Hotelcon implemented, for free, in July 2020, the national integration system for hoteliers, new.hotelcon.travel, in partnership with OLYMPIA EUROPE. One of the goals of the system is to boost incoming for Romania. What stage has the system reached at present?
At present, the system has grown nicer than we would have expected. We also managed to get the attention of hoteliers and agencies on the reservation system. So far, we have directly integrated 475 hotels in Romania, a product from which the HOTELCON partner travel agencies directly benefit, by accessing the system, with real-time availability and rates.
So far, you have organized three online conferences with hoteliers and over 8 webinars with travel agencies to present the locations introduced. What are the conclusions of these meetings?
We had very good feedback from both partners: hoteliers and travel agencies. On the one hand, we managed to develop partnerships with channel managers such as PYN BOOKING, YIELD PLANET, SITEMINDER or D-EDGE, which allowed us to quickly integrate the hotels already connected through them. During the conferences, the hoteliers were able to better understand the experience of integration with HOTELCON through the perspective of the already integrated colleagues, which helped enormously. On the other hand, all our effort must be materialized in sales and this was possible thanks to webinars on locations in Romania, where we gathered every time over 100 agencies interested in the Romanian product and who could participate LIVE in presenting the locations introduced in the system. HOTELCON. What was very well received? The fact that the presentation was made directly by the beautiful and professional people who represent these locations. We learned directly from them how to sell these locations and what their strengths are.
What can you tell us about the project “Romania is my country and deserves to be promoted”, which you have been running since last year?
We are in full development. We already have 475 hotels in our portfolio and their number is increasing from one week to the next. We promote locations through webinars with travel agencies twice a month and we also want to make the product known to them through newsletters and our Facebook page. Next, in April, the ninth edition of the webinars on locations in Romania, and the hotels introduced in the last weeks really honor TOURISM. We focus a lot on the people behind the locations, as the man sanctifies the place and we like to bring them forward as promoters of Romanian tourism.
What problems do Romanian hoteliers currently face? What about travel agencies, in relation to hoteliers?
The problem of Romanian hoteliers is, from my point of view, the lack of technology and promotion. We are still facing reluctance towards technology, systems, and in relation to travel agencies there are still, unfortunately, a multitude of locations that do not see the benefit of working with them. Here we intervene, as wholesalers and we manage to negotiate competitive rates for travel agencies. As our sales are only B2B, we understand the importance of a beautiful relationship between hoteliers and travel agents, and together we will always be stronger. Working with HOTELCON, hoteliers will always have the security of reservations, timely payments and a continuous flow of sales, and on the other hand, travel agencies can rely on finding real-time availability and rates in the system and, more moreover, they will have tourists who will turn to them consistently.
How do you think Romania’s tourism promotion should be done at present? What would be the importance of the online environment?
I strongly believe that Romania’s tourism promotion should be slightly reoriented towards beautiful and professional people in this field. We need to focus more on digitization, to be more experience-oriented and less product-oriented, because Romania is beautiful if it is lived as an experience, and especially for incoming, this makes Romania memorable.
What changes did you notice in terms of destinations in the first 3 months of this year, compared to the previous year? What are the most sought after destinations in Romania? But from abroad?
For Romania, in the first 3 months of this year the stays in the mountains went very well, especially Prahova Valley, on 3-4 * locations, stays of 3-4 nights. Corporate tourism has also started in Bucharest, Iasi, Cluj as the main destinations in these three months. Apart from Romania, Maldives, Seychelles, Dubai remain the main destinations, followed by the Dominican Republic, Mexico and more recently bookings for Greece, Turkey and Bulgaria have begun.
How would you characterize the tourist year 2021? What are your expectations and fears?
Personally, I see a very prolific 2021 in terms of travel. People want to travel after so many restrictions and most have already started booking their holidays, especially now that all bookings are refundable up to a few days before check in, which allows tourists a security regarding their vacation. . It is recommended to book in advance so that you can benefit from a good rate and availability at the same time. As for fears, I am a very optimistic person by nature, I really could not say that I have any fear this year in terms of tourism. I look forward to lifting the restrictions one by one and being able to be FREE to travel. People are eager for new experiences, for memories created with loved ones and we, together with partner travel agencies and hoteliers, want to actively participate in fulfilling our wishes.
Hotelcon is a well-known international system with tradition. The pandemic has caused an even greater shift in the online environment, deepened by Hotelcon for a long time. What changes has the covid-19 pandemic brought to the online tourism environment?
For us, this whole period was a discovery, an accommodation to something that we initially found uncomfortable. It was a real adventure to start the webinars, to start the conferences, to start the project on hotel integrations “Romania is my country and it deserves to be promoted!”. Accustomed to human interaction, at first we were afraid to replace it with online interaction, but I admit that we tried to remain just as jovial and optimistic, and we passed this on to webinars and conferences. Thus, everything became attractive both for them and for us, and we even started to love this way of creating relationships. We tried to be as present as possible in the professional life of our partners and how other than through newsletters, Facebook, webinars, conferences and a lot of discussions, I could say at night, to determine what to do. We realized that only together we can overcome this period, and we gathered around us people that we presented as an example to follow whenever we had the opportunity, and everything online. It was and is a unique experience in life but from which we learned a lot and we had the opportunity to meet wonderful people that I can’t wait to meet LIVE.