Sha­ring eco­no­my, OTAs and new kinds of tou­rists for­ce ho­te­liers to ma­ke in­no­va­ti­ve de­ci­sions

seeITALY - - Banche - Lau­ra Do­mi­ni­ci

Ga­brie­le Pic­ci­ni, Uni­Cre­dit: “The re­com­men­da­tion is to ri­de the wa­ve of chan­ge”

A sec­tor that is co­ming out of an im­pas­se that was par­ti­cu­lar­ly felt du­ring the se­cond half of 2015, a si­gnal bac­ked by the main activity ca­te­go­ry models. Ga­brie­le Pic­ci­ni, coun­try ma­na­ger for Ita­ly at Uni­Cre­dit, pro­vi­des an over­view of this re­ver­sal in Ita­lian tou­ri­sm trends. The bank has si­gned a stra­te­gic agree­ment wi­th Con­fin­du­stria Al­ber­ghi to fi­nan­ce re­fur­bish­ment of ho­spi­ta­li­ty esta­blish­men­ts.

See Ita­ly: Af­ter a long dif­fi­cult pe­riod, the tou­ri­sm sec­tor seems to ha­ve tur­ned around. What are the Uni­Cre­dit ob­ser­va­to­ry fo­re­casts for the next few years?

“Du­ring our road­show pre­sen­ting the Tou­ri­sm Pro­ject, the ope­ra­tors them­sel­ves told us that the sec­tor seems to ha­ve fi­nal­ly left this im- pas­se be­hind. The se­cond half of 2015 espe­cial­ly even re­gi­ste­red a dou­ble-di­git in­crea­se in sea­si­de tou­ri­sm and Mi­lan’s suc­cess du­ring the mon­ths of Ex­po. The re­sul­ts this year are al­so con­fir­med by the main activity ca­te­go­ry models that show a con­stant glo­bal gro­w­th trend in tou­rists for the next few years, abo­ve all re­la­ti­ve to emerging mar­ke­ts. What is im­por­tant is ma­na­ging to in­ter­cept the lar­ge­st sli­ce

pos­si­ble of the­se new flo­ws wi­th a com­pe­ti­ti­ve ser­vi­ce abo­ve all in terms of qua­li­ty of ser­vi­ces and pro­duc­ts of­fe­red”.

See Ita­ly: You ha­ve de­di­ca­ted the Uni­Cre­dit 4Tou­ri­sm pro­ject to sec­tor ope­ra­tors; can you gi­ve us so­me ini­tial re­sul­ts for the ini­tia­ti­ve?

“Sin­ce we laun­ched the pro­ject in April 2015, we ha­ve set up a cam­pai­gn to pro­mo­te this ini­tia­ti­ve the leng­th and bread­th of Ita­ly, tou­ching 20 of the ma­jor tou­ri­st re­sorts and pre­sen­ting the pro­ject to over 2500 en­tre­pre­neurs in the sec­tor. In ea­ch of the re­gions we met ope­ra­tors de­si­rous of at­ten­tion from banks and in­sti­tu­tions, si­gnals that we had al­rea­dy gathered and that led us to de­di­ca­te a spe­ci­fic pro­ject to tou­ri­sm. Du­ring the fir­st 10 mon­ths of the year, we loa­ned around 600 mil­lion eu­ros to this sec­tor, well di­stri­bu­ted across all our clien­te­le seg­men­ts. If we con­ti­nue at this ra­te, we count on achie­ving our de­cla­red goal even be­fo­re 2018. Our of­fer is not li­mi­ted ju­st to fi­nan­cial pro­duc­ts; we ha­ve ma­de in­su­ran­ce pro­duc­ts avai­la­ble as well, in col­la­bo­ra­tion wi­th top le­vel part­ners, tech­no­lo­gy and hi-te­ch pro­duc­ts su­ch as ho­tel TV, spa equi­p­ment and gyms, evol­ved ca­sh re­gi­sters, bu­si­ness in­tel­li­gen­ce soft­ware and trai­ning cour­ses for sec­tor ope­ra­tors that all add up to ma­ke a tru­ly com­ple­te ran­ge of ser­vi­ces, tai­lor-ma­de to suit ope­ra­tor needs”.

See Ita­ly: You ha­ve an­noun­ced that you want to gain 30,000 new clien­ts in the sec­tor by the end of 2018. What pro­gress are you ma­king?

