What are your priorities in Asia?
Meliá’s growth strategy is two-pronged: Opening of new markets, and reiteration of leadership position in leisure and bleisure segments.
The opportunities we see are in the mid-scale up to luxury market and the leisure segment, with brands such as Sol by Meliá, Meliá, INNSIDE by Meliá, Gran Meliá and ME by Meliá.
Some markets in Asia appeal to lifestyle and are more appealing to millennials. For example, we have our Sol brand in Bali and Phu Quoc, and will introduce the brand to Koh Samui.
“Being of Spanish origins, it means we keep Spanish warmth and conviviality that differentiate us from competitors.” – Mariá Zarraluqui, global development V.P. of Meliá Hotels International.
INNSIDE is another brand for the new generation of road warriors and one that addresses the shifts in business travel today. INNSIDE is perfect for key Asian business hubs such as Zhengzhou in China and Johor Bahru in Malaysia.
Our growth for Sol and INNSIDE is focused mainly in Vietnam, China, Indonesia, Thailand and Philippines, where we have six.
We are also planning to bring the ME by Meliá and Paradisus brands to Asia – ME in major cities such as Shanghai, Bangkok and Vietnam, where we expect to have at least one project in the short-term, and Paradisus in places like Thailand, Indonesia and Philippinnes.
We plan to continue our growth path with our mother brand, Meliá, and our premium brand, Gran Meliá, which together accounted for 12 signatures in 2017.
Your 2016 annual report stated that Meliá Hotels was a group in “transformation”. In what ways is Meliá ‘transforming’?
Meliá Hotels International is under a strategic transformation, focusing on an lighter-asset, more management-oriented, business model.
MHI now has a portfolio of hotels in which low capital-intensity models (management and franchise) account for 60% of the rooms under the traditional models of ownership and leasing.
Of the 48 signatures between 2016 and 2017, 80% are under management agreements.
Our low capital intensity management model has given us greater momentum to drive innovation, strategic growth, recognition in key markets, while minimising risk.
In terms of brand recognition, how well is Meliá, a hotel group with its roots in Spain, recognised in Asia?
Being of Spanish origins, it means we keep Spanish warmth and conviviality that differentiate us from competitors.
Meliá’s USPs (leisure-born, leisure-leaders, Spanish warmth and hospitality, ideal size, family-born and listed company) are very important in order to compete, and make us stronger to conquer the emerging, powerful “bleisure” market.
Asia is a diverse region, and creating awareness is always a challenge. First, we need to increase our footprint. Meliá hasn’t put its imprint on every market yet, and the degree of visibility varies.
In Indonesia, our first international market in Asia, we enjoy strong top-of-mind awareness after almost 30 years of operations.
In Vietnam and Thailand, the group has a robust pipeline with two properties in Thailand - Meliá Chiang Mai and INNSIDE Bangkok, and and the recently opened Meliá Ba Vi Mountain Retreat in Vietnam.
By the end of 2017, we had 27 properties in the pipeline and 18 in operation, bringing our total footprint in Asia Pacific to 45.