Polish growth is slowing down

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… But still above zero.

According to the data from the Main Statistical Office, Polish economy is still growing and is one of very few green spots on the map of Europe (hence the above colourisation), the economic situation considered.

This trend is also confirmed by the hoteliers, who even report growth year-over-year.

We asked several owners and operators what could possibly be the cause of this “strange” situation, compared to the rest of the market.

In most cases the answers were rather complex, but there were several factors repeated by most of our respondents, among which were:

  • The Polish economy was not severely affected by financial crisis
  • The Polish currency exchange rate dropped, rendering our country more attractive to foreign travellers
  • A relatively strong domestic travel market
  • Availability of EU funds for training, usually organized in hotels

Looking at the hospitality investment market, we notice a remarkable slow-down, mainly related to limitations in financing, as loan action in still “on-hold” in most financing institutions. In spite of that, however, we observe new hotels opening their doors for guests.

Last week two four-star hotels opened: one in Lodz (Central Poland) and one in Gdansk (Northern Poland).  Both of chain hotels, but you can also see activity from independent investors trying to explore new opportunities in the condo hotel market.

There are also several big projects on way, such as the Hilton Garden Inn and the Sheraton Lake Resort.

There is one very meaningful factor, which can push investors to be more active on the Polish hospitality market. At the moment Poland has average an average of five hotel rooms per 1000 inhabitants, while European the average is above 20 rooms per 1000.

To summarise there is still a lot to do, and the best time to start is now, for those interested in preparing for the summer of 2012, when Poland, together with Ukraine,  is to host the European Football Championship.

Be more effective in sales – and get ready for tough times

The first reaction to a difficult market situation is cost-reduction, and the first area, where management usually wants to cut is the training and development budget.

Looking back at Q3 last year I remember a lot of discussion on which way the business was headed and whether the rule of savings on education would be confirmed once more.

What actually happened? Hoteliers want to learn, especially how to sell more, how to be more profitable and optimize costs, which I find very encouraging.

There is still a lot to do in the area of sales and marketing techniques, analysing effects and forecasting. The Polish hospitality market is not matured yet, and there is still a huge potential in better usage of on-line marketing tools and revenue management strategies.

Of course, if there is a demand, businesses will be established in response, but the question is if the available educational opportunities are reasonable and give hoteliers the expected volume of know-how.

Different instructors, different subjects, different levels of quality and hoteliers can take their decision based on their feelings and experience. Therefore, establishing a structure which could offer high-quality education programmes, standardised and based on international independent organisations are really necessary, which is where I see a part to play for associations such as HSMAI.

The question is what the members can get for their membership fee, and how the association’s programme fit local conditions. Surely there is a gap on the market, the very potential market, and the first organisation deciding to invest here will be successful and can treat Poland as its footprint in CEE region.

Taking the current situation on the market into consideration, as well as the positive climate for personnel development, the time is now, as Polish hoteliers need the know-how and a way to survive in more challenging times.