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WORDS MOLLY DYSON


INTERVIEW


PROFILE Gabriel Escarrer Jaume is


the son of Melia Hotels International founder Gabriel Escarrer Julia. In 1996, he took part in the successful IPO of the company, becoming chief executive in 1999.


FAMILY VALUES M


WHAT IS DRIVING THE GROWTH?


Digital optimisation has been a factor of our growth. Currently, online channels account for 70 per cent of our total sales, 30 per cent of which are directly through Melia.com. Our B2B channel MeliaPro for corporate, business travel and MICE is also successful, growing by 35 per cent in the first nine months of 2018.


MUCH OF MELIA’S STRATEGY IS FOCUSED ON BLEISURE STAYS. WHY TAKE THAT STANCE? Melia’s leadership and long-standing expertise in leisure hospitality worldwide has enabled us to capture an increasingly leisure-inspired urban market, perfectly fusing business and leisure experiences, so we have a competitive advantage when it comes to this emerging segment.


OUR AIM IS NOT JUST TO GET


BIGGER, BUT TO GET STRONGER


THERE’S A LOT OF CONSOLIDATION HAPPENING IN THE HOTEL WORLD. CAN WE EXPECT TO SEE MELIA SOON ON THE ACQUISITION TRAIL? We are not focusing on acquiring other brands, but on expanding organically and forging strategic alliances to improve and maximise growth as well as optimise distribution and efficiencies to increase profitability. We feel we have the ideal size for delivering exceptional hospitality, and our aim is not just to get bigger, but to get stronger, focusing on quality and margins instead of quantity.


MELIA WAS RECENTLY NAMED THE THIRD MOST SUSTAINABLE HOTEL COMPANY IN THE WORLD. IS THIS IMPORTANT FOR YOUR STRATEGY? Sustainability is a must for our company, due to the family values which form the basis of our culture and afford us with a certain respect and value for the environment and commu- nities. Our sustainability clauses are also strategic, as we as a company seek to attract “socially responsible investors”.


WHERE DO YOU SEE THE COMPANY IN TEN YEARS? The outlook for the hotel industry in the next ten years is prom- ising despite concerns, such as the impact of climate change on resort destinations, which we are very much aware of. I expect to keep a constant growth path to remain in the top 20 hotel groups worldwide, with a significant expansion – even doubling our portfolio – in China and South East Asia, and solid, organic growth in Europe and the Caribbean.


buyingbusinesstravel.com 2019 JANUARY/FEBRUARY 51


Melia Hotels International is expanding rapidly in the business travel arena. Chief executive Gabriel Escarrer tells BBT that it will remain true to its principles


ELIA ANNOUNCED FIVE NEW SIGNINGS AT WORLD TRAVEL MARKET LAST YEAR, INCLUDING ITS THIRD IN LONDON. WHAT IS THE STRATEGIC SIGNIFICANCE OF THE KENSINGTON HOTEL? In the past five years, we have been consistently increasing our bleisure portfolio within the UK across different segments, including the ME London and INNSIDE Manchester. The Melia London Kensington will demonstrate our com- mitment to the British market and to London – a key bleisure destination in Europe.


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