There are various challenges for those who run or want to run a company in the tourism industry in Mani, Peloponnese. Some of the most important are to strengthen the cooperation between different organizers and invest in broader areas instead of individual villages. This is something that Ilias Moutzouris, co-owner of the tourist facility, Mani Apartments (photos below), thinks.
When we met Ilias Moutzouris, we felt at once: when open minded people meet, magic is born! After the presentation of our own concept, Ilias showed us the facility and the houses. We also heard about all the development plans he and his family have for the facility. I asked if we could stay longer to make an intervju. It was a memorable afternoon.
Running a company in the tourism industry in Greece: interview with Ilias Moutzouris
EK: You and your family have been one of the first to believe in the idea of running a rental business in the area?
Correct! It is my mother who is from the area and the land belonged to her family for several generations. When my parents got married and my father decided to build a family house with rental potential here, everyone frowned.
Historically, it was always dangerous to live near the sea: the pirates often attacked and plundered households on everything. So the land by the sea was not worth much, and if in addition the land lacked olive trees, then it was only a loss to own the land!
Fortunately, when my father, Georg, started building a house, together with his still skeptical father-in-law, they were both visited by a German gentleman. The German lord wanted to buy the land for one hundred million drachmas! “Hmmm, Georg, you may be right!” Said the skeptical father-in-law, “We are building some apartments for rent.” So the first house was built in 1992 and was during the first years a holiday home that we all longed for.
EK: And the facility is still a family business?
Yes! Both my mother, father, brother, me and my future wife work here. Here at Mani, we strongly believe in family-owned companies: it is a guarantee of honesty, flexibility and stability. And maybe even for passion, love and respect for your job: you do not want to throw away the successes that your father and grandfather worked with, do you?
EK: You have worked as a manager for the facility for 10 years, are certified in medical microbiology and your future wife, who is now part of the company, is a pharmacist. You both worked in Athens in your profession but chose to settle in Mani and work with “Apartments in Mani”. Why?
There will be no short answer to your question and I think my answers will be similar to your and Elias’ reasons for moving from Sweden. First of all: the stress level in big cities is now really completely insane! You also need to compromise on how and where you live and who you work for. for Here my wife and I can enjoy breakfast together, sunsets and short rest periods: it is only a few minutes to the quiet beauty of nature!
And of course, both you and we want to deliver happiness and balance to other people, right? I remember my own summers in this place: I was so perfectly happy here. And free. My biggest wish is that our guests should feel the same here: be happy and well taken care of. I also know that with my and my wife’s background, we can contribute to a healthier and more modern development both for our own company but also for the entire tourism in Mani. People here are strong and independent. But if you win their trust, if you are a “good” person, they will help you with most things!
When you are “inside”, the contacts between contractors are so much easier compared to working in Athens. Or in Sweden. Do you agree with me? Did you know that it is only in recent years that people used to sign contracts here: only 10 years ago, it was handshake that applied when you wanted to do business.
EK: Haha, I absolutely do! And I noticed a lot more modern thinking in your company: including when it comes to recycling.
You’re probably referring to George’s vegetable growing? Greeks are generally bad at recycling and composting. We invested quite early in recycling and composting. Today, our compost is used for our own vegetable farms in the area. Everything grown is given to the guests: you can quite easily go and pick tomatoes for breakfast or eggplant for the grill!
EK: Is it true that you are pre-booked 2-3 years ahead?
Yes it is true! The facility has been around for so long that now no special marketing is required: the returning guests book 2-3 years in a row! And that is the best guarantee for you who are here for the first time, right? Then we always have some gaps in the calendar during the high season and we hope that with your help we can work up exciting proposals for longer stays and offers that are suitable for Swedish visitors.
EK: I hope so! There is a lot of competition in the market when it comes to rental properties. What do you think today’s tourist visitors are looking for and how, in your opinion, will tourism in Mani develop in the future?
I am convinced that the new generation of tourists is looking for opportunities to be undisturbed and to feel at home in the places they visit. Personal service and contact as well as tips on what they can do in the local area. More human to human than search engine behavior. And when we talk Mani: it’s a little fast now! We need to strengthen the cooperation between different organizers and be careful not to overload the area. Dare to say no to all inclusive holidays!