Saturday, December 18, 2010

Happy 2011 for all of us, especially for those who with very little can achieve a lot !!

2010 has been a hard year for many people and businesses. Many of the people that would normally would get this message are without a job. Many work under very tough financial conditions, others are struggling to keep their business above the “sea level”. 

Avantless this year will not send any paper post cards and will give no giveaways and instead we have created a team in KIVA, a team where we suggest you join. KIVA is an online platform for Micro – Credits. We do not ask you to donate anything, we ask you to lend 25 Dollars to small entrepreneurs in countries that are under development. 25 dollars for a businesswoman in Guatemala or in Palestine have the value of 10,000 Dollars in a develpped country. 

We have been working with KIVA for 3 years now and all the money we have lent out has been paid back 100%.

In Avantless we believe that:
• People are by nature generous, and will help others if given the opportunity to do so in a transparent, accountable way. 
• The poor are highly motivated and can be very successful when given an opportunity and everybody deserves an opportunity. 
• By connecting people we can create relationships beyond financial transactions, and build a global community expressing support and encouragement of one another. 
• The online world facilitates those connections and creates REAL links with people despite their race, color, financial situation or other barrier the offline world puts. 

Kiva promotes: 
• Dignity: Kiva encourages partnership relationships as opposed to benefactor relationships. Partnership relationships are characterized by mutual dignity and respect and Avantless supports actively KIVA’s work by suggesting you to support this initiative. 
• Accountability: Loans encourage more accountability than donations where repayment is not expected. It is a give and take relationship therefore both sides get a greater satisfaction. 
• Transparency: The Kiva website is an open platform where communication can flow freely around the world. In Avantless we give huge importance in transparency and we urge you to join us. 

Join us on Avantless Team in KIVA and lets help those who need so little to make so much. 

Happy Holidays to all. 


Petros Mavros

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Cyprus Airways fails with Russian Market

According to valid unofficial information, Cyprus Airways failed to agree with tour operators from St. Petersburg in Russia to take over the flights of the bankrupt Eurocypria airlines.

Cyprus airways and the Russian stakeholders did not agree on the prices the airline asked and therefore the negotiations have failed. 

This is huge hit towards the bleeding Cypriot Tourism industry since it lets Cyprus tourism without many options to re-conquer the Russian market. Here is worth mentioning that the Cypriot state managed to simplify the visa issue for Russian visitors and only this action gave an increase of 50% on tourism arrivals from the Russian Federation. 

It seems that Cyprus Airways cannot cope with the flights undertaken by the already bankrupt Eurocypria and the promises of the Cypriot administration cannot be fulfilled at least in the short term. This turnout leaves the steam engine of the Cypriot economy without fuel. The Cypriot tourism stakeholders have just had the fist signs of the incompetiveness of their state which will cost to the country much more than tourism arrivals.

Cyprus air transport is going through a very tough period due to corruption and wrong management. The stubbornness of the Cypriot government to hide problems for many years, the boards of directors of the two airlines need to go under investigation now and clarify who is responsible for this very serious economic disaster the country is about to face. At the same time brave decisions are needed to privatise the air transport sector and give back to the market the good name and good reputation in such a way that the tour operators and travels regain trust to Cyprus as a destination.

Friday, November 5, 2010 and Aeolos Travel in Cyprus get a good understanding of Social Media in Travel

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Some time last week the phone rang and the Marketing Manager of the leading travel portal in Cyprus was on the other side of the cable. Andreas Lazarou from Aeolos travel, owners of has asked me if I could give a seminar to the team of Aeolos and Bookcyprus in Protaras over the weekend.

I have gladly accepted the challenge, but I could never think that that weekend would have been such an experience. Talking to people involved in online travel sales was for me a fantastic experience. I am a trainer for the last 10 years now and dealing with online travel training for almost 3 years. The team was simply fantastic. The mixture of “onliners” and “offliners” in the room gave the perfect mixture to achieve attention and challenging questions that I enjoyed very much.

I really hope that the audience has enjoyed the seminar as much as I did. Of course the scenery was perfect. The “extreme” hospitality of Sotos Stephanou, Managing Director of Aeolos, and the relaxed luxury of Cabo Bay Hotel came to close the circle of a perfect professional weekend.

Special thanks to Ian Hay for sharing the picture above from his Blackberry on his TwitPic.

Thank you Aeolos and

Monday, November 1, 2010

How can Social Media make money for the travel industry?

etourismforum panel-speakersThe debate about the ROI in implementing Social Media in a business has been going on for quite a long time now. While experts and not so experts struggle to prove that Social Media can make money the different industry leaders do not seen so convinced.

I have been intensively working in the world of Social Media in the travel industry for the last two years and I can assure you that it is a very hard job to prove the profitability of Social Media. The reason is not because is not possible to increase sales “going social” but due to the traditional business practices that have never included Customer Service (offline) to the traditional sales funnel.

Travel stakeholders prefer to go ahead pay per click campaigns and SEO that bring them direct traffic to their sites instead of implementing a time consuming strategy that will eventually give them online reputation, especially when it comes to intermediates that get their money from mass production of room nights and air tickets. Visiblity in he Social Media sphere is indirect and subtle, peer to peer means lost of control and this creates panic to the boards of directors of the big tour operators.

Now, six years after the internet went social tour operators realise that they need to change, they need to change fast and catch their customers they need to focus on customer care before, during and after the sale. Simple email follow-up and reviews are not enough anymore. The end user wants to be pampered and bombarded; the end user demands specialization and destination insights. Openness and authenticity are the most valued content components from the end user, therefore email shots and maniac Twitting is controversial.

