The second day of the largest investment conference in Southeast Europe Adria Hotel Forum, began with a lecture on the topic Are you ready for GDPR? (Regulation on the protection of personal data in the tourism sector).
A panel on the currently most current global topic of the industry followed - Lack of skilled labor, led by a famous host Mislav Togonal. They participated in the panel Haris Neofytidis (Metropol Palace), Lachezar Nikolaev Todorov (Terra Tour Service), Michael Heyward (Glion Institute of Higher Education), Peter Ryrvik (Talent solutions AB) i Gordana Kolenko (BHV consulting), which in the introductory part of the panel presented the benchmark study Valamar Riviere, which uses sophisticated technology to define the formula for the success of its employees.
Neofytidis, whose company operates in several SEE countries, made a comparison of the waiters ’salaries at a 5-star hotel. In Greece, for older and more experienced waiters, it costs 700 to 800 euros, in Bulgaria 400 euros, and in Serbia 250 euros. “Greece is a very mature tourist country, a million people work in the sector, however even there it is difficult to find a workforce to work in the resorts because a lot of people have their own private business in tourism. "Serbia has only taken tourism more seriously, employing only 75 people, while Bulgaria is somewhere in the middle." said Neofytidis.
Kolenko believes that the exodus can only be fought with a healthy economy. " Whenever we talk about investments, we talk about new keys and real estate, never about investing in people and their development”Says Kolenko.
Lachezar Nikolaev Todorov said Bulgaria's labor problem began when the country joined the EU, as is the case with Croatia today. The profession has lobbied for practical classes to enter the educational programs of high schools and faculties, and today practical trainings are very popular. “Bulgaria has made a shift from a higher education system to a vocational education system in tourism. We don’t need so many managers but people with high school to serve breakfast to guests"Todorov explained, adding that Bulgaria has also turned to importing labor. His company last year hired 150 people from Ukraine and Moldova who saved its season.
Michael Heyward of the Glion Institute, which creates leaders in business, insists on the practical experience of students who have to go through all the stairs (making the bed, working in the kitchen, etc.). “Practical experience still gives the best results and it is crucial for professional career development. When my colleagues complain about problems with a lack of qualified people, I ask them what and how much they have invested in them. They tell me that it is not worth investing because they can go to another job in a couple of months. I answer that then it is certainly best not to invest anything in your worker so that they have an unskilled worker with them forever. If you get back half the people you invested in last season, you’ve done a great job because you’re starting next season with a much better positionHeyward explained.
Peter Ryrvik, since he comes from Sweden, spoke from a slightly different position because a lot of workers from SE Europe come to work in his country. His company uses sophisticated technology to introduce the mentioned benchmark studies and formulas into hotel companies. He referred to the problem of lack of middle management, believing that employers do not help potential managers enough to gain self-awareness. If they don’t understand themselves, they won’t understand others either.
Another panel called Hotel companies in the capital market he led Andrej Erjavec (InterCapital Securities), and they participated in it Frank Reul (Accor hotels / Orbis), Krešimir Huljev (Sun Concern), Milena Perkovic (Arena Hospitality Group) i Marko Čižmek (Valamar Riviera). In the introductory presentation of the topic, Erjavec stated the fact that no country in the world has as many tourist companies on the capital market as Croatia. In total, 23 of them are listed on the Zagreb Stock Exchange and they make up 10 percent of the total stock exchange capital. The Sunce Group joined last year, and Arena Hospitality Group embarked on an IPO.
Frank Reul believes that so many tourism companies on the stock market means that the sector is transparent and that it is good for more small investors to participate in the capital market because it reduces the risk and danger of a large company collapsing, which could be a blow to the economy and employment. . Krešimir Huljev explained that with the listing of the Sunce Group on the Zagreb Stock Exchange, the company received better conditions for access to capital and debt refinancing, and thus increased competitiveness and its own value in the long run.
Milena Perković explained that her company decided to enter Arenaturist, recognizing a good opportunity among several projects in SE Europe, and that all shareholders, including Park Plaza, jointly decided to keep the company on the Zagreb Stock Exchange. “We currently have 10 more potential projects on the table in SE Europe, but patience is key at the moment. Our shareholders know that they cannot expect high dividends in the short term, but they expect a long-term increase in the value of investments”Pointed out Perković.
Marko Čižmek explained in general the reasons for the growth in the value of shares of hotel companies in the last few years. “The entire industry has experienced rapid growth in investment in both hotel and private accommodation, tourism is of great importance in GDP, we finally have liquidity in the market, and investors' perception of Croatia has changed in the last five years. Today, all funds know the investment opportunities in Croatia”Pointed out Čižmek.
The third panel, moderated by Branko Bogunović (Hotel & Destination Consulting), discussed whether hotel companies should fight against the influx of private accommodation or 'flirt' with it. They spoke on the panel Bernardo Retana (Otium Residences), Pawel Rek (Amadeus), Ivan Milotić (Mystria.com), Jeroen A. Oskam (Hotelschool the Hague), Takuya Aoyama (Hyatt International).
Oskam's company conducted a survey of Airbnab's business, which showed that the number of overnight stays of tourists through that platform in some European markets increased by more than 100 percent, but he added that this growth slowed down last year. Last year, 258 thousand overnight stays were recorded in Zagreb through Airbnb, which is a 73 percent increase compared to 2016. Airbnb had a turnover of 13 million euros in Zagreb, which is small and means that a large part of that market ended up in the gray zone. , Oskam points out.
Bernardo Retana said his company in Spain works closely with private accommodation owners. It offers them capacity management, marketing and operations services. “We do a very similar job as hotel management does, only on a smaller scale. The business with private accommodation must be legally regulated, but also professional. Airbnb is just one of 60 similar sales channels and if people are smart they will work with them. ” Retana concluded.
Pawel Rek says that Airbnb's business increasingly resembles typical OTA agencies (online travel agencies) and that the platform is increasingly expanding its services. He announced that the latest version of the Airbnb platform will be released next week, which is said to be the biggest change for the company in the last 10 years. Ivan Milotić, co-owner of the portal that rents exclusively villas to guests, invited hoteliers to cooperate with the cluster of quality villas, by offering villas hotel services. Takuya Aoyama does not consider either platforms or private accommodation a real threat because according to him, they, unlike hotels, have nothing concrete in their ownership. But that’s why they’re a competition in marketing that sells the experience and hotel loyalty programs. In Florida, he says, Hyatt works with luxury private accommodation owners.
“Whenever we talk about investments, we talk about new keys and real estate, never about investing in people and their development”Gordana Kolenko, BHV consulting
The last panel called New products and their successful expansion gathered very interesting examples of new product concepts. Evgenia Jenkins from Netizen presented a concept from Russia, the so-called hostel, a hybrid of a hotel and a hostel, in which the facilities have the basic hotel infrastructure (reception, bar, lobby), but the rooms are adapted to all types of travelers. In addition to two hotels in Russia, it will soon open a 250-room facility in Budapest. Wolfgang Gold (easyHotel) explained the concept of his super-budget brand which offers guests very small rooms, only with a bed and a bathroom, and all other services are paid for. That this concept works is shown by easyHotel's plans to expand to the Far East, Africa, Iran and Nepal.
Jason Wischhoff (Dream Hotel Group) said his company is looking for facilities in public spaces that investors otherwise consider ‘dead capital’. As an example, he cited the recent opening of a hotel in Birmingham, which was once a church and then a disco.
This year's Adria Hotel Forum ended with a presentation of the best management schools for the tourism industry in Switzerland.