MANUEL RIEGO

M Style - - The Observatory - VICE PRES­I­DENT OF GLOBAL DIG­I­TAL SALES & MAR­KET­ING AT MELIÁ HO­TELS IN­TER­NA­TIONAL

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.

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