Alex Filipski, a Moldova tourism bully

Alex Filipski, a Moldova tourism bully

In the spring of 2014 I  had the chance to meet Mr. Alex Filipski, from Philipsky Tour in Moldova, whom I will make an international star by writing this article. “Having the chance” to meet someone is very important, otherwise it is not that appropriate to share your opinions on a character unless you’re a literary critic or journalist. I must say that, at first, I did not get a very clear idea of Mr. Filipski during those couple of days. He did boast about owning the largest and most important tourism booking engine in the Republic of Moldova, the truth which I will let you verify.

Unfortunately, though, I did add mr. Filipski in my Facebook list at that time and started receiveing his feed updates and links to his blog. But who is really in the field of tourism this Mr. Filipski, from Chisinau, Republic of Moldova? Well, let us resume it in a few lines:

1. He is a person sustaining that there should be no difference between tour operator agencies and detail selling agencies. In this blog entry, mr. Filispki considers that all the tour operators in Moldova are state controlled (from the shadow) and he also proves that he does not even have the basic knowledge of the way travel markets work! A quotation is very significant in this case”(…) Adica cum dle? Ce trebuie sa facă o agentie de turism? Sa cumpere de la Tur-Operator? Iar acesta ce face Vinde cu acelasi preț si la Agentia de Turism si la Turist!!! Oare nu exista un scop ascuns aici de a lasa doar cativa Tur-Operatori pe Piața din Republica Moldova și de ai Inbogați făra a le permite celorlalti sa se dezvolte?”. In English, that would be resumed in the way that tour operators sell both to the end-clients as well as the detail selling agencies at the same rate! How does mr. Filipski negociate his rates with his suppliers, for God’s sake? Did he ever hear about the fact that in every civilized country a tour organizer has to prove the financial strength and show enough insurance, more than just reputation, in order to guarantee that in the worst case scenario, the tourist can receive assistance or get at least some of his money back?

I am not very sure why this frustration about the tour operators shown by Mr. Filipski, but one clue may be found in the fact that on the website of Philipsky Tour, the agency he is the CEO of and founder, one cannot find any of the following information: type of the agency, tourism licence, tourism insurance policy, quality certificates, IATA affiliation (Yes or No), any other affiliations to recognized national or international organizations. Would you work with such a provider?

2. Mr. Filipski clearly wants to get a public position. Thus, most of his public appearances which he shares over his blog or Facebook account contain direct attacks aimed at the policy of the National Tourist Agency of the Republic of Moldova. Nothing inappropriate till here. Mr. Filipski has all the right to use the freedom of speech he is entitled to. Unfortunately, mr. Filipski writes and behaves like a bully and totally unlike a real tourism professional. His way of writing (spelling mistakes included – many of them!), but mostly the way he addresses people who dare not to comply to his ideas or that are already occupying public positions. Rumors say that he has already directly “promised” mr. Nicolae Platon, who is leading the National Tourist Agency of the Republic of Moldova, that he will get him replaced from the position. From a straightforward and simple analysis of the behavior of Mr. Filipski one can easily see that he wants to get that job!

3. Mr. Filipski uses attacks on Mr. Platon and the tourism policy of the Republic of Moldova to get free advertising. Not being an “oligarch”, thus not having enough financial power to finance a proper advertising campaign in his country, mr. Filipski gets free air time and printing space from any television station or journalist hungry for a bit of scandal. He boasts about being the champion of incoming tourism in Moldova, but he’s never had any presence at any major international fair with any original product of Philipsky Tour. I am invited as a hosted buyer at most of these fairs and I’ve never seen him there.

Mr. Filipski is advertising Moldova in Moldova and he does not have any expertise in incoming tourism! There are up to  10 agencies in Moldova you can actually trust for your programs there. Philipsky tour is not there.  Mr. Filipski does not understand what is the current niche of tourists for the Republic of Moldova. It’s that simple.

4. Mr. Filipski does not understand that the state can no longer control the offers of the operators on the local market. Unfortunately for him, he does not understand that if his agency does not have access to the niche of customers affording regular rates for quality 4 or 5 stars holidays hotels in Turkey, Greece, Egipt, etc., that is not necessarily a bad thing. He stupidly tries to promote low cost offers by attacking the same National Tourism Agency and stating that it is its fault for the fact that large tour operators, both Russian or international, choose to promote, with their own money, the same destinations every year. If you know Romanian, have a laugh reading the article. The link is here. 

Just to make you understand, Mr. Filipski. The market works like this: Tez Tour, Thomas Cook, Mouzenidis – just to name some large ones, just like Paralela 45, Christian Tour, Fibula, Kusadasi – some of the Romanian ones, they book and guarantee rooms for destinations which provide quality and good rates. They have to sell these rooms and they do it on markets which are similar to each other. As most of the citizens of Republic of Moldova are bilingual in Russian or of Russian origin, where would you like the Russian targeted operators to sell their products? To Israel? The national tourism agency has nothing to do with the offer of outgoing tourism on a market! Anywhere in the world!

