• The key to attracting more international tourists is to reinforce Spain’s unique character through the values associated with its culture and gastronomy.
• Despite the recovery of competing destinations, Spain has managed to gain market share and retain customers with greater purchasing power.
• Carlos Díez de la Lastra, General Manager of Les Roches Marbella and moderator of the debate, urged hoteliers, who demand greater involvement from government entities, to lead the change.
Hotel industry executives participated in the Gran Debate Hotelero, organized by Grupo Vía and held at the Novotel Madrid Center hotel on October 10, 2018. The objective: to reflect on the challenges facing the sector and analyze the role of Spain on the global tourist map, taking into account the emergence of new destinations, the emergence of new business models, and the demands of new client profiles.
Moderated by Carlos Díez de la Lastra, General Manager of Les Roches Marbella, the first of two discussions panels included José Ángel Preciados, General Director of
José Guillermo Díaz Montañés, CEO of Artie, acknowledged that the industry has experienced a period of splendor thanks to the instability of competitors such as Turkey, Tunisia, and Egypt: “We had a tourism loan, of almost 30%, and we have only lost 5%, which means that we have been able to earn a share.” Carlos Diaz de la Lastra, General Manager of Les Roches Marbella, shared his reflection but also pointed out that Spain is acquiring and retaining tourists of greater purchasing power. Inmaculada de Benito, Chief Operating Officer of Iberostar Group, believes that it is time to stop measuring the economy of tourism in terms of numbers. “We can not continue to grow only by increasing the number of tourists. We have to move towards value, and that requires implementing a global tourism policy led private enterprise.” The hotel and tourism industry’s policies, according to José Ángel Preciados, General Director of Ilunion Hotels, should begin to be less short-sighted. He said, “There industry’s regulations are very heterogeneous in Spain. It is important that we work on long-term policies, which will allow us to build on the concept of a national brand which goes beyond the sun and beach formula, and enables us to assume the arrival of more travelers.”Spain’s hotels undoubtedly represent one of the key points of the tourism industry. In fact, according to Carlos Díez de la Lastra, “we are world leaders in vacation accommodation; a reality that must also be countered with new experiences that help us to retain and attract tourists outside the summer season “. The client, says Inmaculada de Benito, does not just look for quality. “Not only do you have to renovate infrastructures. Our goal is to surprise and provide superior value to your stay. ” A line of work common to all, which puts at the epicenter of customer service and their needs. So José Matheu, Corporate Development Director of Palladium Hotel Group, believes that differentiation is the key to success. “We seek to convert our customers into fans and make the hotel itself a destination. All our novelties are designed so that there is a sensory experience from the beginning, capable of surprising the guest “.
Tourist homes: coexisting with the same rules
José Guillermo Díaz Montañés assures that the irruption of the tourist houses has managed to understand that “the business model is changed; those who decide to do what they have always done will not survive. ” For Carlos Díaz de la Lastra, the key is to apply regulation. “There has to be fiscal control and a commitment of transparency on the part of the platforms to eliminate also the feeling of frustration and lack of control that is experienced within the hotel sector.” In fact, Inmaculada de Benito, who states that “disorderly development on a national scale causes problems of coexistence and can create tourist-phobia when it affects traditional business”. According to Inmaculada, the industry is committed to establishing a “tourism policy that eliminates intrusive business, the underground economy and allows everyone involved to compete equally.
Madrid, a growing destination, ready to attract international tourists
Madrid is ranked number 1 for the number of hotels under planning and construction nationwide, with 14 new projects that will be added to the 810 hotels that were operating in 2017. A boost that, according to Jacobo Bello, Regional Operations Director of NH Hotel Group, represents an opportunity for the sector at all levels. “Any investment is positive, not only for the new openings but also for the renewal of current positions and the generation of new jobs.” But, in addition, according to Bello, it gives us the possibility of gaining a share in international tourism. “Madrid still depends a lot on the national tourist profile and these openings force us to raise the bar. Our goal should be to increase the number of foreign tourists by 60%. From 2014 to 2017 we have increased by 20%, and although we are on the right track, we are far from other capitals. In the Community of Madrid, tourism accounts for 6% of GDP and 12% of employment. Therefore, we must demand budgets according to this “.
Guillermo Pérez Palacios, General Director of Panorama Hotel Management, believes that it is necessary to have a global strategic planning of administrations “With individual actions, we will only achieve an inconsistent tourism market”; an idea shared by Carlos Díez de la Lastra, who urged hoteliers to act and lead the change. Juan Escudero, General Director of Rafael Hoteles, pointed out that Madrid is experiencing a great moment, but that the average duration of hotel accommodations has decreased by 9%. This is a number that could change if regional institutions effectively promoted the resources of Madrid. Mr. Escudero added that “less than two hours from the capital there are nine World Heritage Sites, a quality that entire countries do not often have and that many tourists are unaware of. This simple lack of information can prevent them from extending their stay to Madrid.”
Carlos Díez de la Lastra, aware of the moment that Spain and Madrid are living, considers it essential for hoteliers and hospitality businesses to direct the real policies of change, and also to make a commitment to professionalization as an element of value and differentiation compared to cheaper options that come from other markets. “Training is a key element in the construction of competitive destinations. We must pamper the quality of the service and to do that it is essential to motivate, protect, and retain talent. The transformation of the human element is essential to boost hotel companies and approach new forms of tourism. “