Dimitris Manikis: Georgia has an Amazing Landscape to Build On
Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, the hospitality powerhouse with nearly 9,200 hotels in more than 80 countries, has recently opened the Wyndham Grand hotel in Tbilisi, Georgia.
The U.S.-based international hotel and resort chain has replaced the Turkish luxury hotel chain Rixos as managers of the city-center property, which will welcome its first guests under the group’s premium-class brand name Wyndham Grand. Dimitris Manikis, President and Managing Director for Europe, Middle East, Eurasia and Africa (EMEA) of Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, see Georgia as an international tourism destination.
The Wyndham Grand Tbilisi hotel has opened in the city center, where a number of international brand hotels are already present. What is unique about Wyndham Grand Tbilisi that makes the hotel competitive on the market?
The unique selling points of Wyndham Grand are quality, location and the brand itself, as well as the fact that it is part of one of the world’s largest hotel groups. Here at this 5-star property, you will discover old-world charm from the comfort and elegance of our Wyndham Grand Tbilisi hotel. Situated near Tbilisi’s main tourist location, the Rustaveli Avenue, the hotel provides easy access to some of the best shopping, nightlife and dining locations, as well as being very close to the local museums and galleries. Wyndham Grand has a distinct place among our brands, being a premium-class brand. Wyndham is a unique company that unites twenty different brands. Every time we meet, we remind ourselves of the same thing, we’ve got brands that fit every single customer, everything from A to Z. Now we have opened Wyndham Grand in Tbilisi, because we believe that we have a suitable clientele here – people who are willing to pay more to stay at a quality hotel like this.
Here we will find business and leisure-oriented clients staying at the hotel at the same time. This mixture of business and leisure is referred to as B-leisure. Even in the hospitality industry, we liked to put labels on people in the past, but we no longer do so. The same person who pays for a business class ticket to go to New York, will a few months later buy a low-cost ticket to spend a weekend in Barcelona. The moment you put labels on people is when you lose a big portion of the market. We should not build a hotel that appeals to one client base alone.
This brand establishes our presence in Georgia from the quality perspective. We also have other great ongoing and future projects in the country. Every project will have its own clientele. The key thing for us as a business is to make sure that our brands do not ‘cannibalize’ one another. We, therefore, have brands that complement each other. We have been very careful with regards to how we build our business.
What standout concepts does Wyndham Hotels and Resorts bring to Georgia?
A brand name alone does not mean anything. What is important for us are the people, the values, the DNA and the spirit, and our guests feel this. We bring a few simple but important things to this country. With 75 million members, our loyalty program is one of the biggest in the world. We have a network of 9000 properties. We are the biggest franchiser of hotels. What we bring here is recognition, awareness and size, because size and scale do matter in the hospitality industry. We bring a great team with us. A very important thing about Georgia is that you have highly educated people here who speak foreign languages. For us, this is an amazing landscape to build on. Hospitality is a career here, which is great – the same is not the case everywhere. For instance, in the United Kingdom people do not work in the hospitality sector for long. The important thing that Georgia needs to do is to keep reminding people that hospitality is a real industry rather than a part-time job.
How do you see the future of the hospitality market worldwide? What are the challenges, and what are the new trends in the sector?
Sustainability is going to be very important. Taking care of the planet is the responsibility of tourism. I lived in London for the past year. Recently there were lots of discussions on this issue, with thousands of people from different age groups and origin reminding everyone of us that the planet needs our attention. With 1.8 billion tourists globally, with flights and pollution, sustainability is the number one issue in the tourism sector all around the world. We see what is happening in Barcelona – they are saying no to tourists. The same happened in Santorini, Greece Where tourist flows need to be managed so the island and the environment does not suffer. We need to be very mindful that tourism is a catalyst and an enabler, but never something that should destroy destinations. The recourses that the earth has given us are not to be taken for granted.
Author: Kate Tabatadze