The only valid path for the travel industry is to recreate its brand strategy around social media and its components, aggregate users’ content and via conversations and engagement convert them into advocates. This can only be achieved with professional help and domination of insights.

If we now look at destinations like Cyprus, where tourism is the steam engine of the economy and where the global financial crisis has crashed travel traffic dramatically, the local travel stakeholders need to make the move quickly. The “fear” of digital is present but I can assure you that “risky” travel business men and women are getting professional coaching and they are convinced that they can achieve sales growth even now in the most abyss depths of crisis.

E-Tourism Forum Cyprus 2009 - The end of Control Part III

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Experience Almyra Hotel in Pafos

Almyra Beach The experience of Almyra hotel in Pafos has been one of those experiences your wife will always remember. The comfort of its rooms, the tranquility of its gardens and its location give you the reason to visit Pafos this winter 2010.

The AlmyraSpa comes to complete the trip, "homenage" to the body and soul ended with a walk by the beach.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Manos Hadjidakis, emotions full of music

There are very few people in the world that are able to make a nation proud. Manos Hadjidakis, the composer of emotions, love and heard is the modern Socrates. If Socrates is the Philosopher who turned Philosophy to what is today, Manos Hadjidakis is the man who with his music made us all believe that we have lots to offer to the civilisation still.

His songs are full of humbleness, his melodies are full of heard, his tunes are emotions expressed in a unique universal manner.

He was born in Xanthi the 23rd of October 1925 and died in Athens at the age of 68. The news of his death found me in Switzerland reading a Greek newspaper in my room listening to Melina Mercouri, singing “Mesogeios” from an old cassette recorded from a radio station.
Then I thought that a great man has passed way, today I realise that great men like him never pass away.

En Mediteranee – Mesosogios
Singing George Moustaki and Giorgos Dalaras, Lyrics Dimitris Christodoulou,

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Cyprus Tourism Organisation Board of Directors boycotts Pafos Opera.

The board of directors of the Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO) took a decision to boycott the only international Opera festival of Cyprus.

The CTO has agreed to be the main sponsor for the Opera in Pafos for the last 11 years. The last Opera Festival that took place last September 2010 it was probably the most successful cultural event ever for the town of Paphos but also for Cyprus as country.  Now the CTO board of directors denies to pay the 138,000 euros sponsorship for this last festival.

The Cyprus Tourism Organisation is governed by 9 members assigned by the political parties to run the policies of tourism in Cyprus. The last board of directors has been placed in June 2009 and thank god their term ends in June 2011.
The decision of the board not to pay the 138,000 euros as main sponsorship to the Pafos Aphrodite Festival raised anger and disappointment among the Town Halls and the citizens that form the Pafos Aphrodite Festival initiative. Once again the CTO board acted as if they were the “maharajas” of Cyprus Tourism and Culture. Their excuse was that on the accounts presented to them by the Organising Committee it was included the expenses for the seats. The Opera takes place in front of the  Pafos Castle and in order to perform it is necessary to transform the square into an amphitheatre of approximately 2500 seats. For this reason the Pafos Aphrodite Festival needs to rent the seats.

The CTO board of directors using their brain came to the conclusion that the expenses for renting the seats should not be included in the expenses for organising the festival. 8 out of 9 members (Excluding the Pafian, Cleopatra Mylona ) voted no to the payment of the sponsorship. The board before coming to this wise decision has consulted the Office of the Commissioner for State Aid Control ( who clearly stated that there is no problem to include the expense for the seats in the aid. This means that the 138,000 promised should be paid to Pafos Aphrodite Festival.

The CTO board of Directors has basically omitted the advice given by the commissioner and in “democratic” and “fair” manner they left Pafos basically without the Opera Festival. The sponsorship of the CTO was the most important income for the festival. 

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Cyprus Tourism Vs Spanish Tourism

Today, the Spanish ministry of Tourism has announced that the summer season closed with an increase of 4% in foreign tourism arrivals and overnights. Tourism represents 10% of the Spanish GDP and the news presenter of TVE named it “OUR TOURISM”.

Now, here in the all year round island, where love is in the air, the Minister announced an increase of 0,7% from last year, (only on arrivals, no data available for overnights) the CyBC whenever they mention Tourism they never say OUR, they do not feel it as our so they never say it (I guess this is the reason).

Why Spain had a 4% increase (on 47 million arrivals) and Cyprus only 0,7% ? My opinion is because:
1. In Spain regional tourism boards work hard and compete with each other in a natural and healthy way. In Cyprus regionalism is inexistent and when it comes to competition is everything else but healthy. All regions want a Marina and Golf courts… so stupid.

2. In Spain the hoteliers are united against outside threats like the abuse of Thomas Cook, in Cyprus Thomas Cook abuse did not even hit the media and this makes me think that Thomas Cook “bought hotelier silence”. By the way, I am wondering how much money the semi-god Thomas Cook took from the Cyprus Tourism Organisation as “advertisement fees” this year? But this is going to be our next subject…

3. In Spain tourism Marketing is innovative, it shows the way. In Cyprus Tourism Marketing has expired long ago and lost its way.

4. In Spain “the product” has given its protagonism to the end user. In Cyprus the actors got old and forgot their lines. The end user is still waiting to get a comfortable seat.

5. In Spain heritage is the most important, in Cyprus we hide our heritage behind cheap politics and bad, really bad street signage.

