Boutique Sydney-based wholesaler Greece & Mediterranean Travel Centre (GMTC) has tasked travel advisors to better qualify the luxury needs of their clients in order to deliver on expectation.
Managing Director of GMTC, Halina Kubica has raised concerns about inexperienced travel advisors that undervalue the Greek Islands. Her “biggest dilemma” is that sellers seem to think they need to book Greek Island travel arrangements, such as hotels, ferries, transfers and day tours, bit-by-bit and with different suppliers.
“Many sellers have this perception that booking travel arrangements in Mykonos or Santorini is the same as London or Paris. But unfortunately it’s not,” Kubica told LATTE.
Kubica, who has been specialising in Greek holidays for nearly 30 years, says FIT holidays to the destination are often far more complicated that advisors realise. With no clear and reliable official star-rating system for hotels on the islands, a property that calls itself luxury, or has a luxury room offering “may just be a good 4-star, but not luxury,” she warns.
She said advisors should be conscious that holidaying in the Greek Islands in peak season comes with a premium price tag due to the limited accommodation options as well as top of the market facilities and services offered by some hotels. It’s also crucial that travel sellers know the difference between a luxury hotel offering and that of a villa or complex of rooms to rent. It is crucial to distinguish between a five-room villa with one cleaner and breakfast served on the balcony versus a properly run hotel with a full reception, bar, restaurants and room service. There are also differences between the luxury properties that may suite one type of client over the other options available as a result of style and location.
“My quest now is to educate agents that most hotels are privately owned. There’s no Four Seasons, Hilton or other big name luxury hotel brands on the smaller islands. Local knowledge is essential.”
“Consumers need to be aware that if they want to go to Mykonos or Santorini, it’s a different price range to other, lesser-known islands or other cities in the world. Pricing is not only based on the size of the room, the view, the location but also the level of service provided.”
She also drew attention to the fact that the dollar has increased in value in other locations like Southeast Asia so the price of accommodation cannot be compared between both destinations.
“If a client has been to Bali or somewhere in Asia, their dollar goes a lot further. In a destination such as Koh Samui, you can pay $3,500 a week for a 250 square-metre, 2-bedroom villa with a massive bath that takes two hours to fill. Compared to a top-shelf option in Mykonos that is a quarter of the size, it’s €3,000 a night! But this is Mykonos. People have to understand. It’s all about location, location, location. In Sydney, you’d pay a premium for an Opera House or Harbour Bridge view, so the same applies in Greece,“ Kubica explained.
“It’s a difficult point of understanding for some. But if you want high-shelf in this destination, that’s what you have to pay.”
“It’s up to the advisor to prepare their clients’ for the outlay to meet their expectations. The customer needs to be aware that this is the cost in high season in Santorini, so they understand what they have to pay is reasonable to the environment.”
The Polish-born Greece expert said agents may be hesitant to ask what a client’s holiday budget is from the outset of a quote. One way to tackle the topic it is give them an indication of cost:
“If you’re going to Santorini in peak season, just to let you know, to get decent accommodation with a view one will need to pay at least AU$500 dollars per night, for luxury hotel the prices start upwards A$800 a night. Is that within your budget?” Kubica suggested.
She encourages advisers to contact Greece Mediterranean Travel Centre to discuss their clients’ needs and expectations for each individual case.
“The luxury travellers expect premium service and we provide it,” Kubica concluded.
Lead image: Santorini view