“Seasonal Taxes will Develop Business and Cheapen Suite Tariffs”
-When HORECA Management Group was founded and what is the key field of your business?
–HORECA Management Group was founded in 2014 and it unites professional staff operating in the hospitality sector. In that period the tourism industry was a growing sector in Georgia and the demand for hotels was growing on annual basis. Consequently, the rising demands brought the need of professional staff and this factor has stimulated to establish this company.
We provide consulting services to new, beginner hotels, teach them how hotels should meet any stage of the project development: starting from development of the asset concept ending with commercial exploitation of the hotel and its further management. We teach its valuable designing, valuable equipment, how to hire and train the staff. We prepare hotels for inauguration, we keep all departments in order so as they could host guests and satisfy their expectations.
However, besides the recently opened hotels, we provide consulting services for the existing hotels too. For example, we have provided our services to such hotels as Marco Polo in Gudauri, Lopota SPA Resort in Kakheti and so on. We have assisted them in training the staff of various departments, conducted trainings and refined the working process due to the international standards. Naturally, we provide intense job in this direction too and the demand for our services grow.
-What projects has HORECA Management Group implemented since 2014 and what projects are you implementing now?
-Our portfolio consists of about 20 diverse and interesting projects implemented for 4 years. We cooperate with such hotels as Colosseum Marina Hotel, Golden Palace Batumi Hotel & Casino, Hotel Borjomi Palace & Spa, Lopota Lake Resort & Spa, Snow plaza Hotel, Gonio Inn, Corner Inn and so on.
At this stage, we have 5 ongoing projects both in Tbilisi and outside. We plan to open a recreational complex in Saguramo, a new hotel in Kvishkheti with focus on children, even more so the location enables that parents and their children arrive in summer period, spend holidays at old resort zone.
We have 2 ongoing projects in Tbilisi. We manage one project in Vake – hotel Atlas Abashize and we are also representatives of Swiss Belhotel International, the international hotel brand, which unites about 150 hotels worldwide. We have become their exclusive representative in the South Caucasus and we plan to develop in this direction too. Consequently, several other hotels will open under the mentioned brand.
We have been also implementing a project in Kakheti, near Telavi, which will open in 2012 with 80 suites.
-Why HORECA Management Group, what advantages will hotels and restaurants get in case of cooperation with you?
– The advantage of HORECA Management Group is that we can offer a full range of services to the customer – starting from a hotel concept development, its inauguration and further management. We are very flexible, are not confined with only capital city. We have implemented projects in eastern and western Georgia. We are represented almost in all regions. We remain absolutely open in the working process. Consequently, it is simple to communicate with us. We offer a full range of services to the customer, a full cycle of services, through which the customer is able to receive such ready product that will bring impressive incomes and profits through the years.
-As known HORECA Management opened Atlas Abashidze hotel recently. What category of hotel is it and what makes it special compared to other Tbilisi hotels?
–Atlas Abashidze hotel was recently opened, 3 months ago. It is maximally adapted to businessmen. Our visitors mainly arrive for business meetings. The hotel comprises 17 comfortable suites meeting all international standards. The hotel also has its own conference hall, canteen space, which works in the evening as a bar.
In the near future we will launch construction of a new hotel near Opera, on Chavchavadze Street, which will open in summer 2019. This will be a small hotel due to the quantity of its suites, but with special design, location and quality of services.
– It is widely stated that in Georgia services and prices are incommensurate. Despite growing number of tourists, they are not offered European-standard services anyway. What is the reason and how can we comply services with prices?
-Georgia is a pioneer in the tourism sector, in practice, and we are taking first steps in this direction. We are learning the secrets of services, how to match services with tariffs. Therefore, the market defects are absolutely logical, but they should be improved in the course of time.
We have been working on this direction and a lot of managers have been involved in this process from both our company and other hotels. Eventually, managers or owners of all hotels try to improve their services. Naturally, generations should change to completely improve the situation. Services cannot be improved without new generations. It is noteworthy that our people have realized this field has huge perspectives and young people show growing interest and intention to work in the hospitality sector on various positions. We will be able to get closer to European standards in several years, European services and we will manage to offer better services and more comfort to our clients.
-How does the Government foster the hotel business and what further support and assistance is required in this field?
– The Government genuinely provides overall support, but it will be wonderful to revise taxes, which burdens the hotel business. We know that hotels in Georgia basically depend on seasonal opportunities and in offseason period they have to pay a full package of taxes anyway, while the market lacks for tourists. This is serious burden for the hotel business. Therefore, prices on suites grow and finally, prices are inadequate with services. Therefore, if the Goverbment revises the tax policy and alleviates it, naturally, we will receive better results and foster the business sector development. As to the tourism administration, they have valuably engaged in popularization of our country and I would like to express my gratitude to them in the name of our group. We keep close communication with them and jointly participate in many events.
– Representatives of both the Government and business sector frequently stress that we have 5-star luxury hotels in the country, but we lack for 3-4 star hotels. What is the reason and solution?
–Cheap money is required to develop this segment, that is, cheap loans and maximum promotion. If people today start with 5-ster Guesthouses, it would be better that they be able to open 40-suite hotels initially. Cheap money will assist to get as many 3-4 star hotels as possible. Moreover, at this stage, there are many apartments being hired in Tbilisi and various cities of Georgia. In Batumi the number of apartments has hit its peak and 7000 new apartments will be added by 2021. This process will be badly reflected on the hotel incomes. When tourists prefer cheaper options, this detrimental tendency badly hits the hotel sector, but brings benefits for our population.
-It is widely stated that the country lacks for rich tourists, that is, tourists who spend much money and choose hotels for accommodation. What steps the country should take to attract high-income tourists?
-To attract high-income tourists, we should first of all develop infrastructure. To this end, it is not sufficient to open only 5-star hotels. We should develop the existing resources in the country and this will be interesting for both high-income and medium-class foreign tourists. We should offer as many entertainments as possible. They should be able to see more diversity in our country.
We have good wines in Georgia, winemaking traditions. We have interesting history, we can introduce a lot of historical monuments, churches to tourists, but this is not sufficient to attract high-income tourists. We should inspire them to spend money. We will not get desirable results without arranging respective infrastructure.
-Serious criticism is staged on such programs as Check in Georgia, various festivals, sports events and budget funds spent on similar activities. How important is it for our country to hold similar events and how does it attract tourists?
-I personally welcome the initiative by Check in Georgia. Foreign citizens may be interested in it. We should conduct as many festivals as possible to attract as many tourists as possible. Everybody remembers the concert by Elton John and even foreign citizens arrived to Georgia to attend the concert. Similar concerts, festivals and sport events are necessary for tourism development and the government should continue its support and funding in this respect.
It is also important to preliminary compose the schedule of coming events to actively popularize them outside of Georgia. This practice will further increase the tourists inflow.
Interviewed by Giorgi Kapanadze