6. In Spain tradition has a trade mark, in Cyprus we have betrayed our tradition.

7. In Spain authenticity is natural, In Cyprus authenticity is marginal.

8. In Spain Tourism has a conscious , In Cyprus Tourism has fallen unconscious.

9. In Spain collaboration is real, In Cyprus corruption is real.

10. In Spain they learn from mistakes, In Cyprus we do no mistakes.

I could list 100 reasons but I do not want to make you more tired.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Cyprus tourism is cheap, objective achieved.

Triumph of Cyprus Tourism, the Minister of Trade industry and Tourism announces an increase of 0.7%. In real numbers Cyprus has received 9617 (nine thousand six hundred and seventeen) more visitors for the same period of January until August, last year (2009).

Cyprus tourism has suffered a lot from the economic crisis basically due to the extraordinary well established tourism policy that includes the destruction of all authentic Cypriot Hospitality elements, the abandonment of Cyprus Marketing to third parties like tour operators and smoke-promise givers who understand how states work and how can they absorb funds, and due to the struggle of the stakeholders to keep the prices below Turkey and Egypt in order to gain market share. At the end Cyprus managed to have an increase of 9617 passengers, the effort was worth it, we are Cheap, we are the cheapest we are the best and on top we achieved a whole 0.7% increase in times of crisis. Well done.

I would like to congratulate everyone for this great achievement, I would like to give my sincere congratulations to those who managed to have the cheapest fish and chips, the cheapest milkshakes, the cheapest beer, the cheapest cocktails. I would like to thank all those who contributed in getting the reputation of a cheap destination. I am sorry I cannot put down the names of all I would like to thank because then it will take pages and probably someone will recognise his or her name and take me to court for libel. Anyway they all know who they are, we know who they are.

Well done guys…. What is next ? I cannot wait to listen to your new plans, I hope they at least as good as the old ones.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

In memory of Peter Schlatter

Today, 2nd of September 2010, I have received the update in my email inbox from the Les Roches Alumni website. As always I wend through the email and at bottom of it I saw the announcement that Mr. Peter Schlatter has passed away last June the 6th at the age of 62.

In 1992 when I first arrived in Bluche after serving my military service in Cyprus and I had the first contact with the school and its Principal, I felt that my military service did not end. I was neither surprised nor disappoint to be honest, I thought that I could make it through since discipline was nothing too hard for me to follow.

The presence of Peter Schlatter every morning, smoking his pipe, at the school lobby to see all students climbing up the stairs for the classes made me feel that all the money my family will spend will worth it. The feeling of control and safety was there.

Three years afterwards I found myself working with Mr. Schlatter as stagier and later as personnel of the school. I am very graefull to Mr. and Mrs. Schlatter for the enormous trust they deposited on me during my work in Les Roches and all the support I have had from them.

It was then when I discovered the other Mr. Schlatter, caring, very methodical, very organised, friendly and with a great sense of humour. Peter Schlatter has always accepted me in his office with seriousness and professionalism, with a good word and always with care.

I consider Mr. Schlatter as one of my mentors and I would like to express my most sincere condolences to his close family and all the Les Rosches – Bluche people all over the world. As we say in Greek “Let the soil that will cover him be light”.

Thank you Peter Schlatter for being there for us.

Petros Mavros (winter 94)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Xynisteri – The Wine surprise of Cyprus

tsangarides-wineriesToday I had a short 20 minute drive to Lemona to visit my good friend Angelos Tsaggarides in his winery. The heat was unbearable in Pafos by the sea so I thought I drive to the hills and by the way see how the harvesting goes.

When I arrived at the winery Angelos as usual opened a bottle of wine to “celebrate” the occasion. This time he opened a bottle of white wine, last years white he said, but still very alive. It was the first time I was going to try his white wine. A crystal clear white wine that has almost no colour, at the beginning I though , oh well , another tasteless white, (being myself a lover of red), but I must admit I was very surprised of its fruity smell and even more surprised of its smoothness. Light, refreshing and full of “appleness” Tsagarides Xynistery was a very pleasant surprise.

Xynistery is the most local variety of Cyprus “cepage”, cultivated in Cyprus since ever Xynisteri is a component of Commandaria. Alone always had a bad reputiuon as a very acid variety, not stable and a headaque generator. Its juice was used also to produce sweets such as Palouze and Sioutziouko, Xynistery earned its but reputation for its acididy, Xino in Greek means acid.

But today the young winemakers like Angleos understood the value of this local variety and took measures to create a wonderful white wine that we can be proud of.

This is defiantly the most live example of turning around a bad reputation. Xynistery white wines are now taken seriously in mouths of wine experts such as Dr. George Soleas who lives and works in Toronto Canada and during the wine tasting just before the opening of the wine festival in Lemesos in Cyprus he has literally said that Xynisteri is an example to follow for other local varieties worldwide.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

50 Years of Cyprus Tourism - 50 Years of Republic of Cyprus

Heritage Travel in CyprusThe 16th of August 1960, Archbishop Makarios III representing the Greek Cypriots and Dr. Fazil Küçük representing the Turkish Cypriots have signed the independence of Cyprus from the British Empire.
Since then the history of Cyprus has not been very easy.  Nevertheless, tourism has grown spectacularly basically due to private initiative of the then young tourism entrepreneurs.

People like Louis Loizou, founder of Louis Group, Yiannis Skyrianides, founder of the Cyprus Hotel Association, Renos Solomides, hotelier and ex Minister of Commerce and Industry, Katsellis Family, owners of the emblematic Dome Hotel in Kyrenia, the poet Costas Montis, the first president of the Tourism Counsil, which has later been transformed to the Cyprus Tourism Organisation, and many, many  others who believed that tourism could be the major source of income for the Cypriot economy.

