Panos Almyrantis is the General Manager of Daios Cove Luxury Resort & Villas and the Vice President of the European Hotel Managers Association (EHMA).
EHMA was established in Rome in 1974. It is a non-profit association of Hotel Managers operating first class and luxury hotels across Europe. The founding members firmly believed that service is the principle tenet of quality hospitality. Personal service is the key stability, and without it luxury hotels cannot survive.
1. What are the most challenging issues you are facing on your current position?
The hotel general manager once was an innkeeper, greeting and entertaining guests, socializing at various events, and providing public relations for the property. Over the past years, the role became more focused on business. While serving the guest is still important, it became the general manager's responsibility to ensure that the finest service was delivered profitably. With owners focused on the "big picture" of a fast return on investment and with real estate / banker / lenders monitoring performance closely, a general manager's decisions regarding management and marketing of the overall product are much different than before. This is especially so for independent properties.
2. What do you do at work that you enjoy so much you actually lose track of time?
This is not a profession; it is a passion. That’s hospitality. After acquiring knowledge, you need to convert it into passion and deliver on it. Delivery means living in the property and being happy about it as you are a role model to the team. When one thinks of how multifaceted a hotel team is, from the gardener to the Executive Assistant Manager, you easily understand that reaching everyone is a top priority. And to approach different people, in different positions with fascinating backgrounds and very many different needs you lose track of time as you are seen as a paternal figure on the scene.
3. If you could relive one day of your life, which day would you choose?
Undoubtfully the day that my daughters were born, as I fulfilled the ultimate need of a human being, to create life. This made me a better person and helped me a lot as a Manager to see transparently that creating life means leading the future and caring for someone means squeezing your mind to become more creative. Hospitality is all about that and the parallelism of a child’s birth with new ideas, new concepts and caring for people sets a concrete path for personal evolvement.
4. In the eyes of your employees, what is the single most important quality you should have?
Motivate them. Only a great manager can smile through the worst calamity and still manage to bring it all together when needed. It’s a must have quality to maintain a good relationship with staff, and new recruits. A successful manager needs to communicate effectively with all levels. Possessing the skills to communicate at all levels makes a manager efficient and valuable but above all their personnel sees their scope of prosperity and enhanced human culture.
5. In your opinion, what is the single best quality your employees can possess?
Be passionate. Your vibes depict who you are. I’ve seen the mediocre and I’ve seen the best, and the difference between them is that the best are passionate. No task is a small task, and the best take extra efforts to accomplish each. Their passion is a drive to create everlasting experiences, and it doesn’t matter what it takes.
6. What are the things that you do not like to do?
If you cut the word holidays into half, you get what relaxation means to guests. These are their “holy days”, often a week in an entire year that they need to create memories and recharge their batteries before returning back to a fast-paced normality surrounded by digitization, responsibilities and speediness. I have an urge to offer smoothness and as a hotel is a living organism that could be mistaken sometimes, I do not like it when something in the chain goes wrong and the “holy days” of a guest become just travel days. It is something that marks a personal failure, which is why I spot its importance to my team.
7. If you must make a choice, would you do the things right or would you do the right things?
My personal daily task which I convey to my team, is to create curated travel experiences and a euphoric feeling to guests with a continued commitment to service excellence. To do this you have to think creatively, differently, unconventionally, or from a new perspective. It is not about do things right or do the right thing but rather to Simplify it, to Ask why and to Flex your brain muscles. If you do this, you broaden your spectrum and apply both.
8. Which aspects of the Greek culture do you enjoy the most? Which aspects of the culture do you find most difficult to adjust to?
The tradition of hospitality is a timeless characteristic of Greek culture. Even today, a visitor’s first contact with Greek lands and people is often memorably colored by the generous hospitality offered by their host. This custom, dates back thousands of years, commemorated in the semi-historical pages of the anonymous bards we know as “Homer,” whose frequent descriptions of hospitality highlight the tradition’s religious, social and political functions. In simple words, hospitality is in the Greek DNA and this is our legacy. The most difficult adjustment is for all of us to dig out this legacy and understand that we have a wealth of natural resources underlined by Cross-Cultural Interaction that goes back in our history. Pair this up with the Greek noun “Philotimo” translating to "love of honor" and you get an array of virtues.
9. What are your strengths and weaknesses?
The strongest Hotel Managers are those who know their strengths and weaknesses and have established realistic, yet attainable, goals that challenge their teams. In this context I feel that I should strive daily to be:
- a) Level-Headed: A great manager is a mediator.
- b) Compassionate: It takes compassion to gain people’s trust.
- c) Calm: Calm inspires confidence, and both are essential.
- d) Cheerful: Being a pleasure to work with.
- e) Understanding: Be willing to listen and understand.
- f) Receptive: It pays tremendously to be open to hearing new ideas.
- g) Loyal: Surrounding myself with great people and be loyal to them.
- h) Empathetic: Feel what those around you are feeling.
10. At work, what puts a smile on your face?
It’s always about people. You develop a serve-first mentality as you encounter different types of personalities daily. From the gentle, to the irate and everything in between, dealing with all kinds of people instills a sense of utmost professionalism and courtesy which you take with you wherever you go. Hospitality is a great place to learn the importance of teamwork whilst Indulging your senses. That puts the greatest smile on your face.
11. What puts a frown on your face?
Seeing a frustrated guest, as this leads to a frustrated employee, overly long meetings to identify what went wrong and apologies. All that can be avoided by simply being flexible and open to change.
12. How have you changed in the past five years?
The biggest trends coming for the hospitality industry are sustainability, global perspective, finding balance with new lodging options, and growing demand. This has changed me in the past five years but needs further forward thinking:
a) Millennials have spoken: sustainability is the future for hotels,
b) Hospitality professionals need to think globally,
c) Old threats will become new inspiration,
d) Demand is still growing, and the peak is yet to come.
13.What advice would you offer to those who are inspired to become successful in the hotel industry?
The hospitality industry is evolving every day. This might be a change in policies, staff attrition or a new technology. A hotel manager should never be scared of change but embrace it. If our employees see that we are adopting to change rather than resisting it, they will follow. They need to know where we want to stir the hotel to. This means that the hotel manager needs to be clear on ther vision and encourage everyone to work towards the same goal. It is like a rowing team. A team cannot win a race if the one giving the paddling instructions is not a good communicator.
14.What’s next? What are your predictions regarding the hospitality industry for next season?
One of the most striking characteristics is that people’s holidays are based on emotions and feelings. While this unexpected crisis will undoubtedly have strong impact on societies, it is unlikely to affect the very roots of human nature. COVID might have changed the way we work, interact, shop and spend time but it will not change who we are and what we want from life. People will value authenticity and meaningful values after months of isolation and anxiety, and they will want to experience life again. Will it be tough? Absolutely! But tourism is resilient and although it will come back fast it will probably take 3 to 4 years to reach 2019 figures.