Dimitri Shvelidze: "Being Creative doesn’t Mean Investing too much, Original Ideas are often Simple’’
Interview with Dimitri Shvelidze, Deputy Director of the Mira-Hotel Group Ltd (Hotel Riverside Tbilisi, Tiffany Bar and Terrace, Mira Travel).
Tell us about how you got into the field of marketing, and what factors played an important role in choosing this profession?
I started out my studies and career in a different field; I got my Master’s in Law, towards Civil Law in 2014, and worked in some public and private organizations, after which I joined the Mira-Hotel Group, and over time I moved to the position of Deputy Director.
Since I enjoyed marketing, representing brands, sales and communication, I decided to deepen my knowledge of marketing. In addition, I took a Cambridge University Business Administration course. Although I received even more experience by reading relevant materials, and listening to experienced people in this field, and attending different training sessions. I realized that I liked this field, while my previous education and law degree would help me, generally, in marketing.
Practice in the hotel and restaurant business brought me more experience. One should never stop learning. Meanwhile, I’ve been able to publish four books over the years, in a totally different field:adventure fantasy for children.
In regards to technological changes, what challenges do you face as the head of a marketing service?
The hospitality industry is developing rapidly in our country, as well as worldwide. Technological changes, among which are the development of social networks, influence our potential customers. Years ago, a share of reservation fees would go to tour managers - people and companies, respectively, who would provide useful information, and recommendations. Along with the development of online platforms, websites took some share from reservations. Computers are constantly replaced by smartphones. A huge amount of bookings are made through phones. Social networks influence customer decisions, which hotel to choose. The right positioning on the social platforms, like Instagram, Facebook are very important. So-called influencers play a huge role in what people choose. Everyone uses international website monitoring systems and customers reviews to make the right choice.
What has changed in the field in the last 5 years, and what changes are expected?
As we know, marketing in the hospitality industry involves a number of activities in terms of sales, public relations, advertising, etc. This is a complex field. One sentence that describes marketing is: the process of establishing a productive relationship with a customer, and maintaining it. A marketing manager should think outside of the box, understand the product that he offers.
It should be noted that studies also play an important role in developing marketing strategies and tactics. In addition, the marketing manager should listen, communicate with a customer, as well as with his team. A guest can only be satisfied if each and every department operates correctly. Being a creative doesn’t mean to investing much; original ideas are often simple. I often put myself in a customer’s shoes, if I want to go to a cafe, why should I choose Tiffany, what are the advantages, why should I want to go back there, what will I remember about that place, etc.
What important features should a marketing manager focus on, and what are their roles in an organization?
We never stop learning, listening, evaluating and introducing new technologies that simplifies the process for our team, so that they have more time to communicate with guests. Bringing a guest to your place is a success, while maintaining them and make them come back is a challenge, and take a lot of work. Besides, one must pay attention to a country’s economy, and catch up with novelties.
How do you help organizations catch up with new trends and innovations in the field of marketing?
The customer is most important, especially in the hospitality field. We ask them questions, we listen to them, analyze their feedback, and improve our services accordingly. We have many examples of that. As for channels through which we communicate, it develops rapidly. I’m glad that Riverside, which is a Georgian hotel brand, is among the 10 best hotels for the last 4 years on the famous American website Tripadvisor. (Travelers Choice Awards)
One word that describes your job.
The most useful advice you’ve ever received in your life?
Take care of self-development every day, or everything will go downhill. The American ambassador gave us this advice years ago, and I have followed this principle since then.
Think of a person who inspires you, professionally.
It’s hard to name one person from one specific field. There are numerous people who inspire us with their diligence, dedication and skill when solving an issue. That can be a writer, or any person working in the company. Among them are talented people who contribute to the field of hospitality, those who started out with a small family-type hotel, and established a huge network, and an empire; moreover, maintained properly, that’s one of the most significant qualities.