The El Corte Ingles Cultural Center in Malaga was the scene of last Thursday’s autumn edition of the Gran Debate Hotelero Costa del Sol, organized by Grupo Vía. The event was attended by over 70 leaders from the Costa del Sol’s hotel sector who discussed innovative strategies that will help to maintain the destination and its hotels as recognized leaders in international tourism.
The first panel discussion, moderated by Carlos Díez de la Lastra, CEO and General Director of Les Roches Marbella International School of Hotel Management, was devoted to focusing on ways to upgrade the hotel sector in order to attract new customer profiles of the 21st century. During the debate they discussed the importance of new tourism and hotel projects that opt to specialize in accommodating new types of clients like health-conscious travellers and technologically proficient millenials. In addition, they offered important insights into the need for professional associations in the area to provide adequate support to industry businesses that will help them develop a unified public-private strategic plan for the Costa del Sol as a whole.
Intervening in the first roundtable discussion was Jorge Saez, General Manager of the new Sol House Aloha Costa Del Sol Meliá, Mr. Saez highlighted the implementation of rebranding strategies and new hotel concepts intended to attract the ‘millennials’ generation. He was accompanied in the discussion by Raúl Huerga, General Director of Healthouse Las Dunas who presented his company’s case study on health-related tourism. Also, José Ramón Urzay, Commercial Director of Hotel Los Monteros and Les Roches Marbella Alumnus (Postgraduate Diploma 2001) drew attention to the sector’s vulnerability to exposure of negative comments on websites like TripAdvisor they are not always contrasted by positive client experiences. Finally, Les Roches Marbella Alumnus (BBA 2002), Carlos Erburu of Sotogrande S.A. joined the debate and explained how his company was recently acquired by private investment funds that propose a new strategy for their hotels that will not rely solely on high-season occupancy by offering guests attractive experiences throughout the year.
In the second panel discussion, moderated by Albert Grau, Managing Partner of Magma Hospitality Consulting, the speakers considered how expanding a hotel’s capacity to provide professionls that know the culture and language of new emerging markets such as Russia, China and lucrative middle eastern countries. This second table also featured leading hoteliers, José Luque, CEO of Hoteles Fuerte and Jose Maria Rossell, president of Grupo Hoteles Playa Senator They outlined the privileged position of the Costa del Sol in terms of infrastructure compared to other tourist destinations, while stressing the need for an enhanced public-private partnership in tourism related sectors. Also intervening in this discussion were Gema Garrido, Managing Partner of The Kreative Room, who spoke about how social networks have revolutionized communication while increasing competitiveness in the hotel industry and Jordi Cuenca of Verum Hotel Development who emphasized the importance of not only rating hotels by the stars they have but also by the experiences expressed by guests.
The next editions of the Gran Debate Hotelero will take place in Madrid (October 7), Valencia (November 11) and Las Palmas (November 24). The debate series will continue to have the support of Les Roches Marbella and reiterates the university’s ongoing commitment to providing a leading voice for professionals and entrepreneurs of the Spanish tourism industry.