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Emel Elik Bezaroğlu: ''We Set Out to Reach 50 Hotels by 2030''

Issue 22 - 2024
Emel Elik Bezaroğlu: ''We Set Out to Reach 50 Hotels by 2030''

 Şebnem Akalın: First of all, thank you for your time. Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and the history of your hotels?

Emel Elik Bezaroğlu: I am the Board Member Responsible for Sales and Marketing at Elite World Hotels. For 23 years, I have been working in Elite World Resorts & Hotels, mainly in the sales and marketing departments, and for the last ten years, I have also been responsible as a Board Member in our chain.

The Elite World brand was born in 2002 with our hotel in the Taksim Talimhane area, which we serve today under the name Elite World Comfy Istanbul Taksim. However, our family's hotel business history dates back to 1976 when we opened the Tahran Hotel in Van. Today, as Elite World with eight brands, 11 hotels, and a nearly 5,000-bed capacity, we bring Turkish hospitality together with guests from all over the world. Five of our hotels are in Istanbul, Van, Sapanca, Marmaris, Samsun, Samsun, and finally, Kuşadası, which we will open in June this year. Our goal is to become a chain located in 7 regions of Turkey.

 Şebnem Akalın: The damage caused by the pandemic in aviation was remedied very quickly, and the number of passengers started to increase compared to the years before the pandemic. We assumed that these passengers had accommodation needs in the countries they went to, and we thought that the tourism sector recovered at the same speed. However, as far as we understand, this has not been the case; illegal stays have caused the industry to take a slight blow. What would you like to say about this issue?

Emel Elik Bezaroğlu: As Elite World, we completed 2023 in line with our targets. However, we can say that these figures are not parallel to the increased tourist traffic after the pandemic and the increase in tourists coming to our country. In 2023, although the number of foreign visitors to our country increased by 11 percent, hotel occupancy rates, especially in metropolitan cities such as Istanbul, decreased compared to the previous year. Renting houses for tourism purposes was effective, and tourism operators suffered from this situation. If this situation had not occurred, we could have broken a record in 2023 with higher occupancy and profitability rates. 

However, we hope that with the " Regulation of the Activities for the Renting of Houses for Tourism Purposes," revised and entered into force as of 1 January 2024, inspections and regulations will be more controlled, and this situation will be overcome.

 Şebnem Akalın: You have recently introduced a new hotel management concept for Turkey and started to open hotels with different concepts under your own name. And can you explain briefly what kind of diversity this difference will offer your guests?

Emel Elik Bezaroğlu: Trends in tourism are changing very rapidly. We make our plans in line with these trends, develop new products to meet the needs, and invest in these areas. 

Until 2024, we responded to these demands with our four brands, Elite World Grand, Elite World, Elite World Comfy, and Elite World GO, in different segments such as economy, medium, upper, and luxury. As of this year, we have added four new brands, Elite World Collection, Elite World NEST, Elite World INN, and Elite World Residence, to offer a much wider choice of accommodation to guest groups in different segments in line with these changing trends. Today, we continue on our way with eight brands that appeal to new trends and different types of tourism, and we serve with accommodation types that appeal to all areas of tourism.

 Şebnem Akalın: In the upcoming period, in which cities can we see Elite World hotels with new projects?

Emel Elik Bezaroğlu: As Elite World Hotels & Resorts, we set out to reach 50 hotels by 2030 within the scope of our growth strategy with the franchise business model. In this context, with the strategy of "diversifying tourism," which is one of the most important needs of our country's tourism, we come together with tourism investors from all over Turkey who want to step into the field of tourism or who are already in the sector and want to bring their brand together under the roof of a reliable and quality brand. We aim to contribute to the revival of tourism by bringing quality accommodation facilities to every corner of our country, not just big cities or tourist centers. In this context, we will open our Elite World Kuşadası hotel in Kuşadası in June, which will serve for 12 months in the marina area, the most touristic area of the region. With the demand from tourism investors, we will continue our efforts to reach 50 hotels in 7 regions of Turkey.

 Şebnem Akalın: Apart from your domestic hotels, do you have plans to expand abroad in the coming period?

Emel Elik Bezaroğlu: Within the scope of our growth strategy with the franchise model, we primarily aim to bring potential centers all over Turkey together with quality accommodation facilities. In the next stage of our strategy, we are planning a process in which we can evaluate and decide on investor requests from abroad.

 Şebnem Akalın: In recent years, due to the rapid depletion of natural resources, the concept of sustainability has come to the fore in all sectors, but especially in the tourism sector. How are naturalization and sustainability handled in your hotels, and what are your future plans?

Emel Elik Bezaroğlu: Sustainable tourism is among the priorities of tourism today. The most basic method of protecting our existing natural beauties, which contribute to our country's place in the world league in tourism, is to protect them with sustainable policies. For this reason, "sustainability" is among our priorities as a chain. In this context, we are doing our part. We follow a serious policy on water consumption and waste management. For example, in terms of water consumption, we have achieved the target of reducing the average consumption of 1.27 m3 per room in 2022 to 1.23 m3 this year.

Regarding waste management, we classify our waste according to the legal regulations, store it in our Zero Waste room, and carry out the processes with the relevant municipalities. We also focus on the social, cultural, and community sides of sustainability and support women producers with the products used in our hotels. We will continue to contribute to social and environmental responsibility by producing more sustainability and social responsibility projects in 2024.

 Şebnem Akalın: We know that you are a member of the Board of Directors of Elite World Hotels & Resorts as well as a member of the Board of Directors of the Turkish Tourism Promotion and Development Agency (TGA) and a member of the Board of Directors of the Eastern Anatolia Region. Could you tell us a little bit about TGA?

Emel Elik Bezaroğlu: Apart from my duties at Elite World Hotels & Resorts, I also contribute to the Turkish Tourism Promotion and Development Agency (TGA) under the Ministry of Tourism as a Board Member for the Eastern Anatolia Region. Within TGA, efforts are being made to increase market and tourist diversity in tourism in our country, where each city has tourism potential. TGA closely follows tourism trends and serves with a fast, active, and dynamic team of tourism volunteers to determine policies and act in parallel with these trends. In order to contribute to Turkey's positioning in the international market, TGA works to increase the number and profitability of tourists coming to our country, facilitate the implementation of potential investment projects for the tourism sector, and contribute to the development of cities. In this context, studies on areas such as sustainable tourism and destination branding are carried out meticulously.

 Şebnem Akalın: As a successful businesswoman, what would you like to say about your vision and your work to ensure more female managers in your sector and gender balance in the sector?

Emel Elik Bezaroğlu: The tourism sector is one of the sectors that contribute the most to the economy of our country among the service sectors. It represents a very dynamic area such as hospitality, setting trends, and taking quick action. Increasing the representation of female managers and colleagues in determining policies for these dynamics in the tourism sector is among our priorities. We have many female employees and managers within our chain. We contribute to the development of our female employees and managers and implement policies to support their career planning. In addition, we support strategies to increase the ratio of female employees throughout the tourism sector. I believe that the tourism sector, where women have a greater voice, will play an important role in the development of our country.

 Şebnem Akalın: Finally, is there a message you would like to convey to our readers?

Emel Elik Bezaroğlu: We plan to spend 2024 focusing on our growth targets as Elite World Resorts & Hotels. In 2023, we hope to exceed our targets this year and close the year with higher occupancy rates and profitability. We hope 2024 will be a year for our country's tourism to achieve leadership in the World Tourism League 

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