50 years after our Independence, we look into the future with perplexity,  questioning and  wondering if the present model of tourism development in Cyprus is a model that assures the future of tourism and the future of a healthy economy.

The global and deep financial crisis has made us understand that we cannot continue with practises of the last half century.  The tourism pioneers of the 60’s have dared to change the agricultural economy of Cyprus into a service economy.  Today is our duty to move towards Experiential Economy and accompany our visitors to their travel experience before even they land and after they arrive back home.
The use of new technologies, investment in training, collaborative projects, local management of tourism and return to our traditions, preservation and regeneration of our natural environment, sustainable resource management and last but not least extreme customer awareness and care should be the ingredients of the new strategic and action plan of the Cyprus Tourism in general.

The booklet below is a document created by the Cyprus Hotel Association and is document that shows the history of Tourism in Cyprus even before the independence.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Cyprus Airways president resigns - Kikis Lazarides leaves Cyprus Airways

The President of the board of directors of Cyprus Airways, Kikis Lazarides,  presented his resignation to the President of the Republic of Cyprus, Mr. Demetris Christofias. Mr Lazarides was assigned to this position by the recently deceased last president Tasos Papadopoulos back in 2004.

Everything seems to point that Lazarides has found hard core reactions in both inside and outside the company,  while he wanted to put order in the turbulent economics and politics of the state owned airline.
The scandal of Eurocypria, the ex sister airline of Cyprus airways, that broke a few weeks ago, when suddenly the Cypriot citizen has realized that politicians of many political colours,  have cheated the parliament  to release 35 million Euros to save Eurocyopria last winter  from guaranteed bankruptcy , is only the tip of the iceberg. The General Accountant of the Republic of Cyprus in his report about Cyprus air transport points very clearly the it is unviable and unsustainable  to have 2 state owned airlines in Cyprus and therefore an immediate merge of the two airlines was the first step to survival.

Lazarides, former Banker , president of Laiki Polular Bank, now Marfin Laiki Bank, has found himself in the centre of the hurricane and today he decided to resign. He leaves behind him an uncertain future for the Airline that lacks of flexibility and has very little character of a modern company.  Cyprus Airlines is used to monopolistic routes and has very little view of how the world of air transport has changed the last years. Closed in the walls themselves have built, the airline suffers from the CCSS (Cypriot Civil Servant Syndrome). A virus that lately has been without any vaccination in Cyprus.

The state is the sole owner of both airlines in Cyprus, this creates the perfect scenery for corruption and private political agendas to flourish.  This year is a very tough year for the fragile Cypriot Tourism industry, crisis of this type should be avoided or given a quick and very effective solution. Maybe is time for the Cypriot politicians and micro-politicians to stay out of the management of vital sectors such as air transport.
Cyprus is a profitable destination especially if someone looks the geographic location of the island, with two new airports (run privately)  that are a jewel of out tourism crown, a new generation airline should be born from this.

Lazarides left by himself, what are the others going to do? Would they give up too? My guess is that there is more than one who likes Lazarides chair, people who like political positions but they know they will never be elected not even for the Backgammon club of their village.

My opinion that there is not enough meat for all the vultures on this corpse, but vultures at the end fight amongst themselves for the last piece of skin.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Cyprus Space Tourism: Cyprus as a tourist attraction also for Space Tourists of the present and the future

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Nasa astronaut Soichi Noguchi and his colleagues are giving us for the last months wonderful images of the Earth. Today he was generous with Cyprus. He took a picture of our island and published it on his twitter.

This post is to thank @Astro_Soichi for his courtesy and invite him to join us in Cyprus this Summer 2010  when he lands back to Earth.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Cyprus Tourism pampering local business, 132 Cyprus Hotels offer special rates for locals

For the past few years the local market gained more weight for the Cypriot hotel occupancies. Cypriots travel abroad a lot but also stay in Cyprus a lot. According to Cyprus tourism Organisation the local market produces approximately 1,500,000 (one and a half million) bed nights to the Cypriot hotels and accommodation establishments. This converts Cypriots to the 2nd biggest tourism market for Cyprus after the UK market.

It was once when Cypriots were an insignificant market share, those times are gone, today, the 1.5 million overnights, means a lot to the local hotel industry and especially this year the Cyprus Hotel Association gave a bigger emphasis to the packages offered from its members to the local consumer.

This initiative is supported by the Cyprus Tourism Organisation, the Bank of Cyprus (American Express Credit Cards).

The offer includes 132 hotels in all the tourist areas of Cyprus and you can see the entire offer here below.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

How could Cyprus Hotels could take advantage of OTAs ( Online Travel Agents)

Viewing today the video on VTV Channel with the interview of Dr. Chris Anderson from Cornell University , I have realised that many of the indications he mentions could be applied to Cyprus as well.

Of course we need to have in mind that the so called dot com brands in Cyprus do not really exist. Cyprus tourism industry is formed mainly by independent hotels that do not belong to international chains. Now this happens it will be our subject for an other post on this blog.

Coming back to Dr. Anderson’s recommendations. Cyprus tourism has been traditionally depending on Travel Agents and Tour Operators. The online revolution is still making its way to Cyprus mainly because of the denial of the Cypriot tourism professional to change his/her marketing habits. In this path of unchanged change the recommendations of Dr. Anderson could fit and be more understandable for the average Cypriot hotelier.

The problem here is that the local travel agent, incoming agent is still wondering what to do online, he is still using old booking engines with no flexibility and without any benefit to the end user. We will not talk about the complete absence of any type of Social Media strategy. So first of all the local incoming agents need to understand how web and especially web 2.0 works and how an offline Travel Agent can become a successful online agent. Here is essential the participation of all the actors like Tour guides, theme park owners, excursion makers and yes the strong support from the local tourist authorities who can bring in tangible travel content.

