When I started my journey into the hospitality industry, back in 2017, little did I expect that I would be one day presenting at a related National Conference in Greece! Needless to say, of course, that albeit my surprise at the developments, it was indeed an honor to present Ithaki House at the 4th BNB Greece Conference in April 2022.
The invitation to present at the conference reached me in November, and as expected I was taken aback by it. I had to stress to the hosts that I am an amateur host and I emphasized the word amateur, more of a DIY ‘learn as I go along’ kind of host… What could I present that would be interesting to others? To my surprise this is what they wanted; they wanted to demonstrate an actual real-life example of a successful host and his/her pathway to ‘success’. I guess they acknowledged my passion for the hospitality industry, which is true. I actually most often say that, even late in life I have discovered my true passion.
What was even more of a paradox, I was asked to present how we use technology to manage and promote our Ithaki House. I am not really much of an IT savvy; I actually freak out even at the slightest change in the look of a web page! I see my kids and how they use technology, and I am astounded by how easy they find their way around things. It most often takes them 5 minutes to find their way around an app while it takes me a week to do the same thing.
Despite, though, my difficulties with technology adoption, I have learned to use the tools available to me to manage and promote our Ithaki House. An excellent example is the fact that my presence at the conference was triggered by a comment I had made on a post on the BNB facebook page…
So, how did we make it this far?
To start with, we have developed a beautiful and very functional website* that has every possible information our visitor and/or guests may need, such as location, amenities, floor plans, things to do, where to shop and eat. Our story and who we are, how to reach us, general information and tips about Cyprus (such as local weather, currency, driving and road rules to mention just a few).
But we didn’t stop at that. We have also added to the website:
- An integrated booking engine so that our visitors can explore different dates, availability, and prices.
- Our availability calendar which gives, at a glance, our availability for the coming months.
- Our WhatsApp integration so that the visitor can ask a question and get an answer almost immediately.
All the above have been totally necessary in order to be efficient and to give a comprehensive view of our home so that the guests can decide if we are the right place for their holiday.
Having said that, deep down I am still a traditionalist. Maybe this is due to age!? I can’t allow technology to take over.There is a point where technology stops and I am back in charge.
Even Michael Dell, a tech leader, acknowledges that it is not just about technology. His famous quote sums it all up.
“Our business is about technology, yes. But it’s also about operations and customer relationships”
With us, some things that we consider important will always remain the old traditional way. Our personal touch and attention is a promise.
- When you reach out to us, either via WhatsApp or via Facebook messenger, you will get a response from us, personally! You will not get a response from a bot! It may not be instant, but it won’t be too long before we get back to you giving you the exact information you need. I would be interested to know what you all feel about these virtual assistants as they are called, that now a days seem to appear in all messages and even on telephone answering machines! I am always so frustrated to face them as I never seem to get the answers or the help that I need and I find myself going round in circles.
- When you book with us, you will receive a personalized email that is written at the time we receive your booking. You do not get an automated vanilla email that is standard, templated and impersonal.
- We communicate the old fashion way! We love to use the post. There is nothing like the old-fashion brochure, post card, and small gifts wrapped in a beautiful box to arrive at your doorstep; don’t you agree? Yes, it is easier and of course less costly to send our guests information via email, no printing costs, no postal costs. Sometimes it is necessary for speed. After all it is just a click away. But still some things are better to be received physically.
- We treat ALL our guests with the same level of attention and care no matter where they made their booking from, OTA’s or Direct. Surely, we are strong supporters of the bookdirect movement. Our guests save big time and we save on the commission. At the same time, we acknowledge that we were chosen amongst so many other options, we owe it to every guest to make them feel special.
Our repeat bookings/referrals are nearly 50% of our business. Our reviews are all 10 out of10, and I was so proud to showcase this at the 4th BNB Conference in Greece. But mostly I was even more proud to share that we strongly believe in personalization, making sure our guests have a truly amazing experience throughout their journey with us. From the search, the booking, the preparation and the stay, to the departure… every step is important and receives our attention. I do acknowledge that it is easier to do so as we manage just one property. Knowing us we would not do it any other way, even if that meant to continue managing only Ithaki House.
We are very proud to know that we are not one of the many accommodation options out there.
Our guests do not say… “we stayed in an amazing Airbnb”.
Our customers say… “we stayed in an amazing holiday home, Ithaki House, in the idyllic village of Meladeia and we were looked after by Christina & Simos; Before we left, we booked to go again next year…We highly recommend it!”
Thank you again BNB News for the honor and see you next year!
Christina & Simos
- For more info on our website developer Hospitality Website Design | Responsive Hotel Website Design Company (boostly.co.uk)