The vice chairman and CEO of the Meliá Hotel group, which has properties in Dubai and Doha, has highlighted a number of challenges facing the hotel industry in the year ahead.
Gabriel Escarrer was speaking at the FITUR international tourism conference in Madrid, addressing a wide ranging number of issues from Brexit to geopolitical changes all the way across the globe.
“We have chosen international diversification, prioritising safe destinations such as Asia, the Caribbean and the Mediterranean,” he said, before addressing the impact Brexit will have on the international market.
“Although we do not expect a major impact on the UK feeder market, we will compensate the slowdown expected in high season and in more expensive segments with demand from other feeder markets.”
He added that Brexit is not the only challenge directly facing the industry on a global level. Issues including terrorism, instability, macroeconomic developments and the recent election of Donald Trump, as president of the United States, will all have to be factored in, said Escarrer.
His proposal to deal with the continuing fluctuations of the market is to build more brands. He added that the industry would have to keep on its toes if it was to avoid losing out to the sharing economy and the rise of the likes of Airbnb, which he referred to as “disruptive models”.
Another solution, according to Escarrer, is to enhance the brands, offering customers a better and personalised service. Enhancing the superior and luxury sector was also key, he said, while he identified the resort hotel sector as an area where vacation rental is not as competitive.
He said that while there is an industry wide trend towards mergers and acquisitions, Meliá is focusing on the resort segment and also forging strategic alliances for “growth and the repositioning of products”.