Anyway pay attention to the video and make your own conclusions and if you are a Cypriot travel agent or a Cypriot hotelier I am sure you will find things here that are applicable to your daily work. In Cyprus we have at this moment a huge gap that is filled by the big players from the UK. So think and act.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Travel Freely !!! Greek and Cyprus tourism at your reach.

Whatever TV station you have on, whatever radio station you listen, whatever digital or paper newspaper you read, the news are the same. “Greece is in deep financial problems and this is due to the Greeks, the Greek way of thinking, the Greeks lied to the EU and so on and so forth”.

I am sorry Ladies and Gentlemen, but not all the Greeks are the same. Once, with a friend from Turkey at the World Travel Market in London some years ago, we were talking about how similar are Greeks and Turks. Similar when it comes to culture, food, family links etc. Ahmed though, mentioned an important difference that stayed in my memory. “The difference between Greeks and Turks is that we, Turks are have 2,000 very intelligent people who govern our country but you Greeks have 2000 idiots who govern your country despite that the percentage of university graduates is much higher in Greece than in Turkey and this should be a sign of a more educated and cultivated civic society, but still you elect incapable people to run your country” .

Well my friend Ahmed you were very right, those 2000 idiots are now the ones mainly responsible for the bankruptcy of Greece. For those idiots we cannot blame the rest of the people in Greece. Greeks now understood that the only way to save their country and consequently save the Euro and the Euro-zone is by being more productive. Despite that I am not a Greek citizen, but a Cypriot, I must admit that this comment of my good friend Ahmed made me see the Cypriot political reality from a more pragmatic point of view and since I decided not to vote anyone in any elections.
Greece and Cyprus are two connected economies and even more connected societies, and what happens today in Greece may never happen in Cyprus but it is shaking our economy here as well, and the shake is high on the Richter scale.

Greece and Cyprus have an extraordinary natural resource; Tourism. Greece and Cyprus are maybe not unique when it comes to mass tourism and travel, but defiantly both countries have many things to enjoy, discover and feel. Greek and Cypriot people are very hospitable and the Tourism Professionals in both countries have a great experience in taking care of their customers. The financial tsunami that is today swiping the Greek Economy but mostly the Greek society should stop immediately in order not to swipe the Cypriot economy and society and probably put in great danger the social and financial stability of many Europeans outside the borders of Greece and Cyprus.

In my opinion, the only feasible and “non-violent” way to stop this tsunami is if the Greek and Cypriot people have genuine and honest support from the rest of Europeans, especially from the inhabitants of countries with great recovery capacity such as Germany, UK, Holland etc.
Therefore I would kindly ask you all who read this article to consider Greece and Cyprus as your next vacation destination. I would even suggest you to combine the two places. Live your Myth in Greece and Feel Cyprus this Summer, like this you are contributing to the European Economy and European Social Stability.

Last but not least, I promise to all my fellow European citizens that I will do my best to keep the idiots out of power. By the way I would like to clarify that the word idiot is used in this article in the context the Athenians used to use it during the golden era of Athenian Democracy (

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Not paralyzed by the Icelandic volcano

Visit Cyprus this summer will be the choice of many Europeans. Amongst them the Spanish or other nationalities that leave in Spain. The campaigns in the Spanish football pitches and especially at those games that will define the Spanish Liga have managed to create awareness about the Cyprus.

If you live in Spain and you would like to discover the other end of the Mediterranean it is highly recommendable to use as a stopover, Athens,  the Greek capital since the alternative of Turkish airlines does not take you to the free part of the island. If you travel from Spain to Cyprus make sure you land in Larnaca (LCA) or Paphos (PFO) airports, witch are the two legal airports of the country and be sure the route is not paralyzed by the Icelandic volcano.

Visit Cyprus this summer - Make your first Tackle to Mass Tourism from cyprustourism on Vimeo.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Times have changed for Cyprus Tourism

The poll for Cyprus Tourism has closed. My opinion was different but it seems that there are some optimists. The result is absolutely clear,  61% of the votes remark that current Tourism strategy is not being well graded, overwhelmingly   I would say 5 to 1. Feel free to comment, the results are here below.  The survey was conducted online with IP filter.

Feel free to comment 

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

How hotels can get out of The Crisis!!

Can hotels get out of the crisis? Well this crisis is not only about hotels its about all tourism. The reality is very hard for those millions of unemployed people of tourism worldwide. Well we cannot get out of crisis if we continue firing 50% of our human assets; we cannot get out of crisis if we keep reducing the only recourse that makes our industry o be personal.

If hotels do not stop firing people then they will end being cheaper to stay than home. The problem will be when hotels will want to raise prices again after in 2011 or 2012 or 2015 when the crisis will be over. Hoteliers will beg repeat customers not to come back, the pressure of guests will be so big that many hoteliers will change work. Come on lets get a bit serious now.
If you are a serious hotelier then what you should do is.

1. Do not fire 50% of your staff so you make sure your quality is still high and your services are up to your guest’s standards.
2. Do not lower your prices. Do not touch your room rate. Please do not panic. This crisis is an earthquake, and during an earthquake the ones who survive are the ones who know how to react with calm.
3. Give more value to your guests’ money by offering more services for less money.
  a. Include the bloody wifi internet connection to your rate.
  b. Make breakfast hours longer.
  c. Offer 3 types of eggs on the breakfast buffet.
  d. Change that plastic taste orange colour liquid with real orange juice.
  e. Offer room service WITHOUT extra charge.
  f. Make your restaurant food unique so as your guest will think of you first when going out for dinner .
  g. Let your guest invite a friend or 2 for breakfast without charging extra.

