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INTERVIEW WITH BORA GOYMEN - GENERAL MANAGER OF YOTEL AND YOTELAIR ISTANBUL

Emma Petty Author: Emma Petty
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Last updated: 30 July 2019

We sat down with YOTEL and YOTELAIR Istanbul’s General Manager, Bora Goymen, to find out how he’s found his YOTEL journey so far. As the first GM to open two hotels at the same time, we couldn’t wait to have a chat with him!

WHAT EXCITED YOU ABOUT JOINING THE YOTEL CREW WHEN YOU JOINED AS GENERAL MANAGER?

When I heard about the position of General Manager, I was interested in the huge potential for growth. With plans to open two hotels within the airport, I knew it would be a huge project – but it was bound to be for one of the biggest airports in the world! It’s been great to be a part of it from the start and to help bring YOTEL to Turkey for the first time.

  • Photo Credit: YOTEL

WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST INTRODUCTION TO THE BRAND AND WAS THERE A PARTICULAR PROPERTY THAT STOOD OUT TO YOU?

Right after I found out I got the job I made a quick trip to a few of their operating YOTELAIR locations, London Gatwick, Heathrow and Amsterdam Schiphol. They were pretty much exactly what I expected to see when I’d first heard of their smart, compact design – it was an exciting experience! The more I learned about YOTEL the more I felt I was in the right place and knew there was so much we could do with the Istanbul properties. Before I joined YOTEL I’d only worked in very high-end, luxury hotels so when I first saw YOTELAIR London Gatwick it really showed me how different and cool YOTEL’s ethos is.

WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST DIFFERENCE BETWEEN YOTEL AND YOUR PREVIOUS COMPANIES?

I’ve got to say, the YOTEL brand is totally different from anything I’ve seen before! It’s a fresh concept built completely around what modern travellers look for and no other companies are doing it to the standard of YOTEL. I see a lot of the copy and paste approach in this industry, so it’s been great to join a brand that goes against the grain. YOTEL is very specific in what they want to achieve in order to make life easier for its guests, it’s been so interesting to learn how they do things differently.

HAS IT BEEN FUN TO BUILD A TEAM AROUND YOU AND MANAGE THEM THE YOTEL WAY?

Absolutely – other hotels can be very structured. YOTEL is unique with its approach to its people which creates a really fun environment to work in. I see it in everyone from the hotel crews to HQ – everyone is happy and helpful, making it super easy to communicate. Together we’ve created a brand and a culture that allows everyone to be open-minded and imaginative – the sky is the limit here. It’s been refreshing building one team across the two hotels that work together with such pride and excitement.

WHAT DIFFERENT TYPES OF TRAVELLER DO YOU SEE CHECKING IN TO YOTEL AND YOTELAIR?

As the two hotels are inside the airport terminal itself, we see people travelling for many different reasons. We see business people, we see families, we see adventurers out on their own – the list goes on! It’s easy to look at different people and their reasons for travelling but the one thing that connects them is they’re trying to get from A to B and want their journey to be as stress-free as possible. The sheer size of the airport makes it a mini-metropolis, bringing people together from all over the world; it never slows down in the airport so it’s always interesting. 

The sheer size of the airport makes it a mini-metropolis, bringing people together from all over the world; it never slows down in the airport so it’s always interesting. 

WHY DO YOU THINK THE YOTEL BRAND RESONATES WITH THE TURKISH PUBLIC?

There’s simply nothing else like it in Turkey. This is a very new brand which feels young and refreshing compared to what you usually see, especially in Istanbul. The city is also very young - 50% of our population is between 25-40 years so that really correlates with the brand as far as the guest profile is concerned. We love value for money here as well – so YOTEL’s pricing and added extras will fit really well with the Turkish market.

WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT TURKISH HOSPITALITY?

We’re right in between Asia and Europe – Istanbul represents the modern world! It’s a bridge between the two cultures and all cultures have their own expectations of hospitality. I really believe there is Turkish hospitality much like Swedish and Asian, for example. I believe Turkish hospitality is very sincere. We welcome people into our homes at any time and treat guests with care and generosity. That’s how I’d define Turkish hospitality, we’re very happy people.

  • YOTEL Istanbul: Entrance
  • YOTELAIR Istanbul: KOMYUNITI
  • YOTEL: Premium Queen Cabin

WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE THING TO DO IN THE AIRPORT IN YOUR DOWNTIME?

I see so many different people moving through the airport every day. If I have a spare hour or so, I like to go to the duty-free area. On the first floor, you can sit with a coffee and watch everyone getting ready to travel. I like to be out there because it helps clear my mind. You see people from all around the world and feel like you’re in the centre of it all – it’s huge! I also love our KOMYUNITI areas where I can chat to guests and visitors or re-energise on my own with a book. The coffee’s free so I sometimes drink a few more than I should! 

IF YOU COULD OPEN A YOTEL ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD, WHERE WOULD IT BE?

San Diego. I love it there and think the city’s culture and vibe would match YOTEL very well. I think a YOTELPAD would work very well in Hawaii – who doesn’t want to go to Hawaii!

WHAT CAN’T YOU TRAVEL WITHOUT?

Family and Friends – I need them! I don’t like to travel alone but sometimes I have to for business. Travelling alone can be draining and boring when you only have a phone or laptop to keep you busy, so good company is essential.