Hayk Sahakyan – Director of Sales and Marketing at The Alexander, A Luxury Collection Hotel, Yerevan

In the Armenian market, we can see that there is not a straight and right segmentation of hotels as products and nowadays there are hotels which consider themselves as luxury ones. How would you describe the real meaning of a luxury hotel?
Each hotel aims to be considered as the best one, it is the obvious desire. The luxury segment is the new-born definition in Armenia in general and in the hospitality industry in particular. As the first and only international luxury hotel in the country, we represent standards, approach, and vision that the luxury hotels are to have. In my opinion, luxury is the best, limited, sophisticated and meaningful attitude to the regular services and goods, similar to the reason to separate classical music from the rest. Numerous stories behind each detail, exceeding and anticipating the needs and feelings of our guests, highest standards of quality and service combined with exceptional design, location and features make the hotel luxury. The hospitality in Armenia has been developing for more than two decades. Travelers exploring our country represent various segments and there is no need to aim every each of them. Because of the low volume of the market, properties are trying to adapt and make the best out of acting as affordable, MICE, family, business, group and luxury hotels at the same time. Which in return damages country image, destabilizes competition, destroys segmentation. I believe there is room for each segment in the hospitality industry. We just need to clearly understand which one do we represent, who do we target and which properties do we compete with.
During the low season, we can see that some hotels are going into price damping. What do you think about it? Why is it happening?
I would think of three main, simple reasons. First, from November to February the market suffers from the lack of business in every segment, properties need to operate, pay salaries, costs and fees. That is why they target everything they are able to get some business. Second, is that properties are not confident of what to expect in terms of economic, political and social development of the country. In these conditions, business always aims at a short-term income strategy. Finally, some strategy decision makers of the hotels do not always realize the structure of the market and drop the rates lower than their below-tier colleagues. It brings to the domino-effect rate drops, Armenia presents its product in a tender with the daily price difference of 10-25 USD between 3 and 5-star hotels. You may guess the perception of the country as the tourism destination yourself. Moreover, it creates issues with future pricing strategy as you may have hard times explaining to your partners why increased the rate twice in May or September. Consolidated market strategy, a clear understanding of the segments, respect towards each other and hospitality community creation will bring us to much better results, I believe.
What advice would you give to the young generation who are going to work in the hotel and hospitality industry? What are the main criteria someone should follow?
There is no precise criteria, nor key for success. I have one advice for the people who have decided to join the hospitality. You need to love what you are doing, love to make people happy, to make their special day unforgettable. You simply need to love to host guests in your apartment. Each of you represents our country and only after the place you work. If it is all about you, welcome aboard! When you are aboard, the hard work time will come. Every single day you will need to learn something new, to become better and to pass your expertise to the team you are working with. I truly hope to see a proper hospitality school in Armenia in the nearest future, where young people would become professionals supported by the restaurant, hotel and tour business specialists for the better hospitality in Armenia.