There are so many things you can do before putting your “pants” down but actually the first thing you have to is to come closer to your customer. Turn your customer to your guest and this today is possible if you are able to use the vast social media sphere in a non abusive and guest friendly manner. Get in your guest’s shoes and see your hotel from through your guest’s eyes online. Use the Online Marketing tools wisely to market your hotel.

Disintermediate your sales process as much as you can and use those agents and tour operators that transfer price and value benefits directly to the end user.

Use your imagination and creativity and your hotel will come out of crisis stronger and you will be wiser at the end.

Hey do not take me wrong. Many of the ideas above are not only mine. The President of the International Hotel and Restaurant Association Dr. Ghassan AIDI shares many of those ideas as well, he shared them with Cypriot Hoteliers at the Cyprus Hotel Association 2010 Congress.

Monday, February 22, 2010

How does the Aegean–Olympic merge affect Cyprus Tourism?

Aegean Airlines and Olympic Air are very close signing an agreement that will create the new Greek airline. The 2 companies will very soon announce their merge and the new airline will be called Olympic. The new company will have a structure where the 2 strong men of the two companies will have equal shares, Vasilakis  from Aegean and Vgenopoulos from  Olympic Air (Marfin Group) and the rest of the shares will be in the Greek stock market. The new entity will be owned by Aegean Air by 75% and 25% by Marfin . (News published on Inbusiness news online in Greek)

Now the question drawn from this piece of news is.  When are they going to buy Cyprus Airways,  Eurocypria of both? The bad financial situation of the two Cypriot Airlines should worry the Cypriot Tax payer. The airlines that lately had a media fight about who should close down, are completely sustained by state investment. The state of Cyprus owns 100% of the regular airline (Cyprus Airways) and 100% of the charter airline, Eurocypria. The minister of finance of Cyprus has played his last card for Eurocypria last week at the parliament where he obtained 35 million Euros to inject them in the empty cash drawers of Eurocypria.
Most economists of Cyprus believe that the 2 airlines are not sustainable due to their very high operational costs produced basically by the “heritage” of civil servant employees and the lack of modernization of internal procedures in order to have more flexibility and productivity.

Now with the airports of Cyprus being managed by the private sector the 2 airlines do not have the favours they user to have before (especially before 2004) something that finds them “exposed” to the open global market. If the new Greek airline giant wants to keep the piece of the pie in the Cypriot routes then the option of buying the 2 companies is not a bad one.

We will be waiting to see what the next move is. Vgenopoulos has the expertise in buying Cypriot companies and I am sure he knows the potential of Cyprus as a hub in the eastern Mediterranean.

From this blog I predict that next year the same day we will be talking  about one global Greek and Cypriot air carrier and is then when we will be able to fly to Cyprus with better connections and definitely better prices.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Online Marketing for Tourism: Social Media can Drive Sales to Hotels and Airlines

This post is inspired on the Mashable post about Social Media and how it can drive revenue to airlines and hotels. Therefore I would like to thank Shashank Nigam, its writer for the inspiration.

As Shashank very accurately says Social media is no longer the “new” thing, especially for airlines. Looking at JetBlue or Lufthansa we understand that social Media is part of their daily routine. However, most airlines are still wondering or even worse are still doubting that Social Media can drive them Euros in their accounts. In resort areas, and especially in the Mediterranean, things are even “harder” since the big tour operators are dominating the market and the average airline manager is Social Media illiterate and this because of working habits and lack of training. Cyprus Airways, Olympic Air, Egypt Air etc are companies with long tradition in bureaucracy and difficulty in change of Business Culture. Maybe the exception is Turkish Airlines who has lately been very Social Media oriented and I am sure their seeing the benefit.

If Dell can makes $6.5 million from Twitter, why can’t airlines and hotels? The 5 tips given from Mashable are very helpful. Here I twisted them a bit and added ideas for resort hotels and local airlines.

1. Clear Distressed and Early Booking Inventory of rooms and seats on Twitter

Like Mashable points out, running an airline or hotel is much like running a cinema, with more operational complexity though. It costs about the same to operate the plane or the hotel no matter how many seats or rooms are filled up. Any unsold seats or rooms at the last minute are called “distressed inventory.” Combine the last-minute nature of such seat/room availability with the real-time features of tools like Twitter and you create the opportunity for airlines and hotels to generate cold, hard cash. Any seat sold there before departure is less money lost.

Resort hotels and Airlines should be able to create a new tariff category. Twitter tariff that would be valid only for twitter followers and it should have an expiring hour. This will avoid conflicts with travel agents and tour operators. Of course, you have to set clear expectations with your followers that the account will only be sending out deals, and is not a customer service vehicle.

Ultimately, using real-time platforms like Twitter helps the airline circulate cheap very last minute or early booking fares and get people to fly more often, or even for the first time. Hotels could similarly post unfilled room inventory on Twitter. Those rooms they are trapped after the cut off dates of the Tour Operators. Ultimately this could fill up the planes and hotels and drives more revenue. Especially in the two edges of the steam, Early booking and Last minute.

2. Integrate Social Media Into the Booking Engine

Hotels should use social Media driven booking engines such as Sybelio version 5.0. This platform creates unique URLs for special offers in 14 Languages and is capable to post them on the most popular Social Media Platforms such as Twitter and Facebook (fun page and profile). Highly recommendable to test drive the tool, you will love it.

