Where could be more appropriate for European hoteliers to discuss the world hotel trade than Greece, the link between East and West?
It is rare to find a venue where one can appreciate the history, monuments and myths of ancient Greece while experiencing the vibrancy and fast pace of modern life. Athens, what better city to host the EHMA's 31st General Meeting, from 22-25 January 2004.
The Athenaeum Intercontinental Hotel, with its wellestablished reputation and uncompromisingly high standards in conference organisation and friendly Greek hospitality, hosted the conference.
During the meeting elections took place for the new President of the Association. The newly elected President is Jean-Henri Antoine from France, first Vice-President Johanna Fragano from Italy and Vice President Chris Tzianos from Greece.
The official opening of the three-day event took place at dinner in the Hilton Hotel where the Mayor of Athens, Mrs. Dora Bakoyanni welcomed the members and their escorts. The Mayor underlined the importance of tourism and the contribution of professionals, such as the prestigious Managers of the European Hotel Industry. She briefly explained the infrastructure works presently carried out for the Olympic Games, the organizational activities involved and the benefits for the countrys tourism.
For the first time ever, a University Day was held with the participation of over sixty members. Russel Kett of HVS International elaborated on the subject of Hotel valuation and the influence of the GM in this respect.
Fridays programme commenced with the traditional welcome by outgoing President, Joern U. Sroka and the presentation of the Olympic Games by Spyros Capralos, Executive Director of the Athens 2004 Organization who explained the complexity of such a unique and international event and the challenges it presents to the organising committee and to the state in general.
The workshop continued with IMHI Professor Tom Cullen on The most interesting forces driving change in the Hospitality Industry for the next decade.
Professor Crist Inman of Cornell spoke about the 21st century GMs greatest challenge, a very interesting analysis of balancing Hospitality Management and Yield Management.
The Hotel Benchmark team of Deloitte, presented the European Year-End 2003 results, which to no ones surprise, was another challenging year for the European Hotel Industry due to the war in Iraq, the outbreak of SARS and the economic conditions in Europe.
Dean Van der Hoek of CHN University in Holland presented the strategy in practice whereby the participants observed that the biggest pay-off of the Strategy Process is competence development and performance improvement.
Chris Tzianos president of the meetings organizing committee happily commented that participation in this years Congress surpassed everyones expectations, thus rendering the event lively and interesting with enhanced networking and co-operation among members.
The 31st general meeting was concluded on Saturday with a visit to the Acropolis and the Gala Dinner at the historical newly restored Grande Bretagne Hotel during which the European Hotel Manager of the Year Award 2004 was presented to Francisco Alcaraz (Gran Hotel Bahia del Duque, Tenerife, Spain).
At the same time, during an emotional retrospective of the services and devotion to EHMA by outgoing President Joern U. Sroka, he was presented with a fairwell present and a warm and cheerful THANK YOU in many languages from the participants who gave him an extent applause and a rightful standing ovation.