Keeping with the Trends - Brand Director of Kerten Hospitality

Georgia’s popularity in terms of the hospitality industry is increasing rapidly, seeing different major companies operating in the field entering the country’s market. Kerten Hospitality, one of the largest and the most important players of the hospitality industry, is preparing to launch in Georgia.

GEORGIA TODAY sat down with Antony Doucet, Brand, Marketing and Community Director of Kerten Hospitality, to gauge the success of the company and find out about the upcoming plans for Georgia. “Our group launched eight years ago in Turkey where we opened a few hotels. Our strategy is to introduce ourselves to those markets which have dynamic relations with Turkey. There are a lot of people traveling from Turkey to Georgia and vice versa. Therefore, Georgia was of natural interest to us,” he tells us. “Tbilisi and Georgia as a country in general have become more important on the world tourism map and one of the go-to destinations,” he continues. “In addition, we had some connections here who invited us to launch our products in Georgia.”

The Kerten Hospitality Brand Director notes the high potential and opportunities in Georgia for attracting a great number of travelers from the Middle East. We asked Antony his opinion regarding Georgia’s potential to become a must-visit destination for tourists from other regions. “With the democratization of travel worldwide, Georgia is still very under discovered. There is a huge opportunity for Europeans and Americans to discover something new. And in the case of Georgia, the reality certainly exceeds expectations,” he tells us.

Along with the business prospective of Georgia, we were also intrigued to discover his views of the country itself.

“This is my 6th or 7th visit to Georgia,” he says with a smile. “And I have only visited Tbilisi and the region of Kakheti so far. The food is absolutely amazing; the wine is fantastic, the architecture is beautiful, and the people very nice, genuine and hospitable. The people are warm and we are excited to introduce our guest-centric company culture on the market,” he told us, adding that the idea of combining Georgia and Turkey for wine and gastro tourism is also on the agenda.

“There are three projects we plan to carry out in Georgia: a small boutique hotel in the heart of Tbilisi, boasting 17 rooms and restaurants, which is to be opened at the beginning of next year. Our aim there is to show off the authentic Georgian culture- although there are many popular and famous sights citywide, we aim to offer guests a more authentic and unique experience. We also have House Hotel and Residence Vake coming up, a mixed-use project combining office, restaurant, hotel and residence, set to be launched at the end of 2020. We are also moving beyond the capital and building a hotel with 80 rooms in Kakheti, featuring a contemporary art museum and set among vineyards, with an active wine cellar right underneath. We want to give Georgians a pleasant weekend escape from the busy capital and to attract different conferences, forums and exhibitions, as well as gastro tourism events.”

In addition to their three development projects, as part of its growth portfolio in Georgia, Kerten Hospitality plans to launch their own gourmet burger brand Frikadell in Georgia soon. This will be the first gourmet burger concept and is to redefine the burger ordering and delivery process for digital-savvy foodies across the country. “Burger-lovers will be able to create their own burger using our own burger-building app,” Antony told us.

We ask him to tell us more about the Kakheti project. “Our Georgian partner has land in Kakheti and it was his dream to build a modern art museum in the region,” he tells us, and can’t help but mention his appreciation for the food in the region too. “In Kakheti, I was made BBQ pork ribs with salt in the middle of the vineyard. Those were the best pork ribs I have ever had.”

We also ask the Brand Director about his expectations on succeeding in terms of domestic tourists. “Our success with Georgians varies in accordance with the concept of our projects. The hotels are mostly targeted to international guests, while we are to offer a unique experience in restaurants and gastronomy for our Georgian clientele,” he tells us.

We next ask how Kerten Hospitality keeps us with the ever-changing trends.

“You embrace the technological changes, but you have to be very careful at the same time, because as soon as you introduce new technology, there is yet another novelty in the sector. You also need to implement the right technology in accordance with the concept and size of the business. It is vital not to be dependent on technologies and to be customer-oriented.”

We moved on to discuss the mixed-use projects he had mentioned. “Through the mixed-use projects, we want to propose people owning land or a building; a flexible service integrating different facilities in the same area. We also guarantee guests and residents traffic. The mixed-use projects contribute to the creation of an eco-system to work and utilize other options for a property that are beneficial for the customer, as well as the owner,” he says.

Antony Doucet is a known figure in the hospitality industry, having launched various brands while working at Kerten Hospitality. We ask him about his success.

“We always follow and challenge the development of the hospitality industry and its trends, taking into account the increasing importance of offices and residences, as well as food and beverage in the sector, and add new options to our portfolio. We have eight brands in the pipeline. I manage four of them. If we want to succeed, it is of paramount importance not to replicate the concepts that are already present on the market and to offer clients a unique experience,” Antony says.

We discover Antony also delivers lectures and workshops in Luxury Hospitality in Turkey. As he teaches the new generation, we ask where he sees the hospitality industry in 10 years. “60% of my presentations are workshops and practice rather than formal lectures. As for the future of hospitality, I think we’ll see more mixed-use projects in the future. We are generating huge data from customers. Its appropriate use represents one of the most important criteria for the future of the hospitality industry.”

On a final note we asked Antony about the challenges the industry is facing: “There are many cities where locals protest against tourism. Georgia may also face this problem, particularly Tbilisi, which represents an ‘entry door.’ That said, there is so much to discover across the country aside from the capital that I think the government and the private sector should emphasize the development of other regions.”

By Ketevan Kvaratskheliya

24 June 2019 18:01