Airlines should be able to connect with Social Media seamless and the sign up forms could be the start point. Instead of the check box, “Would you like to receive emails about our offers” they could have “ would like to share with us your travel experience on social Media?”.

3. Integrate with Social Media Travel Applications with the frequent flier and loyalty programmes.

For example, an airline could integrate TripIt data with their frequent flier database to create a list of their loyal customers and the destinations those customers are planning to visit. The airline could then reach out to them with a custom-tailored travel deal.

A hotel could do something similar, taking into account the location the traveller, and in case the company does not have a hotel in the area suggest a third party one. This will increase trust, loyalty and industry solidarity.

4. Create Private Online Communities

This a great tip for independent hotels that have from season to season repeaters. Small and medium size stand alone hotels could forget the complex loyalty schemes. A small, simple and user friendly online community, will do a great job. Ning is a good start, and it has all the above characteristics. It can be as private as you like and it has the capacity to create groups. People would feel special and defiantly it will increase return business.

5. Remember: Social Media is About Relationships

It’s important to remember that social media is always about relationships first.
A good example of relationship building is Lufthansa’s MySkyStatus, which allows you to share your location with your Facebook and Twitter friends during the flight. Right now, it’s not generating any revenue for Lufthansa, but if they integrate a field to input a passenger’s frequent flyer number, they might be able to mine the data for some unique insights. However, right now, they are concentrating on building a relationship with passengers through social media, not hammering them with ads.

It is important to always set the right expectations with your fans or followers on what you’re going to be doing. If you’re only selling seats or rooms, let them know. If you are providing customer service, let them know that, too.

In the hotel industry we know very well how painful is to loose a relationship and hard it is to create one. So do NOT confuse advertising with Social Media. People will walk away if you bang them every day with sales and offers. So treat your customer online as if he was standing in front of your front-office or even better as if he was having a coffee in your lobby.

Here I would like to thank again  Shashank Nigam for his post.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Where does Cyprus Tourism stands, according to Holiday Money Report ?

Holiday Money Report, British Post compares prices to the destinations British tourists usually travel. The 2009 report makes interesting points concerning the position of destinations, amongst them Cyprus, in the UK travel market. We took some points and added our comment and opinion.

• Bulgaria’s cheap packages and low living costs made it popular during the noughties – but another Balkan beach destination, Croatia, stole its thunder in 2009. Cyprus failed to compete due to Airline restrictions and late reaction of the sector, a bit of humbleness would not be bad sometimes.

• Turkey: seemingly unstoppable, resorts like Bodrum and Marmaris gave Turkey mass appeal. As the euro rose in value in the late noughties, a reputation for value and a weak currency made it the obvious choice for families looking for cheaper deals. This was the big bet,  families prefer Turkey due to price but not to quality. Cyprus with the boom of the 2nd house industry forgot tourism and as a domino effect the quality of service simply disappeared.

• Dubai: a 205 per cent rise in Post Office sales of the UAE dirham over the past four years shows that demand for holidays in the Emirate has been unrelenting. Dubai has a model that has never been tried before but its capacity to adapt in crisis environment maintained tourism relatively high and managed to offer value for money and excellent service at the resorts. Despite that Dubai is further from Cyprus the flight to Dubai from the UK was coming out cheaper. Cyprus was not able to play in the same league with Dubai ever but in times of crisis we had the opportunity to compete but we were very busy saving the last bits of the sinking ship.

• Egypt was the top mid-haul destination of the decade. Low package prices and cheap resort prices made Egypt’s Red Sea destinations popular with a 45 per cent growth in Post Office currency sales since 2005. We have no excuse as Cyprus not to be able to compete with Egypt. A destination with almost no infrastructure managed to shoot us on the foot and run away. Private sector was more active than the public sector and they took tourism management very seriously.

• Malta made a successful transition to the eurozone in 2008 and is now one of its cheapest members, with tourist items costing significantly less than in Cyprus, which joined at the same time. It seems that Cypriots have been busy again not managing their tourism. The stock market fraud before the euro and the price increase after the euro have been lethal.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Apostolides’ Lawyer, Constantis Kantounas will file case against 60 tourists that were accommodated in Dome Hotel Kyrenia.

This Blog on the 24th of January 2010 has already given an opinion what could have happen to the tourists that visit  the so called “North Cyprus” and stay in hotels there.

Our predictions were that the owners of hotels could take to court tourists that were accommodated in illegally occupied hotels. The case Apostolides Vs Orams opens the gates to the legal owner to take to court the users of the properties, that means the tourists.

Mr. Constandis Kantounas , the young lawyer who crashed Cherie Blair to the English and European courts, has admitted today in the most read newspaper of Cyprus that he is filing a case again 60 tourists who have been accommodated in the Hotel Dome in Kyrenia. On the post I published the 24th of Jan. 2010  I have used the Dome Hotel as an example without having in mind this fact.

Will this stop the English citizens look for cheap vacations in Cyprus using illegally hotels in the occupied part? Will this stop the hundreds of unconscious Greek Cypriots overnight in Hotels and Casinos in the occupied part of Cyprus.  I am not sure. If the Cypriot state does not take action against them then things will continue to be the same.
I am not against visiting Kyrenia or any other part of the so called “North Cyprus”.  I am against spending money there in activities that are illegal. The Turkish Cypriot workers and shopkeepers have the right to live a decent life but they cannot go against the international law. Their so called government dragged them in labyrinth of lies and fake promises for 35 years now. The only ones who took advantage of these lies are the politicians of both Turkey and occupied part of Cyprus.  I would say that it is time for the people to say something and stop this comedy. The Turkish military and their political allies here in Cyprus have used the people to gain political power and dragged them into a huge 35 year lie.

