb), or more specifically in Park Hotel and Spa and Next Door Park Hotel. What was the initial motive for this cooperation and what are the future plans?
We sell now in 8 markets, N. Macedonia is one of them and we follow the same approach to all of them. We have over 2.800 direct contracts in Greece, Cyprus, and Italy, in order to create inbound travel and the market to get benefit from our presence. This is the reason that in cooperation with Parkland Hospitality Group we organized this Fam trip where 15 directors of the biggest tour operators of Cyprus will have the chance to experience the travel product of N. Macedonia. There is a very good potential from the moment that there are two weekly flights from Larnaca airport, but N. Macedonia for Cypriots is an unknown destination so we feel that after this Fam trip the prospects will be very positive.
When and how did you get first acquainted with Parkland Hospitality and what’s your opinion?
The beginning was 3 years ago when we had a meeting with the General Manager of Parkland Hospitality Group Mr. Panagiotis Kolokathis, a very clever and open mind professional. After my first visit to Skopje and my first stay in Parkland Hospitality, I realized that we have here beside professionalism, a luxury-level hotel with top-notch facilities. This is the reason that I always chose Parkland Hospitality for my personal visits to Skopje and it will be of course our basic partner in this project.
The market potential of our country as of hospitality has really increased in the several past years, the number of tourists also, what is your opinion on the current situation with the hospitality industry here and in the region?
I think that the enemy of the good is the best. The level is increasing of course and this is the key to attracting more tourists. I strongly believe that we have to improve ourselves and our business every single day. It is an endless procedure if we want to stay on top and you know sometimes competition is pushing us over our edge and makes us better. I think that it is positive for the growth of the market.
This market has opened many new opportunities and benefits for the people who’d like to explore the country. It’s worth mentioning that recently a new Wizz air airline connection has been established between Skopje and Larnaca. What does this mean for the market and hospitality in general?
It is a great chance, the prospects are very good, I am sure that with the right promotion and approach the traffic will be improved. I think that the best is in from of us.
What are your expectations for future developments in hospitality in the region and the country more specifically?
I think that any hotel that follows the Global treads instead of local it is easier to improve its standards and move to high levels of client experience. I am sure that in the next years N. Macedonia will increase, even more, the incoming travel and tourist flow will also increase, altogether with the level of hospitality and services generally. I think that investments in hospitality in N. Macedonia are in a positive trending.
What is it that you count as your biggest success, individually as a world traveler and as a CEO of People of the world?
That I created a solid team who feels that we are family. We share the same vision and this is driving us to become better every day. You know, companies are empty without the right people and the right vision. We innovate, we try to find new products and projects, we grow quite fast so we have to be careful to keep our values and have the same professionalism every single day. I love this job, I am in tourism for the last 30 years and I always say that this job is a marathon, not a sprint so we have to be ready to change the rhythm in this long path.