• World Biz Magazine

INTERVIEW: JELENA STIRNA - CEO OF MOGOTEL GROUP LATVIA


Jelena Stirna is representative of the values and culture of Mogotel Hotel Group. She has over 10 years of experience in the hospitality business since 2009. She is talented and enthusiastic personality, who knows every detail of the hotel business. Jelena is a responsible and convincing leader of a team of more than 550 employees.


Mogotel Hotel Group is the largest hotel operator in Latvia in a number of rooms and hotels. In total there are 15 hotels, directly operated by our company – in Riga, Bauska and Tallinn. Mogotel provides not only basic hotel services – accommodation, but also is a major figure in SPA and catering industry. Of course, Mogotel is a strong player in hotel business industry – stable growth in the hospitality industry for 15 years and the development speed, measured in seconds. It doesn’t matter, if you are a guest or potential new employee, we are always open for cooperation with you.



"Mogotel has a vast experience in developing, building, opening, managing and owning hotels. Mogotel started with very small limited-service hotels and we have grown to 250+ rooms full-service hotels."


Mogotel operates 15 hotels. Tell us about this success story.

There are different reasons for this success. First of all is our experience; Mogotel has a vast experience in developing, building, opening, managing and owning hotels. Mogotel started with very small limited-service hotels and we have grown to 250+rooms full-service hotels. Mogotel provided record results to various partners, especially financing institutions/ banks, investors and this led to trust and the development of Mogotel. Second; Mogotel is a family-run company, where the son continues to develop the company started by his father. The company owner has a focus on hotel business development. Strong hotel revenue management developed by our company, based on 20 years of experience, and a high level of focus on hotel guest satisfaction drive higher profits and ROI for the owners.



Mogotel offers a spectrum of management services for accommodation properties. Tell us about the key aspects of your business.


For investors we offer:

  • Effective and innovative way of cooperation with hotel owners.

  • Flexibility on contract terms.

  • Open and honest relationships.

  • Best performance in the market.

  • Fast decision-making process.

For employees we offer:

  • A stable and trustful employer.

  • A fast growing company that gives employees high career development possibilities.

  • A well known employer in the region.

For guests we offer:

  • A focus on guest satisfaction levels.

  • Price/ quality relationship, when quality is performing.

  • A high range of hotels to offer in the region for any client and any need.

For suppliers we offer:

  • A stable and trustful, highly- rated partner.

  • A fast growing company with growing demand for goods and services.

  • Highest order volumes in the region.

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"Mogotel constantly searches for hotel projects (existing or new developments) with high potential ROI. This usually is reached by the acquisition of distressed hotels, hotels after poor management, hotels with development potential. Sometimes we offer to Investors projects we have found, some- times Investors come to us with Projects, we evaluate them and consult the owner, and figure out what type of accommodation property to develop."


Tell us about Mogotel Investment and Consulting services.

Mogotel constantly searches for hotel projects (existing or new developments) with high potential ROI. This usually is reached by the acquisition of distressed hotels, hotels after poor management, hotels with development potential. Sometimes we offer to Investors projects we have found, some- times Investors come to us with Projects, we evaluate them and consult the owner, and figure out what type of accommodation property to develop.



Tell us about Mogotel’s Sales and Marketing services.

Sales services: Mogotel provides sales services for different types of cooperation. It can be exclusively sales and marketing support or full management where sales is part of the services provided from a total package. Under sales services there are a lot of different fields that we need to cover to create a product for our clients and investors. The major part of sales is revenue. Revenue is the most important field that requires the most precise concentration on the online market which changes by the hour. The aim is to sell the right product at the right time to the right customer. This is a confirmed key to success. As well as revenue, corporate and group business is very important in our strategy. This brings loyal customers who choose services constantly and there is a personal approach required for this part of sales. The explanation for Mogotel's success is based on the fact that we follow all changes in the market 24/7. Being first, to not miss an opportunity and reacting immediately is the main principle of the company and we definitely try to follow this principle every day.


Marketing services: We manage almost all the processes in-house, sometimes we involve agencies for some one-off tasks. We try to follow all the trends and quickly respond to everything new that appears in the industry, always trying to make decisions quickly. Having a strong team gives us the opportunity to minimize the time from making a decision to launching a new project, connecting a new web tool, setting up a new digital channel etc.

There are two main directions: Offline and Online.

1. Our main offline activities include: Marketing print materials development, Cooperation with hotels, Cooperation with partners and agents, Events, Video and Photo sessions, and Hotel audits.

​2. Our online activities: Website development and content management, Digital marketing materials development, Web tools connection and management, Digital Channels connection, setup and management, Analytics and Reports.

We pay special attention to our own websites, we consider them an important channel for online sales. We have built a complete e-commerce ecosystem around our websites that we constantly analyze, adapt and improve. Aspects include:

  • Pretargeting (Think) - Display Ads, Social Ads, Video Ads.

  • Targeting (Search) - Search Marketing, Metasearch Marketing.

  • Retargeting (Compare) - Display ads, Social Ads, Video Ads.

  • Booking (Book) – Email Marketing (Upsells).


​We use almost all popular online advertising platforms- Google Ads, Bing Ads, Yandex. Direct, Facebook and Instagram, YouTube, Metasearch (Google Hotel Ads, TripAdvisor, Trivago, Kayak, Skyscanner, Hotels Combined). We use some web applications that help increase conversions and sales, help make additional sales - Messages (Nudge message, Exit pop up, Notifications, Price comparison), Emails (Newsletters, Pre-arrival emails with upsells, Post-stay emails), Online Gift Vouchers, and more.