Now 35 years afterwards we see that using property of someone else illegally can cost you a fortune, sooner or later the law will come and find you. This should be a lesson also for those Greek Cypriots who only last Augusts have spent 450,000 euros in Casinos using credit card. In a country of 700,000 inhabitants we all know who is spending money in illegal casinos that keep financing the Turkish military status quo in our fathers land.

We, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots want to live together, this is a fact, and we want to build a future for our children in peace in a united Europe under the same sun. Politicians, people who use the status quo to make money, people like the Orams and more to come on the surface make things difficult for us.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Hotel Loyalty programs. Could they move to Social Media?

In the next 5- 8 years the majority of hotel consumers will be 24hrs a day connected to the internet via a mobile device. An iPhone, iPad, BlackBerry or whatever other gadget that will appear in the market will be in the pocket of all the customers of a hotel. Those gadgets already have a connection to Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and many other Social Media.

Hotels have spend fortunes to create complex Loyalty Programmes and maintain them cost them even more. It is very hard to keep track of all those cards you given out and even harder to determine who likes what. Social Media could be the substitute if used well. The painful part will be the transition. Hotels need to create in-house procedures of how those tools will be used in order to keep an open line of communication without crossing the line of privacy and not being annoying.

Some tests have shown that customers trust real People more than impersonal Social Media Profiles. It is more easy to become a Facebook friend of the director of a hotel than of the HotelGrand. The Hotel Napa Mermaid in Agia Napa Cyprus has started slowly but surely to connect its customers on the social Media Sphere.  The result is fantastic, customers already book not only their rooms for the next season but also participate in conversations with the director who receives direct  suggestions on how he could improve the services of this newly renovated upscale resort hotel.

Hyatt started last year a Twitter Concierge Service and opened the way to new ways of customer care. Now the next step is to create engagement elements on the social media sphere to maintain frequent non disturbing conversations and pass the “plastic loyalty” to a more live loyalty where personalisation can reach perfection.

We are entering the era of transforming hotel loyalty programmes and creating the conditions for Online Marketing for hotels to finally  get personal. In order to achieve this we need to be careful and professional. Practical training is needed in order to create new internal standards and procedures, show people how to use the online tools adequately.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Apostolides Vs Orams and Tourism in "North Cyprus"

This is what is going to be the impact of the decision of the UK Appeal court in the case Apostolides Vs Orams in tourism in Cyprus, and more concrete, in the occupied side of Cyprus, the so called "North Cyprus"

Form this blog's point of view this legal battle puts back in the right track the issues of Tourism in the occupied by Turkish troops part of Cyprus.

A bit of history: Cypriot tourism starts its development with mostly Greek Cypriot Hoteliers but also some Turkish Cypriot businessmen back in the sixties. After the Turkish invasion in the country in July 1974 the biggest engine of Cyprus Economy, tourism, suddenly stopped working. The reactivation of this engine begun again when the refugee entrepreneurs from the occupied land found the courage to start again from ashes. Hoteliers and travel agents managed to put back on the global tourist map the Cypriot Tourist product with great success. The creation of the Cyprus Tourism Organisation in 1975 was crucial.

In the meantime, the so called Turkish Cypriot authorities have been giving away hotels, land and premises to people they called "legal users".  This was an attempt to create a property status quo in order to assure political pressure. In my sincere opinion this did not serve in any good manner neither the interests of those users nor the interests of any politician in the occupied side on an international level. Giving away property that does not legally belong to you especially in European Union territory can only expose you heavily.

Apostolides Vs Orams case goes a step further. Mr. Meletis Apostolides and his lawyers using common sense managed to prove to all politicians that things cannot be the way they want them to be. Politics should stay out of things like human rights, basic freedoms and now is proven that should stay out of property and extensively tourism.

Now if we apply simple logic, if we just follow common sense, the same way the Cypriot, European and UK Appeal Courts did, we easily reach to the conclusion that all tourists, being those Cypriots or foreign, who visit the occupied by the Turkish troops land, should not use the occupied hotels since they are committing the same mistake Mr. and Mrs. Orams did.

Today, the legal owners of hotels are able to see who stays to those hotels searching the internet. We take as example the Dome Hotel in Kyrenia. The hotel belongs legally to Mr. Katsellis and his family. A simple search on Trip Advisor will give us a lot of information about who visited the hotel and when. Unfortunately those people have never been informed what it really means to be accommodated there. So as an advice, before you book a hotel in the occupied side of Cyprus, make sure your agent gives you all the information and please make a quick phone call to your lawyer of the ministry of foreign affairs of your country to make sure that what is suppose to be a relaxed holiday does not become a legal battle you will lose for sure. Once again what is right is right and no war or political interest can change it.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Rethinking Love in Tourism, a key question for Tourist Destinations

When it comes to Tourism marketing I feel that we are still working like the old times. Advertising and Marketing are defiantly two aspects of tourism where most budgets are spent.

We all talk about niche markets, personalized marketing, consumer analysis, customer relationships, products thought for the customer, destinations made to relax customers, blah blah and more blah customer blah….

How many destinations have really talked to the consumers? How many hotels really spent money on talking to their customers? How many travel companies design travel products as if it was for them to travel? Love your customer is not asking him to love you. Love is Give and Take,  not Take and Give. So if you really want you customer to Love you;  first you have to really love him !

Online marketing definitely offers many more "love tools", but still, who knows how to use them? or how many destinations use them effectively?

Please take 2 minutes and watch this video. Try to get in her shoes even if who we really are is him.