How have the models of sales management and customer relationships changed in the hospitality world?
Our relationship with the customer has become a one-to-one communication model based on knowledge and personalisation. Immediacy is increasingly important, and the mobile has transformed the way we interact with customers (this past year we’ve had more visits to our mobile site than to our ‘traditional’ website).
In recent years we’ve experienced a significant change, which has been very much in line with consumers’ new buying habits. We must take into account that 10 years ago companies like Facebook, Trivago, TRIPADVISOR and Booking.com either did not exist or had just come into being, and yet today they are a fundamental part of hotel companies’ distribution and sales models. These companies are our new sales partners, as they enable us to get to know the customer comprehensively and therefore to send them the best offer at the right time, and at a price that resonates.
The Meliá group is a company with over 60 years of history. How are you managing the transition to digitalisation?
In three fundamental areas, the first of which is digital tools and technology. We’ve invested in technology that allows us to be very efficient at managing information and sending our customers personalised offers in real time. In recent years we’ve been able to incorporate DMPs and big data tools in order to manage the huge amount of information we have and make it useful for the customer. These include bidding tools for optimising our investments in search engines and OTAs, as well as ad servers that let us know how and to whom we communicate best. All of this allows us to become increasingly efficient in our approach to the market. The second area is processes. With customers becoming increasingly connected, it has been essential to break down the barriers between different areas of customer interaction. We’re moving forward with an omnichannel
CRM model that allows us to tell a consistent story at all points of the customer journey, in order to promote a ‘customer centric’ vision across all our processes. The third area is talent. A great effort is being made to attract, transform and maintain the best talent. We live in a highly digital world, but people are becoming more and more important. Specialisation is essential, and we’re no longer competing with only other hotel chains for talent, but also with ‘new’ companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon. This forces us to be increasingly innovative in order to retain our employees. In light of this, we’ve made plans for training and transformation; we’ve transformed our spaces with more digital methods; and we’ve incorporated ‘agile techniques’ that enable us to retain a highly qualified technical team.
Where is this leading us?
In the digital world it’s very difficult to make a clear prediction of where we’re headed, but what is clear is that we’re continuing to move towards a highly connected world, where the mobile phone is at the centre of all our actions, and everything is based on the optimisation of the data that our new technologies afford us—always with the aim of personalising what we offer to our customers.
“Customers send us lots of signals, and today’s technology enables us to transform this information into offers.”
To what extent are social media networks important to the group? They’re very important, and we were recently recognised as one of the hotel chains with the greatest influence on social media. Social media is a channel that allows us to have a two-way relationship with our customers, to speak with them, understand them and use that information to improve what we offer. Reputation is critical; we live in a very transparent world where the opinions of other users are much more important than what the companies themselves are saying. That’s why social media is so important, and is such a clear driver of the digital success of hospitality companies.
What are the company’s current percentages of online and offline sales?
By the end of 2018, 70% of sales will be made through digital channels, with a large part of them occurring through melia.com.
What must a company do nowadays to attract new guests?
We must understand customers’ habits and personalise what we offer in each of the micro-moments we have with them. Customers send us lots of signals, and today’s technology enables us to transform this information into offers with high added value.