Thursday, July 8, 2010

Greece, Where 20% of GDP is from Tourism.

While waiting for the ferry that carried two friends from Athens to Paros at the windmill, Sam and I were approached several times by hotel employees making conversation with us. They asked us where we were from, what we were doing in Paros, what we studied in school and of course where were staying. They were very friendly and inquisitive. They also complimented us a lot. It seems like the Greek style to offer so many compliments. It is a general consensus among my friends and I that Greeks are much more likely than American males to be prone to flatter you and be very forward. In return for all of their questions, I asked the hotel employees about their occupation. They told me how competitive the hotel business is in town. This makes sense since such a large part of the island’s revenue is from tourism and there are many hotels.

One way to get clients is to stand by the dock in front of fences with signs that feature the name of your hotel and sometimes pictures. Some hotel owners have been doing this for years, maybe even decades, and have good experience at being able to lure tourists fresh off the boat to come talk to them. One of our new acquaintances was from Slovakia and had only been advertising the hotel for a couple of days. He let us help him advertise the Hotel Polos. He said we were pretty and bound to get a customer. Then he gave us the sign and led us behind the bars so we could stand there and wave to tourists to beckon them. It was interesting to observe the assertive attitudes of the hotel employees vying for tourist attention. Some of them get into fights and are very argumentative. Our acquaintance said he has seen many fight but he hasn’t been here long enough to have been involved in a fight himself. Also, you are not allowed to tell the prices to get a customers attention. You are only allowed to tell them prices once they take your brochure, walk past the bars and talk to you. It is a rule you don’t break. I accidentally said the price and was reprimanded. An employee from another hotel yelled at me and told me "Hey, Blondie get out. " Unfortunately none of us were able to get a customer, but the employee got one. We also learned that Scandinavians are one of the greatest percentages of tourists right now according to the hotel owner. The Germans come a little later in July through September. This experience was interesting because it revealed to me an aspect of Greek tourism I hadn’t seen before. Coming to Paros was the first time I encountered a swarm of hotel employees trying to flag me down to stay at their place. It was a slightly intimidating experience, although I just walked straight past them. In America, the hotel industry doesn’t work this way. In the States, most establishments operate on reputation. You don’t try to haggle with the Hilton or the Olive Garden, you come for what the TV ad or the menu shows you. In Greece, deals can be made and haggling is ubiquitous. The positive of this type of advertising is that you are able to live spontaneously and get a hotel room easily without planning ahead.

No comments:

Post a Comment