You are very much free to open new destinations and invest in them yourself, like you are trying to do with the Romanian market. Ask an advertising agency to draw you a media plan and get some money out of your pocket and develop it. This is what the tour operators in Romania and everywhere else in the world have been doing. A 40 EUR/ month mobile application cannot be called an investment.

And, because you need to be shown also an example of good practices in low cost holidays – those you promote so much-, take a look and learn from Europa Travel. They know what they sell and they do it with pride!

5. Mr. Filispki is doing his job as he knows it.

Please, dear colleagues, make a clear distinction between the actions and the way mr. Filispky does business in tourism in Moldova, and the professional agencies in Moldova. I have had the honor to work and meet a lot of travel professionals in Republic of Moldova. There are great opportunities there, especially for cultural tourism and discovery travel, and mostly for custom tours. 

Moldova is not a destination for mass tourism and should never become one. It would spoil its raw beauty.Take your quality tourists to Moldova, those which rank higher in your portfolios! Those who are willing to pay high rates at good hotels, but who want to get the attention and hospitality of true tour operator professionals. In case you may need help in finding the best agencies in Moldova, I will gladly give you a hand, but I am pretty sure you’ll meet them yourself at the best international exhibitions.

In the end of this post, I must say that I am neither a fan of Mr. Nicolae Platon, nor an adversary. I am merely a travel and communication professional who cannot stand a bully like Mr. Alex Filipski, from Philipsky Tour, as he goes over all the limits of basic education and attacks everyone who does not agree with his opinion. He is just frustrated that there is competition on the market! This is market economy!

I had to write this article, as Mr. Alexandru Filipski deleted my comments on his “ice bucket challenge” to Mr. Nicolae Platon, in which he was forgetting, once again, the basic rules of addressing a person who occupiers a public position, is older than him, and, truly, more experienced in the field of tourism than Mr. Filipski will be for a long time from now.

Clients of Romania Tourism Sales & Communication as Nominees at the Romanian Tourism Excellence Awards Ceremony

Clients of Romania Tourism Sales & Communication as Nominees at the Romanian Tourism Excellence Awards Ceremony

Evensys, the organizer of the Hotel Tourism Leisure Investment Conference in Bucharest announced on Wednesday, April 24th, 2014, the final nominees for the Excellence Awards in Romanian Tourism.

We, Romania Tourism Sales & Communication, are proud to have two clients on the final list:

You may see the complete list of nominees here: http://www.2014.hotelconference.ro/en/gala-finalisti.php

On the other hand, we must note a huge dissapointment at the fact that P.R. agencies listed as partners of the event have been publicly boasting about their customers being included in the nominees lists. This leaves us with a question either about their professionalism in representing their clients at the silent, effectivel level of true P.R., or about the correctness of the whole awards procedure.

On the list of nominees one may see that there are members of the jury. This also draws a series of huge question marks about the entire event. Have we gone back to that era where everyone gave praise to everyone, just to add some diploma to their portfolio?

Even worse, on the list of nominees for an “Exceptional contribution to the industry“, besides half of the jury, one may see a character who undoubtedly had no valuable contribution to the tourism industry in Romania, the former minister of tourism, mrs. Maria Grapini.

Moreover, our message to the organizers is to look outside Bucharest as well when promoting the event. Tourism in Romania is not done for, in and from Bucharest, but by Romanians, in Romania, for tourists. That is what we all sell in tourism and hospitality in Romania.

It’s only a Hampton by Hilton, Iasi!

It’s only a Hampton by Hilton, Iasi!

About a couple of weeks ago all the media in Iasi, the largest city and the economic center of north-east Romania, was getting “high” following this announcement  of Hilton Worldwide starting to operate a hotel in town. Still, it’s funny to me how nobody “greatly influent in the world of online” did not think about reading the official page of the chain. Maybe they don’t understand English?

I must admit that after seeing the overreactions of pure joy on Facebook of some self-called tourism P.R. specialists in town, I actually thought the news was worthwhile! Yes, Hilton was actually coming to town! Yes, finally we would have a four or five star hotel close to the newly opened International Hotel and that would boost competition, service quality and, of course, keep the rates around the real value of the market, not following the mood of just one player.

Well, as things clarify, it seemed that a snob way of reading (and publishing news) had been truly in action this time again. It was not a “Hilton” opening in Iasi, but a Hampton by Hilton!

For my fellow citizens who are not in the field of hospitality and who can only read the brand on the jeans, but not the label writing “Made in China”, please note that the difference between a “Hilton” hotel and a “Hampton, by Hilton” can be plainly described as “Dacia, by Renault”.

