It’s been a year since world’s leading luxurious brand Hilton opened its first hotel in Georgian seaside town Batumi, however it has established itself as one of the accessible and trendiest hotels in Georgia. Soon hotel plans to expand its activities through the whole country and region. CBW has contacted Stuart Nelson General Director of Hilton Batumi.
How opening of Hilton hotel in Georgia impacted on the local market?
Hilton joining the local market, in the first year, had a positive impact on the market in Batumi. With our travel partners we secured a flight into Batumi from Tel Aviv up to the end of December. This was a first for Batumi & we are looking to encourage other carriers from other destinations to come to Batumi year round. The destination cannot survive if we only attract the same numbers of guests as the year before or only for a limited summer season.
Hilton Batumi has been operating for a year already, did it met all the expectations? How do you asses the performance of the hotel?
Early indications are very encouraging for the business and we surpassed our initial projections. It will take a year or two to have a full picture of the demand over the year but we are performing well in this market. The market has to diversify and we hope to encourage more travellers to Batumi and the hotel.
Despite the fact that Hilton is one of the leading brands in the world, its pricing policy in Georgia is lower than other brands, is this your marketing campaign or Hilton tries to balance prices on the market?
We have more rooms to sell than other hotels in Batumi. We have not placed our pricing below everyone else’s prices; we have used pricing to attract new markets through our experience in the field. We yield rates every day within all our markets to attract more customers.
Simple economic theories on supply and demand have been used for centuries to determine pricing. The ancient Silk roads were one of the early trading examples.
“Stop Clicking Around” is a Hilton globally launched campaign that encourages all guests to book on line for the very best rates, outperforming other established .com companies.
We offer our lowest rates on line. We also offer apps to help with this process so you are always in control of your reservations and pricing is fully transparent. This campaign has delivered some amazing results, totally changing the way the world business of Hotel room sales operates. Another world leading Hilton initiative in action.
In order to become more successful on Georgian market, what activities do you plan to implement?
We start with all our restaurant pricing matches pricing in the City, year round. All our prices include tax and service, so we offer the very best value in all our restaurants and bars.
We look to source all foods locally, so are seeking Georgians farmers to grow crops for us. We have developed partners in producing Honey so we have bee hives on one of our roofs, producing fantastic Georgian honey for our guests. We want to bring success to Georgian businesses. It’s not an easy thing to do but it’s becoming better.
We also have to say, Daily flights to Tbilisi is our focus. We must encourage all parties concerned to sort out this crippling infrastructure issues. The lack of internal flights is strangling the city’s accessibility to guests flying to and from Tbilisi.
So we are lobbying Government to attract an airline that the market will trust and deliver consistency. They must yield the seats on each flight to offer affordable prices. The same principles hotels learned to use for their bedrooms is the model used to sell airline seats.
Hilton Batumi also unites luxurious residential complex, could you tell us more about this?
The owners are selling apartments in the block next door to the hotel. There is no direct involvement for Hilton in this project. We are informed that sales are going well.
Do you plan to expand your business activities in other towns of Georgia?
We have a Hilton Garden Inn, currently under construction in Tbilisi and in the last month there was a contract signed to build a Hilton in Tbilisi, on the sight of the old Ministry of Agriculture. This year there has also been a Hilton Double Tree opened in Yerevan, so along with Baku and all the 15 properties opening soon in Turkey, Hilton is really growing in the country and region.
What do you expect for this year’s summer season?
We see early demand from the Russian market, following the tragedies in Egypt and the tensions with Turkey. We still have a long way to go to match places like Sochi as far as the number of flights but we are seeing growth from Russia. The Iranian market has also seen the visa free policy’s benefit them as do markets from China & Israel.
Our focus is on a year round market, as the summer one is established.