5 professionals talk about how COVID affected their projects

View of Oia from Thirassia

COVID is still the reality of our days. Almost everywhere the virus is currently affecting our daily life, it won’t be here forever but it will have an impact on us. Sometimes changes need time, some others they happen quickly. Probably the most resourceful skill right now is adaptability plus a squirt of creativity.
As already documented in the first part of my interviews, many professionals working in the travel industry found themselves without any business all of a sudden. And still, they don’t really know what’s going to happen next year.

It’s very stimulating to read that everyone, after the initial shock, set up their business to work out in a new light. Collaboration also seems to be the key, we are in this together and the only way to hack it is to hook up with other projects and support each other.

Emmanouela and Manos, property owners in Serifos

2020 was a difficult time for all the tourist accommodation industry but Emmy and Manos decided not to feel sorry for themselves and to use the past summer in a productive and creative way. Captain’s House, a beautiful villa on the island of Serifos, became the hub for creatives such as videographers, travel bloggers, life coaches, artists building hip synergies that inspired Emmy and Manos for the future of their adventure.

Maybe it is a chance for travellers to be more conscious about their choices and truly connect with their destination and the people they meet. “Don’t be a tourist, be a traveller” is a motto we really support and we are optimistic that it will be the case adopted by more and more people in the future.

This summer motivated Emmy and Manos for the future of Captain’s House, to evolve into something even more precious. The beautiful house has a poignant story and indulges its guests to a more authentic connection with the island. The couple is planning new thematic experiences to offer to add even more value to their guests stay.

Emmy and Manos did not have time to travel this summer for a second reason too: they harvested their family old vineyards and they will have a small production of homemade wine to share with their guests in 2021 and I really hope to be one of these lucky people!

Follow and support Emmanouela and Manos
Book your stay at the Captain’s House
Follow on Instagram @captainshouseserifos and on Facebook

Veronika, yoga teacher and hostel owner in Santorini

I know personally Veronika and she’s one of my hero in Santorini: she’s a young woman, yoga teacher, wife and mother of two and manager of the best hostel in Santorini. She’s one of the most productive and creative people I know.
This year the hostel suffered from COVID restrictions, bookings were for more days but last minute, making it impossible to forecast the season so Veronika found herself to take care of the day-to-day life of the place not being able to hire more staff. On the contrary and at the same time her work as a yoga teacher grew.

As a yoga teacher I worked more than ever, many people started practicing yoga in lockdown. For many of my guests I was their first yoga teacher they met in real life. Many of the classes were in a form of private mini retreats, when we practiced and progressed over several days. 

In difficult times collaboration is the key, Veronika had the idea to cross-market with various hostels in Greece, to build a network of good hostels at various locations in the country and offer a small discount on direct bookings that come through the referrals. And this winter Caveland will welcome travelers and digital nomads who are looking for a place to live for a longer period of time.

And because she’s unstoppable, Veronika found the time to launch her own clothing brand, with the first product being the cutest sustainable Santorini leggings ever.

Follow and support Veronika:
Check out her hostel in Santorini, Caveland
Follow her on Instagram @santoriniyoga

Kristof and Nimi, cooking classes and property owners in Methana

Meeting Kristof and Nimi in real life has been on my bucket list for a while. They live in Methana, they run cooking (and vegan!) classes and culinary trips plus renting a beautiful studio. The first lockdown (and currently the second one) affected their plans but they were not discouraged. They started to teach one on one cooking classes, team building cooking workshops for companies, minimal waste, social media, digital nomad, self-employed creative, and plant-based living coaching online. They also launched a Facebook project supporting local small businesses, where they ask their followers to take photos of their favourite take out taverna food and write a summary of why they love the place.

  As much the pandemic itself is a horrific thing to happen, and as much tourism industry struggles at the moment, in the big picture this can be a direction that is helping Earth to regain it’s power and helps humanity to adapt to the slow life movement, known to be a natural antidepressant. 

I love reading their stories from Methana. Kristof and Nimi mostly travel locally (they even have a small oldie speed boat!) and often you can see them exploring Aegina, Perdika, Moní, Agistri, Nafplio, Epidauros or Poros.
In the summer they also went to Tuscany to teach a vegan cooking class booked a year before deciding to respect the obligation and to support Italy, no matter how bad reputation it got throughout the first wave: sticking together and supporting each other is the only way to overcome the situation, this is their motto.

Support Kristof and Nimi projects:
Check their website
Follow them on Instagram @kristofsteiner and @nimrogadan
Enjoy their youtube channel

Spyros, photographer in Santorini

Santorini is a popular wedding destination and there are many wedding photographers on the island, Spyros is one of the best! He has a very personal storytelling style and his portraits are quite cinematic. This year weddings were cancelled and the ‘photo-session market’ is mainly an American, Canadian, Australian business. Spyros was highly affected by the pandemic, wisely decided to drop his rates in order to target travelers from Europe and had to find a second job, for the first time, as a support income.

Spyros thinks that a more conscious way of traveling is needed, many people will feel vulnerable to travel abroad and they will prefer the comfort and safety of the places they call home.

A lot of people travel and follow the trends promoted through social media about destinations and lifestyle. I don’t believe that this would change soon, but I would love to see people thinking more consciously about traveling and taking into consideration the sustainability of the places they choose to visit and explore. Overall, I strongly believe that the current situation will bring new opportunities in the travel industry. Fresh ideas will emerge through the following years which will set sustainability as the greatest factor of an investment, however big or small it might be.

Spyros is now rebranding his company NorthtoSouth Photographer and creating an online identity that will promote and focus more on traveling: a travel blog and possibly off the beaten path tours on the Greek Islands for small groups, showcasing the local identity of each island, including activities that will bring travelers closer to nature and the Greek culture.
At the moment Spyros is running a beautiful project about the locals in Santorini, you can check out his Instagram account and you will find a small surprise (me!).

Follow and support Spyros:
Check out his website
Follow him on Instagram @northtosouth_photographer and @s_ples

Sofia, yoga retreats in Greece

Starting a new business in the middle of a pandemic might be tricky. Soulbreeze Yoga Retreats stubbornly was born under this circumnstances thanks to Sofia’s passion and dream. Sofia’s retreats are journeys of healing, self care and self love, all things that everyone of us need right now.
Sofia put together an offer at a lower price and to fully refund people who felt not to travel this summer, empathising with them. At the same time she felt the need to start this new project and she came up with the idea of running weekend-long Online Retreats around the Full and New Moon.

I was so determined and wanted to do retreats and start my business, because of my strong passion to make my dream come true. I knew it would be a tough year, but I also knew that this was a time more than ever that people needed to purposefully travel and I could offer that, the purpose in their travelling experience.

Sofia was able to run two live retreats in Greece and two online! She also teaches private yoga classes, online meditation healing sessions and tailor-made holistic healing programs that she will launch officially at the beginning of the New Year! It takes guts to start something new when everything else is falling apart, Sofia did it organically, without putting pressure on herself and it’s working! Well done girl, I am your supporter!

Follow and support Sofia
Check out her retreats in Greece and online
Follow her Instagram @soulbreezeretreats

Here are three ways you can support all these business:

  • Follow them on social media
  • Subscribe to their newsletter if they have to be updated for the future
  • If you can, make a special gift for Xmas to someone in love with Greece

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