Rumours say that the former four-star Europa Hotel**** in Iasi, after “full renovation” of only about four or five months will only franchised and not managed by Hilton Worldwide, which leaves us asking ourselves whether the owners have actually committed themselves at raising the operational standards of their property – which wasn’t nearly as good as “average” among the local or national competitors.  Moreover, the hotel seems to have been planned for the three star category.

On the other hand, we will see a possible competition for the Ramada Iasi three-star hotel which is in the vicinity and which also is a strange case of “brand over classification matters in Iasi”.

In case I left some wonder why I am a little disappointed about their enthusiasm about the new Hampton by Hilton in Iasi, please read below and see if you can notice anything in the offer which you couldn’t find, as a standard, at a good rate and service, at the Unirea Hotel**** or even the three star economy hotels in town, like the Moldova***:

Here how the chain actually describes its brand:

Hampton by Hilton is a new kind of economy hotel with an upper mid-scale finish, offering quality facilities with a focus on service and a unique guest experience.

Hampton by Hilton is targeted for both the value conscious business traveller and the family leisure traveller seeking value. At Hampton we use a bundle value approach by offering quality amenities that guests truly want and need. Some of the Hampton by Hiltonamenities that are offered and are included in the price of the room are: an expanded complimentary breakfast with hot food items, high-speed Internet access, fitness facilitiesand a morning newspaper.

Sorry, but if I am to be excited in Iasi, give me a real reason, not a Hampton, by Hilton!

The Turkish Lesson, Again.

The Turkish Lesson, Again.

I had the privilege of being one of the only four hosted buyers from Romania invited at the Ace of M.I.C.E. exhibition which took place în Istanbul between 27 February and 2 March 2014 at the Istanbul Convention and Conference Centerand I came back from there experiencing an uncertain state of mind: both being glad for the successful event of our friends on the Bosphorus and being sad that nobody in the world really knows there actually exists a Romanian M.I.C.E. industry.

Since years, our colleagues în Turkey have been teaching us practical lessons in leisure tourism, but this time theAce of M.I.C.E. exhibition was not so much a demonstration – we all know the degree of development of the events industry in Turkey – as much as it was a showcase of the M.I.C.E. opportunities in Turkey.

I found the organizing and management of the event above my highest expectations,  taking into consideration that this is was the first edition of the event. There were some timing gaps indeed form what some of the buyers told me, but taking into consideration their number and the variety of the countries they came from (starting with Germany, Italy or the U.K., up to Russia or Azerbaidjan), this doesn’t take away any of the merits of the team.

With or without gaps, around 150 hosted buyers from around the world came to Istanbul, got a good look at the airport, experience the transfer services, the hotels, some venues, met potențial suppliers, got a relaxing networking party in a night club, visited the ciyt and did business. These are 150 potențial buyers who got to Turkey due to a private venture, supported by private business. It’s what Vali Constantin has been struggling to do for the last couple of years in Romania with his MICEPRO project. Unfortunately, we’re only a few people listening to him.

I really have to underline the clear target of this year’s edition: China. The Chinese presence was by far the most visible and valuable, including the importance of the corporations represented there by their procurement officers former or presently working for names like Microsoft or H.P. , among others. During the Chinese panel one of the guests, representing an important M.I.C.E. agency, made me understand that it is impossible for Romania to host even a mid-sized incentive from China, which would go around 1000 guests, which must be hosted în one or two hotels of the same category and quality and follow together the same schedule. Just imagine what nightmare it would mean to take them from the Henri Coanda Internațional Airport to Poiana Brașov! That besides the painful visa clearance process…

On the side of the exhibitors, the pleasant surprise was not only their number, as it was the variety of the activities they represented. There war more than hotels, resorts, venues, agencies or transportation companies there. At the Ace of M.I.C.E. exhibition the offer was completed by H.R. companies for temporary work, event animators, night clubs, stage equipment suppliers,  stand or advertising  and promotional materials production companies, P.R. companies, video production companies and security companies. You had it all in one place!

The conclusion I draw from such an exemplary presence of suppliers is that the antrepreneurs in Turkey understand the importance of the events industry and that it is a source of revenue, as well as an important economic niche and a branding resource.

Moreover, the high quality presence of strong private companies, whith important investments locked in the building of their stands, only demonstrates that the M.I.C.E. industry in Turkey is already profitable and this encourages a competition in quality. This is what real market economy is all about.

Yes, as I have already told the Turkish team behind the event, Turyzm Media Grubu, the first step was the right one at the Ace of M.I.C.E. exhibition in Istanbul, and the first objective of the project, that of facilitating encounters between peers, was achieved.

When will we have a natural event, internationally competitional, here in Romania? When will we really have a Romanian Convention Bureau which really exists by doing something?