"Mogotel provides a full spectrum of services related to Hotel Management. We offers services ranging from existing hotels to new development projects. We consult hotel owners during hotel development, before opening and then we provide full hotel management service (Operational Services, Reservation Services, Marketing, Sales and Revenue Services, Purchasing Services etc.)"
"Mogotel provides sales services for different types of cooperation. It can be exclusively sales and marketing support or full management where sales is part of the services provided from a total package. Under sales services there are a lot of different fields that we need to cover to create a product for our clients and investors. The major part of sales is revenue. Revenue is the most important field that requires the most precise concentration on the online market which changes by the hour. The aim is to sell the right product at the right time to the right customer. This is a confirmed key to success."


Tell us about Mogotel’s full hotel management services.

Mogotel provides a full spectrum of services related to Hotel Management. We offers services ranging from existing hotels to new development projects. We consult hotel owners during hotel development, before opening and then we provide full hotel management service (Operational Services, Reservation Services, Marketing, Sales and Revenue Services, Purchasing Services etc.)



Tell us about Mogotel’s new project development services.

We offer: Assistance on project contracting (design and construction); Hotel technical assistance at the various stages of the design (Preliminary; Scheme design; Final design); Assistance for hotel equipment: FF&E; OS&E; EQS/Specialist Equipment; Technical assistance on IT equipment; and Assistance for hotel openings.



Tell us about your professional background and some highlights from Mogotel under your leadership.

I am currently the CEO of Mogotel, I am responsible for the management of Ltd Mogotel - hotel operating company. I am responsible for the following:

  • The transition from a single hotel business to a hotel operator business.

  • Recruitment and management of sales and marketing teams.

  • The overall financial performance and new business development.

Previously I was the Hotel General Manager of the Hotel Old Riga Palace - a 4 star hotel, overseeing all daily operations of the 100 rooms, restaurant, and spa center. I was also the Hotel General Manager of Mantess Boutique Hotel. Responsible for all daily operations of the small boutique hotel which became famous after President Bill Clinton stayed there while on his visit to Latvia. In summary – I went from a front office manager to hotel manager and to hotel operator CEO.



"Nobody can lead 650 people. I lead about 8-10 people and they lead their Employees. The important values I ascribe to are professionalism, full focus on what you are doing, work with heart and soul. A leader has to be an example and open to constant learning."
"Our region is an undiscovered market for investors. It is a rapidly rising hospitality market which is mainlyfocused on Estonia and Latvia. Distressed assets may appear in the next 12 month in Lithuania mainly."​


As a leader of 650 people, what are the important values and approaches that contribute to your leadership style.

Nobody can lead 650 people. I lead about 8-10 people and they lead their Employees. The important values I ascribe to are professionalism, full focus on what you are doing, work with heart and soul. A leader has to be an example and open to constant learning.



Tell us about the potential for hotel/ hospitality investors interested in Latvia and the Baltics.

Our region is an undiscovered market for investors. It is a rapidly rising hospitality market which is mainly focused on Estonia and Latvia. Distressed assets may appear in the next 12 month in Lithuania mainly.



You spoke at the HOTCO Hotel Investment Conference and said that ‘now is the best time for balanced, strategic and well-considered management’ in the hotel industry. Please expand on this.

First of all, this is in terms of cooperation between hotel owners and developers. That is the type of agreement and relationship I was addressing. There is huge competition between hotel operators right now in Europe and this will be won by the more creative, innovative, flexible and maximally-effective Operator companies. Customer behavior and booking trends are changing very fast, hotel owners want to get the upsides from the growth of the hotel industry. Hotel management has to be well structured, financially stable, professional, innovative and IT-innovation driven.





"We at Mogotel for many years have been working to become greener and nature friendly through the different actions and activities implemented through our hotel chain. We have taken necessary steps covering the areas of waste recycling, efficient usage of water as well as reduction of electricity and heat consumption by replacing non-efficient energy equipment and introducing flexible heating/lighting patterns."


If there was one thing that you would want the rest of the industry to copy from Mogotel, what would that be? This would be in regards to aggressive lease offers for new hotel development projects. Previous global economic crisis and now Covid -19 have revealed to the industry what results to expect from unsustainable lease agreements. These offers and terms from the hotel operators are driven by over-optimism in good times. I would like to suggest to hotel operators to bid with sustainable and balanced lease offers, it will probably result in slightly slower growth, but your business will survive in different circumstances.

Tell us about some of your Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives. We at Mogotel for many years have been working to become greener and nature friendly through the different actions and activities implemented through our hotel chain. We have taken necessary steps covering the areas of waste recycling, efficient usage of water as well as reduction of electricity and heat consumption by replacing non-efficient energy equipment and introducing flexible heating/lighting patterns. We also practice innovative, healthy, handmade and 100% natural treats as welcome gifts. These are very tasteful products with exceptional natural values. We launched the campaign 'Skip House-keeping Services' to reduce energy wastage. We provided a small eco-surprise to those guests, who decided to skip cleaning their room. Our catering disposables are made from renewable, lower carbon, recycled or reclaimed materials. We use metallic containers to store our food and ingredients. All restaurant food is served in glass-material dishes. We sort waste in our offices, restaurants and hotels to protect our natural resources. In cooperation with local suppliers and animal protection organizations we plan to source only cage-free eggs (shell, liquid and egg products) by 2025 for our entire portfolio.

What is currently in the pipeline for Mogotel? In our pipeline besides local expansion (Baltics), Mogotel is currently under negotiations in Bratislava, Slovakia; Ljubljana, Slovenia; Vienna, Austria; Hamburg, Germany; Kiev, Ukraina.

For more information, please visit: www.mogotel.com