IDEEA Podcast Episode 13: Gorjan Lazarov, Orea Hotels & Resorts

Published: 04 April 2023

In our first podcast of IDEEA 2023 and 13th episode of IDEEA podcast series, we speak with Gorjan Lazarov, CEO, Orea Hotels & Resorts, one of the most renowned hotel brand in Prague. With a focus on creating a consistent brand experience for guests, the company has invested heavily in repositioning its brand and improving the customer experience. This strategy has paid off, resulting in a record year in terms of financial performance and guest satisfaction.

One of the unique selling points of Orea Hotels & Resorts is their commitment to retaining happy staff members. Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the company kept staff employed and salaries at 100%, a decision that the CEO attributes to the company's commitment to core values. This has resulted in a team of dedicated employees who are passionate about delivering a great guest experience.

As the company looks to the future, they are open to both ownership and management models and are exploring the possibility of expanding regionally or internationally while maintaining a consistent brand experience for customers. The CEO acknowledges the challenges posed by global uncertainties such as the energy crisis and inflation, but remains optimistic about the company's future.

Overall, Orea Hotels & Resorts is a company that is transforming the hospitality industry through its focus on creating a great guest experience and retaining happy staff members. As the company continues to grow and expand, it will be interesting to see how they navigate the challenges of the global climate while maintaining their commitment to core values and a consistent brand experience.

Marina Franolic (00:00:00) - Welcome to the IDEEA podcast, a channel for the Idea Hospitality Investment Forum, which is an annual gathering for the hospitality investment community in Eastern Europe. Tune in to insightful conversations between the Idea team and hospitality investment leaders and innovators across Europe. And now let's dive right into today's episode.

Gorjan Lazarov (00:00:24) - Hi, good and welcome. So we joined you this year to be the advisory board for IDEEA Hospitality, the investment conference that will be taking place in Prague, September. Can you tell us a little bit about so you're CEO of Orea Resorts. Can you tell us what is available in resorts and what actually 2022 meant for you as a business?

Gorjan Lazarov (00:00:54) - Thank you. Thanks for your vision. Orea is the largest Czech hotel brand. We have some business destinations and right now we have, what else? Resort destinations of the Czech Republic and within its pilothouse. We have mainly hotels that are built in the 80s. We have been transforming the brand and the customer experience.

Gorjan Lazarov (00:01:24) - 2020 for us was a record year from a financial perspective, but as well for all guest experience. So this is a very much fall as well in terms of motivation of employees. This is another that we have been measuring regularly because we believe in a very simple model. Automated employees make what has to be customer service returning back, and that means that we have invested heavily into the reposition repositioning of the brand or into the products or 1 billion short rounds, 40 million us. And we have done all of our business and resorts then all its struck. Basically we see that customers value the work we have done in with their returning and that our value for money is distinct.

Gorjan Lazarov (00:02:17) - When you say guest expectations have increased, what does that mean?

Gorjan Lazarov (00:02:23) - Well, guest expectations are to believe that has been consistently increasing. Think that what has changed with Covid is the fact that we don't consider traveling anymore as something as a luxury that we go see more as a necessity or what be what.

Marina Franolic (00:02:50) - People want to travel. Okay, so you have 24,000 Czech Republic. Where do you see array of athletes in five years has done a be staying just in that country. Are you looking to expand? What are you looking to expand?

Gorjan Lazarov (00:03:05) - We started with 13 properties and our four focus cores, the repositioning of the brand. I think that this has been accomplished. We have slowly, let's say, expanded in order to as well learn from these approaches. I think that there is an opportunity in the market because the market is fragmented and we moved, especially as a local brand. In five years, I would probably see far more significant goals and the number of profiles in the Czech Republic.

Gorjan Lazarov (00:03:54) - And the thing is we are increasing our relationship with the customers and the number of happy customers that we could add to some properties as well.

Marina Franolic (00:04:03) - And so it's within within the the five year goal. And you say outside of of Czech Republic as well. Do you have any ideas? Where would you like to expand?. So would you like to when you say you see company expanding, would you stick to this one? Could you owned? Do you have the capacity or what is the capacity of ownership? Because that is a significant step towards significant amount of financing that you need to have as well as your own the money. So would you stick to this model or you want to go maybe to the operators?

Gorjan Lazarov (00:04:49) - We definitely want to develop, right? So and we look at it from both perspectives so we get the growth. That's where I have 18 phone purchases. We're adding novelties to the portfolio that conforms as a modern portfolio brand.

Gorjan Lazarov (00:05:05) - However, we have recently added models that we don't go, we retire. There are more borders. So we kept both sides where we think that we created a lot of value. Is the brand side and the relationship with the customer. We are very positive. We're very cautious into not growing at any price because of the fact that we want to have some custom branded vehicles that with the little tool or to the customers. And because we obviously owned some assets that carry.

Marina Franolic (00:07:13) - Okay. I'll go back now to your first testimony. Said you really focused on having to be start in person. How do you do that? Because everything that you been hearing in the industry is that lack of stuff is a challenge. It is a big problem today that you keep saying that you actually have had steps up. Is there a secret?

Gorjan Lazarov (00:07:35) - Well, I think I think it is sticking through to the core values.

Gorjan Lazarov (00:07:40) - I think that what helped us it is one of the one of the belongings, let's say, of of Covid that may have solved it. And it was obviously a very difficult time for us because opening where we are in artificial breeding basically for for two years. But we have believed that malicious decision, not particularly stable either or. We have made a decision to keep the salaries of 100% and it costs us some money, not with it all, but it is an investment that we carried currently in terms of restarts during Covid. And if you look 2022, it was completely worth it because he created a bond between the company and the staff. So if you look at the industry, yes, I think the committee invested a lot and we have a challenge in general in the South. However, I think that we are probably only above average in terms of being able to to keep the the relationship and due to this attract as well for us. Okay.

Marina Franolic (00:08:44) - So everything sounds quite well, to be honest.

Marina Franolic (00:08:48) - Is there anything that keeps you up at night?

Gorjan Lazarov (00:08:52) - Well, I think that yeah, lots of sleepless lies. Well, since Covid recently and once it ended and the crisis in Ukraine, which is still still there, the energy crisis, the inflation and everything, I think that if if I look at it that globally, how long our world will will change. And what would this have as an impact in terms of our day to day operation, Whether we were we were sort of like all used to to work in a globalized world, a world basically becoming a global village. We see a division style, and let's see whether this religious world will further grow or we would be just something that you'd be overcome and the world will still then continue to develop the wineries.

Marina Franolic (00:09:40) - But then. Thank you. Well, I'm looking forward to hearing more from you in September. Take a solid.

Gorjan Lazarov (00:09:47) - Thank you very much.

Marina Franolic (00:09:49) - Thank you for listening to the IDEEA podcast, the channel for the Idea Hospitality Investment Forum. You can find a full transcript of this conversation in the Content Library on Idea forum with other reports and insights.

Marina Franolic (00:10:04) - We look forward to welcoming you and your colleagues in person at Ideo in Prague on the 18th through 20th of September 2023. If you haven't registered yet, please go to our forum to purchase your pass today and save before ticket prices increase. Please feel free to email us with any questions at Hello at the bench until the next episode. Stay safe and keep well.