Written for and published in: Travel Advisor, no.27/ March 2014.

A bit about the BIT

A bit about the BIT

BIT 2014 in Milan started in an unfortunate way for me, as you could read in my first post.

Still, I must admit that all in all, the fair was not that ridiculously bad organized as I had seen it during the transfer from the airport to Milan.

Surprisingly, the number of hosted buyers this year was greater than at the 2013 edition, the first one I was invited. On the other hand, the international presence of exhibitors at the fair was clearly weaker, while the Italian exhibitors also seemed to me less of quality than last year.

The organization all in all had a lot of flaws, although this year there was a better networking program than one year ago, but in the same time looked as if it had been a discrepancy between what had been planned on paper and the operational output. Hope the guys from Ventana Grup will work it out till next year. They seem to be a united team and the fact that I recognized quite a few of the faces of the young staff from last year means they could be together and correct the minuses till 2015, when the big EXPO should not leave any space for mistakes. Just think about the fact that 1 million Chinese tourists are expected especially for the Expo.

From my point of view I could find some interesting new partners, as I was mainly looking for incentive activities in northern Italy and city-break possibilities in the cities directly connected to Iasi via TAROM flights.

What never stops to surprise me about the Italiann providers in tourism is the stubborness with which they stick to their traditional and representative products. It’s not about the fear of innovation, but about the belief in the originality and quality of flagship touristic products: oenology, fine arts, motor sports history, landscapes and gastronomy, with a spice of winter sports. Pretty much, this is the offer of the Italian tourism actors.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a dull offer, but once you get one or two good partners there, there’s not much which can surprise you. Maybe that’s the direction the organizers should look into next year: innovation Italy. I am sure there are travel agencies or cities offering something else. If you know such providers, please do not hesitate to send us their details.

Motive pentru un Convention Bureau la Iași

Motive pentru un Convention Bureau la Iași

Ideea unui Convention and Visitors’ Bureau la Iasi nu este una pentru care imi doresc drepturi de autor, desi, din cate stiu eu, sunt singurul care a propus pana acum unui ales (folosind ideea de „elu”, termen atat de potrivit utilizat in limba franceza) un astfel de proiect. Asta s-a intamplat in luna martie a acestui an (2013). Continue reading

10 sfaturi pentru o bună expediţie de vânzări în hotelărie, când prospectezi pe Bucureşti, ca şef.

10 sfaturi pentru o bună expediţie de vânzări în hotelărie, când prospectezi pe Bucureşti, ca şef.

1. Identificaţi un număr mai mare cu 30% de clienţi abordabili decât vă propuneţi ca obiectiv. Unii vor intra în şedinţe.

2. Alegeţi să rămâneţi peste noapte într-un hotel de cel puţin aceeaşi categorie cu a celui pe care îl vindeţi. Noblesse oblige.

3. Nu vă bazaţi pe parfumul de firmă. Înainte de prima întâlnire, faceţi un early check-in şi faceţi un duş, beţi o cafea.

4. Harta e sfântă. Ştim că aveţi GPS, dar dacă nu ştiţi să citiţi o hartă, vă plimbaţi pe lângă Hala Matache de o luaţi razna!

5. Harta e şi mai sfântă. Planificaţi-vă singuri sau cu echipa, înainte de a porni la drum, opririle. MARCAŢI pe hartă punctele, pe zone.

6. Nu mergeţi de două ori pe acelaşi traseu. Veţi acoperi mai mulţi clienţi aşa. Aici intervine punctul 5.

7. Nu stabiliţi ore clare de întâlnire. Mai bine folosiţi fraza: „Până la ce oră vă găsesc?”. Vă veţi pierde cu siguranţă în Bucureşti, pentru că nu aţi respectat punctul 5.

8. Bani de protocol. Nu veţi afla câţi bani are în cont rivalul de afaceri în timpul programului de la 9 la 17 al celui care îi gestionează contul.

9. Vizitaţi-vă prietenii. Ei ştiu mai bine decât voi pentru ce informaţie va fi nevoie să daţi de băut…

10. Nu încercaţi să obţineţi mai mult decât ce s-a stabilit iniţial privind întâlnirea.

P.S.

11. Orice aţi face noaptea, până târziu, la ora 9 să fiţi în picioare. Exemplu pentru echipă! 🙂

Cum vindem Iașiul?

Cum vindem Iașiul?

Turişti în Iaşi? Pentru ce? Hai să nu ne mai amăgim singuri cu apa rece a frumoasei şi parfumatei istorii a „mirobolantei” foste capitală de principat! Din păcate, sau mai bine spus din fericire, turistul modern nu mai umblă de nebun ca să vadă „pietre”, aşa cum al naibii de potrivit spunea mama Continue reading