Κολέγιο CITY College
Main Campus, Thessaloniki, Greece
28 May 2021

Successful Online Conference on 'Τhe driving forces of Hospitality' by the Business Department

  • A successful online event endorsed by UNWTO and INSETE

  • Insightful keynote speeches by Ms Natalia Bayona, Director of Innovation, Education and Investments at World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Mr Panagiotis Almyrantis, Hotel General Manager Daios Cove Luxury Resort & Villas - Vice President European Hotel Managers Association and Prof Andreas Papatheodorou, Professor/Director at the University of the Aegean, Greece

  • Event speakers highlight the need for focus on innovation, education and technology to meet contemporary challenges in the industry of Tourism of Hospitality

The online conference "The driving forces of Hospitality: Technology, Innovation and Education" was successfully organised and executed by Dr Lenia Papadopoulou-Kelidou and Dr Giovanni Serafini of the Business Administration and Economics Department, CITY College, University of York Europe Campus, with the endorsement of UNWTO and INSETE. This open conference offered students, professionals, and educators the opportunity to get valuable insights from leading industry experts and academics in the field of tourism and hospitality in Greece.

First, Ms Natalia Bayona, Director of Innovation, Education and Investments at World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) opened the event with a video on the road towards a more conscious, innovative, and educated tourism sector. In her very insightful presentations, Ms Bayona emphasized that the challenges in the field of tourism have not changed with the pandemic. Rather, the pandemic accelerated the need to meet these challenges, which are: innovation, education, investments, value-added jobs, and sustainability. To address them successfully, there is the need for collaboration between governments, start-ups, academics, and investors.

Successful Online Conference on 'Τhe driving forces of Hospitality' by Business Administration & Economics Department, CITY College, University of York Europe Campus

Next, the event featured two distinct panels which focussed on the role of technology and innovation in hospitality, and the role of education in tourism, respectively.

The participants to the first panel were:

  • Mr Panagiotis Almyrantis, Hotel General Manager Daios Cove Luxury Resort & Villas - Vice President European Hotel Managers Association
  • Mr Dimitris Perrakis, Area Operations Manager at Atlantica Hotels & Resorts
  • Mr Kyros Asfis, Managing Director at Nea Mesa Hotel & Tourism Digital Marketing Agency
  • Mr Nassos Fanos, Independent Legal Services Professional - GDPR and Hotel Contract Specialist

Following Mr Almyrantis' initial presentation about a hotel's General Manager challenges and opportunities, the debate addressed the fact that many hoteliers are reluctant to invest in technological means claiming that they are too expensive or apply to large hotel operations. Instead, cost must not be feared if one considers the ROI (Return on Investment) and the ROAS (Return on Ad Spend). Thus, there is the need to approach things differently: demystification is the key here, technology can be applied correctly and effectively! However, as Mr Perrakis stressed, technology is just a tool and human resources are essential towards attaining the benefits technology can offer. With the right mentality, organisational culture, and training of the workforce, technology can be successfully applied in hotel operations of any size. Specifically, digital marketing can dramatically increase a hotel's sales and bookings. However, as Mr Asfis warned, there is the need to recognise the need to modernise the sales mix and focus on embracing the trend of digital marketing from content-based to content-driven and experiential. Lastly, Mr Fanos overviewed aspects related to GDPR compliance and the possibility for hoteliers to renegotiate abusive contract terms based on latest developments in the EU legal framework.

Ms Natalia Bayona, Director of Innovation, Education and Investments at World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)A successful online event organised by CITY College, University of York Europe Campus, with the endorsement of UNWTO and INSETE

Next, the conference addressed the role of education in tourism with the following panel:

  • Prof Andreas Papatheodorou, Professor/Director at the University of the Aegean, Greece
  • Mr Yiorgos Koutsokostas, Director of Learning and Development at INSETE
  • Ms Vania Kamtsiou, Senior Trainer & Founder at Welcome Global

The works of the panel were opened by Prof Papatheodorou who delivered a thorough presentation on the role of post-secondary education in tourism and hospitality. Among others, Prof Papatheodorou illustrated the skills cultivated in post-secondary education in Greece and discussed the extent to which graduates are ready to work in the field of hospitality. Next, Mr Koutsokostas examined what skills INSETE research identifies as been needed by hotel businesses nowadays and overviewed the various educational programs and initiatives INSETE offers to address skill gaps in the hotel industry. Then, Ms Kamtsiou's extensive experience as trainer was instrumental in examining challenges affecting the education of hotel professionals, their attitude towards training as well as graduate students joining the hotel industry. Namely, Ms Kamtsiou stressed that values and notions that are an integral part of hospitality and often define hospitality itself, such as respect, courtesy, smile, and good mood can be taught. However, their application by employees requires not only training, but also the inspiring behaviour of supervisors and managers who need to embody these values and notions of hospitality. To this end, reference was made to the criticality of internal training, which is a function that can be enacted in a formal way in hospitality concerns regardless of size. While the panel recognised that there is indeed the need to bridge education and the requirements of the hotel industry, as an example in this direction it was mentioned that at City College, University of York Europe Campus students are given the opportunity during their studies for a semester to work with a company that assigns them a specific task. In this way, the so-called 'Practicum' program aims to bridge theory with market practices by making students work closely with hospitality and tourism managers.

The conference concluded that the success of the hospitality and tourism system overall in these challenging times is in the hands of professionals recognising that responsibility is part of their job, as reminded by Ms Bayona. Within this perspective, education plays a cardinal role by urging professionals to reassess how they relate with knowledge. In fact, the process of knowledge goes through the stages of studying, learning, relearning, and unlearning to be able to learn the new.

Watch the event:

 

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