“We ha­ve ma­de hu­ge pu­blic com­mit­men­ts and ju­st 6 mon­ths af­ter laun­ch of this ini­tia­ti­ve we are seeing the fir­st re­sul­ts. We ha­ve put our net­work and our pro­duc­ts at the di­spo­sal of the sec­tor, aware of the stra­te­gic im­por­tan­ce for Ita­ly of a sec­tor that, if gi­ven ade­qua­te sup­port, ge­ne­ra­tes po­si­ti­ve re­turns in eco­no­mic and em­ploy­ment terms for the dif­fe­rent re­gions. We ha­ve

al­rea­dy ac­qui­red 5,000 new clien­ts and we ex­pect to see ma­ny mo­re ar­ri­ving over the next th­ree years”.

See Ita­ly: What are the chal­len­ges fa­cing ho­te­liers in the short­me­dium term?

The ho­tel sec­tor is to­day at the cen­tre of great chan­ge. New players ha­ve en­te­red the sha­ring eco­no­my; the OTA gian­ts are be­co­ming esta­bli­shed and the mar­ket is seeing the ar­ri­val of new kinds of tou­rists, in terms of ha­bi­ts, spen­ding po­wer and coun­try of ori­gin. This is ge­ne­ra­ting con­ti­nual chan­ge in de­mand and con­se­quen­tly in sup­ply. One of the mo­st im­por­tant chal­len­ges for a ho­te­lier to­day is ma­na­ging to in­no­va­te pro­duc­ts and ser­vi­ces, stay­ing ahead of mar­ket re­quests”.

See Ita­ly: What is the plus to be pro­mo­ted?

“What may tru­ly ma­ke the dif­fe­ren­ce for the sec­tor is wor­king to re­lo­ca­te the ho­tel as the fo­cal point of the tou­ri­st ex­pe­rien­ce. Clien­ts mu­st start to see it not ju­st as a so­mewhe­re to sleep af­ter long trips, but ra­ther as so­mewhe­re to spend ti­me du­ring their stay, ma­king use of the pu­blic areas, re­stau­rant, bar and spa, all im­por­tant in­co­me ge­ne­ra­tors for the ho­tel. We need to work on a chan­ge in ap­proa­ch and, by no means less im­por­tant, rework what we of­fer and put in pla­ce hi­gh le­vel an­cil­la­ry ser­vi­ces wi­thout for­get­ting that a stur­dy in­te­gra­tion wi­th the lo­cal area mu­st al­ways be pre­ser­ved".

See Ita­ly: Are we rea­dy for chan­ge?

We are luc­ky to ha­ve top le­vel bu­si­nes­ses on the Ita­lian ho­tel pa­no­ra­ma among our clien­ts. The­se bu­si­nes­ses ha­ve plan­ned me­dium/long-term in­vest­men­ts and on their part we ha­ve seen great de­di­ca­tion and per­se­ve­ran­ce, whi­ch ha­ve led them to ma­ke choi­ces that are at ti­mes an­ti-cy­cli­cal. This means that they are on to­day’s mar­ket wi­th all the right bo­xes tic­ked for brin­ging re­sul­ts, in other words wi­th struc­tu­ral, tech­no­lo­gi­cal, le­gi­sla­tion and pro­duct adap­ta­tions. Our pro­ject is al­so mo­ving pre­ci­se­ly in this di­rec­tion, ai­ming to work along­si­de en­tre­pre­neurs in their in­vest­ment choi­ces”.

See Ita­ly: What new di­gi­tal pro­jec­ts is Uni­Cre­dit Start Lab de­di­ca­ting to the sec­tor?

Start Lab is a pro­ject that the bank has be­lie­ved in sin­ce 2009. The star­tups we se­lect eve­ry year re­cei­ve awards in Ita­ly and abroad and ma­ny of them ha­ve been tur­ned in­to suc­ces­sful bu­si­nes­ses. In the tou­ri­sm sec­tor, fer­ment around the issue is mo­re

in­ten­se than in other sec­tors as the im­pact of di­gi­tal ar­ri­ved ear­lier wi­th tru­ly ex­plo­si­ve re­sul­ts. We ha­ve ma­de a choice, aware of the im­por­tan­ce of our bu­si­nes­ses’ tech­no­lo­gi­cal adap­ta­tion. We ha­ve de­ci­ded to di­stri­bu­te the star­tup pro­duct de­ve­lo­ped by Tra­vel Ap­peal in our agen­cies. This soft­ware mo­ni­tors the web re­pu­ta­tion of ho­tels and re­stau­ran­ts to sup­port stra­te­gic de­ci­sion by en­tre­pre­neurs in the sec­tor. We will con­ti­nue scou­ting for new ideas and new star­tups th­rou­ghout 2016, to en­ri­ch and ma­ke our ran­ge of ser­vi­ces and pro­duc­ts in­crea­sin­gly mo­re in­no­va­ti­ve”.

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