Travelling is all about services, all about people. Hospitality also nests in its people. Hitherto, I have always liked the picture of people with somewhere to go and converted my personal viewpoint to the principal “raison d’être” beyond the conventional meaning of travel; the co-creation of sophisticated travel trails. It is this thought-to-travel, which currently acts as a catalyst from the delivery of lectures to research in practice, from class to the field, from seminars to hospitality reviews, from leading educational programmes to elaborating on ready-to-market cases. Sooner or later, many of these human interactions are subsequently transformed in long-term relationships.
This is how we co-create the 4Ps to travel together with Maria Mastronikola, Public Relations Coordinator at Aldemar Resorts [www.aldemar-resorts.gr]. Research proposals are now closely intertwined with travel experiences from Finland and Sweden, Italy and France, Spain, Switzerland and Norway. Lifting the veil of talents in the industry, the professional development of youth deserves our appraisal. And we cannot but fully support their vision, tacitly contribute to their success and welcome them aboard.
tvv: Born or become hospitable? | Γεννιέσαι ή γίνεσαι φιλόξενος;
M.M.: I would say, it depends on how we define the this term. We usually say in Greek that hospitable people show well-disposed attitude towards foreigners, expressing their honour to them. This is also part of my reality, even if the essence of hospitality goes in more depth. It is a way of life, part of culture and mindset. Be that as it may, you are not born hospitable, but you can become; as long as you meet someone on your way, who is ready to plant the inner seed of hospitality. And if it gets inside, then it is rooted.
I still remember when I was living in Finland; a warm smile had the power to change the world and frame of mind of Nordic people. In fact, we ended up with Sunday lunches hosted by Finns, who couldn’t help but keep laughing till they cried, while offering us some drinks at the bar. Then you realise that any stereotypes about hospitable and non-hospitable nations cannot be taken seriously.
tvv: The most hospitable encounter experienced. | Ό,τι πιο φιλόξενο έζησα.
M.M.: Every time I travel to Spain, friends of mine welcome me as a guest to their houses; it is as if I am part of their family – I have it all without paying it forward. Especially, some images of small villages remind me of Greece. You can find elderly people sitting outside amid the narrow streets, opening up their doors, treating yourself to lunch. It is not unusual for a tourist feeling lost to meet them and have some rest there.
tvv: An outline of Greek voyager’s current identity. | Η ταυτότητα του σύγχρονου Έλληνα ταξιδευτή.
M.M.: Let me share with you my personal case and you may find some common points to consider. Born in Greece, I am now 25 years old and I never lose the chance to travel abroad. Wandering around the streets in my backpack, I walk along the street, discover and make acquaintances with people of all ages. Wherever I find myself, I try to get adapted and view the life through the locals’ eyes. There is no better way of immersing myself into a foreign culture, as well as transmitting values of mine, than being part of these lovely discussions with locals, who are friends of mine at the same time.
tvv: The performance of Greece on the world travel map. | Η πορεία της Ελλάδας στον παγκόσμιο ταξιδιωτικό χάρτη.
M.M.: In Greece, we should learn to be realistic and set feasible aims. Learn how to cooperate in a workplace to get the position we deserve. Destination Greece has it all and this is also explained through the growth in demand. However, I cannot say that we are working based on a concrete strategy and specific time schedule. We keep waiting for the summer season to begin and experience low prices even while at the very peak. Greece shows and will continue to show very good results. There are plenty of high-level human resources, who innovate, create and give birth to new ideas. I feel that these are all facts, which complement our positive performance.
M.M.: It is true that I go beyond my comfort zone to live the experience and travel to meet others. It is wonderful to see their reactions, when people realise that Greeks are not exactly what they have been thinking of, due to recent negative publicity. Power and dynamism are present in every interaction – just priceless. The value of travellling lies in all the moments our face is shining outwardly. Interactions with locals… I strongly recommend them. This is how I managed to see places, travel guides do not include. By the way, if you ever travel to Spain, you should dare to go an a roadtrip in the countryside using the website of BlablaCar.
M.M.: Finland and, to be honest, Scandinavia in general, are the first to come to my mind. Where I lived, at least for a small time period, I realised my inner feelings and connection to Greece. I know now that, in order to change something, you first need to study the prototype and identify the best practices. The only thing missing then is to apply them. And change is coming.
M.M.: So many of them. I have the chance to meet people at every destination and keep things fresh in long-term relationships. Very regularly, we meet again at the same places or different destinations. Exchange views and experiences, talk about daily issues and see the world through each other’s eyes.
M.M.: When the hospitality sector opens the door for you, the door is widely open. It offers you the necessary field to grasp the chance and finally act. This industry perfectly fits me and leads me where I want to go. I’ve been working as PR coordinator in one of the most dynamic hotel chains in Greece, the group of Aldemar Resorts. The group does not focus on hotel operations, as most of us perceive it. My job includes a number of activities in addition to the support and promotion of the corporate image and the organisation’s human-centric philosophy. All of us who work at Aldemar, we are familiar with pioneering activities and synergy actions, spreading the message that hospitality is much more than what people usually have in mind. An indicative example is the interactive, multi-faceted project for the promotion of Greece, known as Sympossio Greek Gourmet Touring, an initiative of Alexandros Angelopoulos, CEO of Aldemar Resorts. Sympossio Greek Gourmet Touring won the first prize in Tourism Awards 2017 in the category “Linking tourism with other sectors of the Greek economy”; it’s been eight years of full synergy between the public and private sector, something we are not keen on in our country.
tvv: Milestones along my way. | Σταθμοί στη μέχρι σήμερα πορεία μου.
M.M.: First stop… Greece. I decided to work in Greece, stay here and do my best. Along my way, I had the opportunity to become part of Aldemar, where my qualities have been acknowledged; so, I took up very early a responsible position with great expectations. A critical milestone for me has always been my appointment next to someone with such a vision like Alexandros Angelopoulos. He is my mentor, or to put it another way, the leader, who gives me the freedom to act and, thus, makes my actions count. A way full of challenges ahead. On my way, I also discovered hidden aspects of mine.
Let the young people take reponsibilities and only positive results may be achieved; just because there is thirsty of knowledge. I feel honoured to constantly meet acknowledged professionals and highly-esteemed people, who assist me to broaden my horizons and formulate my point of view, as the time goes by.
tvv: Little dreams for trips to come. | Μικρά όνειρα για τα ταξίδια που έρχονται.
M.M.: I am not scheduling my trips any more. I am really fascinated with the ones that come all of a sudden… unexpected. I definitely like to discover the beauties of Greece. When we are talking about trips, we tend to forget that we live in one of the most beautiful countries in the world. It is not by coincidence that every time I am beginning the discovery of my home, I also start to highly estimate it and love it. In view of my frequent escapes, just a short break is enough to make me return “back to base”.