By SeeNews team
Q: Park Inn by Radisson Sofia is part of The Rezidor Hotel Group. Why did the company decide to invest in Bulgaria now, in times of crisis, rather than during the investment boom a few years ago?
A: The acquisition of new properties in Rezidor’s portfolio depends on multiple factors. Certainly, it is easier to have additional hotels in booming markets, but first of all the property itself – its size, infrastructure, location, the quality of the building and overall image – has to fit into the standards of the chain. The former Greenville Hotel in Sofia fulfilled most of these criteria but was not “available” before. Furthermore, we believe in the growth of the SEE region and could mark our territory with the first international branded four-star hotel in Sofia.
Q: Park Inn by Radisson Sofia is positioned among the best hotels in the middle segment, targeting business travellers. What additional business opportunities do you see in Bulgaria?
A: Our segmentation is about 75% corporate and 25% leisure business, on average. Even if the property is not located in the city centre, it offers advantages for leisure travellers, such as a terrace and a garden, a large fitness and spa centre with an indoor pool, quiet and green surroundings and a very personalised “Yes I can” service attitude. We would love to see more tourists visiting the capital, but this requires specific and constant marketing activities.
Q: Do you consider additional business opportunities outside Sofia?
A: The Rezidor Hotel Group is constantly searching for new business opportunities. Major cities, such as Plovdiv, but also the Black Sea coast could be new potential areas. So far, we have no particular projects.
Q: What was your approach to the local market – did you add any local flavour to the hotel to respond to the Bulgarian environment?
A: As the Greenville Hotel was managed by a local company, we rather added international standards to the new Park Inn by Radisson Sofia. By that time, there was no four-star branded hotel on the market.
Q: Did the Bulgarian market surprise you in any way? In what ways is the market different from other markets you have experience from?
A: Every market with its specifics is a new challenge. This makes our job so interesting and diversified. If there were surprises, they were only positive. Nevertheless, there are quite a lot of things Bulgaria needs to improve to find its place on the world map. Well-organised and supported marketing activities are needed to increase international awareness, not only in the tourism sector but also in the corporate business segment.
Q: What knowledge from your previous international hospitality experience do you apply in the management of Park Inn Sofia?
A: Overall, open communication and personal business relations with guests, staff and suppliers. I’m a strong believer that only as a well-organised and motivated team we can provide the expected services to our clients. This is what I call the “software” and the spirit of a hotel. Unfortunately, in too many properties the “hardware” is still what is most important. To my mind, this is wrong. Having worked for many years with very different mentalities has opened up my mindset and formed my multi-cultural management style.
Q: What are the challenges you face as a manager? Have you met any unfair competition so far in Bulgaria?
A: We all face challenges on a daily basis as our business is very human-related and every single person has a different character. This makes our profession so exciting and different. In general, I always see competitors as a positive factor of market dynamics. Without competition we would get stuck in our procedures because we will miss the push to be better. It is difficult to judge what is fair and unfair. Everyone needs to defend their own business, especially in a market which is not growing fast. My only concern is about price dumping. For me, this is a very dangerous way to build a solid long-term foundation.