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Wednesday 18.07.2018 | Name days: Rozālija, Roze

Hospitality industry expert: some officials find joy in «torturing» businessmen

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While the state was not able to ensure a qualitative offer for solvent and culture tourists, pretty and active girls took care of it by creating a chaotic offer to sex tourists, the former Hotel and Restaurant Association of Latvia Head Jānis Jenzis told in an interview with the business news portal BNN.

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU, Janis Jenzis

Janis Jenzis

Did you learn business basics in childhood when playing Monopoly with your parents?

Monopoly is a dear example of mine, because it includes all the right business codes. The importance of a balance between money and properties and/or companies. The one who has accumulated the biggest safety net is the winner. Of course, luck matters as well – you need the dice to work for you. My godmother who emigrated to the US during the war once told me it is not important to have money, instead you need luck on your side and the big chance.

You turned your hobby into a way of making a living, so that it would be interesting for you. Don’t you aspire becoming a millionaire?

It’s not right to think about the first million. I believe it is not money that brings happiness. If I wanted a million so bad, I would do something else, instead of launching restaurants. We had a very optimal start one and a half a year ago in Kipsala, Matrozu Street 15, we are now looking forward to the next «fat years». We created our own special approach in the peak of the crisis – «a democratic restaurant» where we incorporated the principle «good value for money». I am positive a good and professional product in the catering sector sells at all times. That’s true, though, we have not yet claimed the patent for the brand «a democratic restaurant». We saw people were willing to have a nice meal and fun also during the crisis. Many colleagues did not get it that people were tightening their belts, as they no longer could afford to pay 20 lats for the main meal and three lats for a glass of beer. We focus on the middle class, because previosuly there were only either expensive restaurants or cheap bistros in Latvia – Lido, Mc Donald’s, Hesburger etc. We see they also use the term «democratic» and try to copy some my restaurant Ostas skati (Port Scenes) solutions in their menus, because they think this niche is profitable. I have my own formula of generating ideas for this business. It includes travelling with your eyes wide open for mentalities, life styles and all kinds of positive aspects creating joy, then you analyse this from the perspective of your professional experience. It is not some countries for me – Great Britain or France – it is the whole world. Ideas need to be adapted for the specific market, that’s for sure. It happens you have been racking you brain to find a solution, but the inspiration and an amazing idea come out of blue, while you are doing sport or listening to classical music.

How did you manage to find business partners that do not let you down?

There have been disappointments. I am quite experienced now in perceiving the real essence of a person. Basically, I rely on my intuition and trust in people. I do not let negative emotions enter my mind. I return evil with good, it brings much bigger satisfaction than hatred.

Once you said this business is not bringing any profit and it is nearly impossible to reach a huge turnover, investments should be careful, spending controlled. How did you manage to turn 300 000 lats and post 61 000 lats profit in the first year of Ostas skati?

The staff and the choice of products suppliers matters. Everything has to be perfect. It is a team work seven days a week. That’s how we earned back the initial investments of 30 000 lats. Those ready to join the hospitality industry, I warn you, «you have taken up the most interesting and beautiful industry in the world, but this is where you will have to work the longest hours, while getting the lowest salary».

Is the red tape tightening or dropping?

The State Chancellery had commissioned Latvian Employers Confederation and the audit company Ernst & Young Latvia to carry out a study on this, I was invited to join it as a restaurant expert. There are problems, first of all, many EU regulations have been directly incorporated into our legislation. Obviously, when we joined the EU, it lacked capacity to look into the subject matter of each regulation. Thus the legislation includes different certification requirements not bringing value added in a long term. Certificates are granted by related companies and the service is charged. Another significant issue is the controlling authorities – State Revenue Service, the National Labour Inspectorate or the Food and Veterinary Service have to understand the importance of their collaboration with fair businessmen. We have the same goals – qualitative food, healthy people, businessmen taking care of their employees, correct tax calculation and payment. We shouldn’t employ Soviet methods – finding a flaw, sticking to it and thus punishing… Cooperation, talk and consultation would be more efficient. I have met many highly professional people in this field, however there are also officials with clear power issues finding some kind of a joy in «torturing» businessmen.

Why is it more difficult to generate 100 lats revenue in restaurant business than in the banking sector?

Our product takes a lot of time, moreover there are also several risks – food expires, suppliers change prices, clients taste and the number of them alter as well.

What is the portrait of a foreign tourist we want to attract?

While the state was not able to ensure a qualitative offer for solvent and culture tourists, pretty and active girls took care of it by creating a chaotic offer to sex tourists. The same took place in Prague as well. If all taxes were paid for the service, we would benefit more. The problem was many foreign tourists were deceived. While intelligent tourists should have been attracted by offering more of a cultural programme – the National Opera, classical music, interesting tours, museums, art, Jugend Architecture and high quality in hotels and restaurants.

You formed Inspiration Rīga Board. What is your opinion about the brand Live Riga and Riga as the homeland of a Christmas tree?

Countries and cities of the 21th century need their special thing to attract tourists’ attention and convince them to choose our capital city as a travel destination. The competition in the global tourism is huge. And the idea about the Christmas tree is not that bad after all. Live Riga has a budget it can base its activities upon. Latvian tourism marketing has always lacked funds. Of course, compared to 80 million euro for tourism marketing in Norway, Live Riga 3 millions seem very small. Ēriks Stendzenieks idea about the Blue Cow (a particular breed of Latvian cow) was a good one, it would have been more efficient, if parallel internal campaigns had been carried out as well, so that the residents of Kurzeme evoke tourists’ interest by telling the same legends.

Should we focus on offering «green holidays» to foreigners and velo tourism routes in the country side?

Definitely! Those preferring active tourism are positive and intelligent people. However the lack of routes hinders the velo tourism development. Holes in roads do scare people. The association Lauku ceļotājs (Country Traveller) stands up for infrastructure improvements and the regional tourism development, by promoting businessmen training and their capacity boost. I believe we will benefit from this sustainable development approach in future.

You were one of the first ones to advocate the creation of a tourism police unit?

Yes, and I am glad it took place after six years. Tourists in Old Riga and around it feel safer now. I have not looked in depth into their power, but it could help in dealing with certain taxis and bars infringements as well.

Do hospital owners sell their businesses to the investors from the East?

It is more like a wait-and-see situation, but many of them are sick and tired of the constant uncertainty in the hotel sector and the national tax policy. Thus they are ready to sell their companies for a more or less satisfactory price. Sometimes they cannot agree with the Russian investors, as they want to buy cheap, due to the crisis. Russian investors are attracted to the option of purchasing properties in the EU, as it is a way to get a residence permit. Luckily, most of the hotels are still managed by the West, as the specific Russian business culture would bring no good to the Latvian hotel sector in a long term.

Leave a reply

  1. Lily says:

    Luckily, most of the hotels are still managed by the West, as the specific Russian business culture would bring no good to the Latvian hotel sector in a long term. – good words!

  2. Gunnar says:

    The entrepreneur has some interesting views. Anyhow, his business experience has generated some valuable ideas.

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