Heads Up! You Get What You Pay For… But Not Necessarily in Georgia


The summer is almost here, and our seaside is getting ready for the season, but getting ready in this particular case means doing plenty of various difficult things.

Today, this would mean something totally different from what it was a couple of decades ago. Currently, the sphere of service, as any other field of the country’s economic activity, is faced with severe competition in the market which automatically means needing to keep in mind all that makes a player in the field easily sellable and readily acceptable to the clients of so many disparate tastes. Let us take for instance the city of Batumi – one of the most beautiful and popular places in Georgia – and have a cursory look at the situation there.

Batumi is a solid sea port but at the same time is a resort which is preparing for the 2016 summer season as any other resort would. There are some strong points that make Batumi attractive for visitors in the expected tourism boom period: the growing modern city with tens of beautiful high-rise buildings, a unique 20-kilometer boulevard which is the longest strolling seaside street in Europe, the botanical garden with an outstanding collection of trees and plants, spectacular sights, numerous comfortable beaches, lots of exotic catering spots, and finally, our wonderful hospitable people.

While this is all very good, it seems it is not enough. The competition in the region – and in the world too – is so harsh and intensive that it becomes practically impossible to make serious money in the tourism industry.

A tourist in our time has become a ‘spoilt’ species. In the epoch of relaxed and cheap transportation, abundance of happy board and lodging, high-quality service and affordable sojourns practically anywhere around the globe, tourists can have anything they want if they are ready to spend the money. Hence the question: why should a tourist spend money here in Georgia, say, in Batumi? Is the service level here higher than anywhere else where people want to enjoy the sea and the sun? Probably not! Moreover, service as such may sometimes be found at nadir here – as unsavory as it might be to recognize.

So is it cheaper at least? No, it is not! In fact, rumor strongly has it that this summer a tripling of prices is expected. Tripling! Based on what? According to what mercantile standards? What could make a regular service worth three times what it was? The only answer here is the fact that the beach season on Georgia’s shores is only two months long, and the seller of a service wants to grab this scanty opportunity and save money for winter, working profitably throughout the 60-day summer.

We could qualify this kind of attitude in the sphere of service as greed but it should rather be fear for the future that pushes people to think in the short run, which usually results on a loss of clients in the seasons that are ahead for years to come. Tourists have a habit of arriving, trying and, if they get frustrated, being left with no desire to return. This is how people go bankrupt, and the entire field of commerce goes bankrupt, and countries go bankrupt if trade is not handled properly. Standard of living is based on trade – a simple truth! And if we mess it up, then say goodbye to the good life. You sell, you buy – this is what it is all about.

The key to good commerce is in price formation. In Georgia, prices have always been weird on everything, especially on hotel accommodation. You cannot have Euro-American prices in hotels, for instance, and offer deeply Georgian socialist service and quality. You can make someone buy your low-grade service once or twice, but not always. Eventually, a client will understand the trick and feel deceived, which may be the beginning of the end.

It is the ABC of commerce that prices and quality have to be compatible because the boom of information and access to means of disseminating that information have made us all knowledgeable in almost every walk of life. We know by heart all the price tags and the ways the prices are generated and manipulated. Lying has become not only irrelevant but practically impossible. People know exactly what costs what, all laid out on the God-blessed Internet profusely and transparently.

Instances of good service are equal to moments of human happiness. For example, how would you feel if you went to the beach to relax and forget for a while the clatter of the world that you have temporarily eschewed, and all of a sudden, somebody sticks right into your tired ears the loud nerve-wrecking cacophony created by merging the sounds of motley pieces of music, played by various caterers right on the beach where you want to sprawl and sigh with relief?

I know I am doing some kind of disservice to the tourist industry of this country by saying this, but my purpose is just the contrary: heads up!

Nugzar B. Ruhadze

28 April 2016 21:47