Interview with… inVOYAGE 2020 partner Horizon DMC

inVOYAGE is thrilled to announce the appointment of Horizon as exclusive DMC partner for the 2020 event in Mykonos. The Horizon team, headed up by president & CEO Aristides Tsaldaris, will support inVOYAGE on event logistics and contribute to a programme that showcases the very best of what Greece’s most famous island has to offer event planners.

To celebrate the partnership, we took the opportunity to catch up with Aristides on Horizon, all things Greece, and industry trends….

It’s great to have you on board as our DMC partner for 2020. Can you tell us more about Horizon?

The DMC was founded back in 1948 and we’re still a family-owned business. We originally built our reputation in the North American market in the 60s, when the world of incentives became very popular in the corporate American market, before expanding into the European market in the 80s and more recently Latin America.

I got involved with the business in 1984 after finishing my studies and officially took over running it when my father passed away in 1998. We have diversified over the last 12 to 15 years and as well as our core DMC offer, we have several subsidiary companies – an event company called Event Plus and transportation and production-focused companies. We have also bought shares in five DMCs based on the Greek Islands of Mykonos, Rhodes, Corfu, Santorini and Crete to create a network of DMCs that offer a uniform service. They act as our local teams within those destinations.

What’s your USP?

What differentiates us from our competitors is our expansion into these different areas which enables us to offer clients a complete range of destination management, event management, performance improvement tools, staffing, production, entertainment and transportation services. In many cases, the suppliers we are using are our own companies, which makes us cost-effective and able to control the uniformity of service and the philosophies of Horizon.

We also have an in-house quality assurance specialist, who is responsible for ensuring quality of service for our team and suppliers and pride ourselves on always answering our clients in their mother tongue wherever possible.

What are you most excited about for inVOYAGE 2020?

The event will give us the opportunity to showcase Greece as a destination and our vast experience as a DMC to the international event community. The global focus of inVOYAGE fits perfectly with our approach to focus on multiple markets. It will be like hosting multiple fam trips from different markets all at the same time – the fact that we can bring so many key people together will provide us with maximum exposure.

What can our 2020 inVOYAGERs expect from Mykonos?

Mykonos is one of the best islands in Greece if not the Mediterranean. It’s a very cosmopolitan destination that can serve the different needs of potential clients around the world whether they are planning a meeting or incentive. There are lots of things to do there – from teambuilding and spas to quality restaurants and nightclubs, plus plentiful stunning venues overlooking the sea. The Myconian properties where inVOYAGE are going to be held are also amazing.

Greece has been named as a top incentive destination for 2020 by Global DMC Partners. Why do you think it’s so in vogue at the moment?

The travel industry here was reset after financial crisis. Hotel rates went down and we became a more value for money destination. At the same time, we have seen investment in new infrastructure – air, road and rail – and a lot of new hotels opening with several major international hotel brands making their debut. We didn’t have a Four Seasons or Hyatt before and both of those opened in Athens recently. I have to add that it helps our cause that some of our competitive destinations such as Turkey, Egypt and Tunis are off the map for MICE at the moment. But that said, the Ministry of Tourism and convention bureau in Athens have done a good job at promoting the destination too.

Apart from Mykonos, what are the other key hotspots?

Obviously, Athens has become a very popular destination. People were avoiding it a couple of years ago, but they are coming back. It helps that we have an incentive-minded mayor who is not just focused on leisure travel but keen to open ecological sites and privatise venues for event groups.

Athens is one of the only capitals you can sell in Europe as a resort destination as well as city. We have the Athens Riviera just 25-30 minutes from the centre, which is where the new Four Seasons is located. It also lends itself well to a twin-centre trip – Athens plus an island such as Mykonos or Santorini.

The great thing about Greece is it’s not all about Athens – we have multiple destinations to suit a variety of tastes and budgets. 

What trends are you seeing you are seeing in the luxury events and incentives market for 2020?

I think that budgets are staying approximately the same but what I am seeing is that some clients are preferring to spend a bit less on the accommodation and more on the experience, for example privatising an amazing venue and putting on an unforgettable dinner. Local experiences are also becoming more popular, so for example we can organise for groups to have dinner with a typical Greek family in their home and cook and eat local food with them and learn about the Greek way of life.

Although it’s not new, we are definitely seeing an increased interest from clients to incorporate sustainability and CSR into their events.

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