Melia Won't Come Without the Right Partner

Ruben Casas of Melia Hotels, Spain's largest hotel company with over 375 hotels worldwide welcomes Indian tourists, though confessed entering the market as an operator has its own set of challenges.

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MELIA HOTELS International is one of Spain's largest companies, the first hotel company to be listed in the Spanish Stock Exchange. It also happens to be the first Spanish hotel company to have a key presence in Asia, in markets like China, as well as the Middle East as well as Latin and North America.

We spoke with Ruben Casas, the Senior Director Sales and Marketing, Asia Pacific, a region which is playing an important role in the company's future. Casas began by explaining his visits to India,"the reason to be here in the Indian market is obviously because of the potential that we have seen in the last year (Melia set up a Sales office in 2016) in the outbound potential because we don't yet have any hotel in India".

As far as expecting the company to enter the market as a hotel operator, Casas was more circumspect, "India is a very specific and special market and you need to have the resources right here, you can't handle India from Shanghai. We can do that for Myanmar. But for India, you have to be in Delhi or Mumbai".

"We always say from a company perspective that we are just trying to get the right partner, the right developer who will sign a deal with a minimum number of hotels that makes sense to put out footprint in our country," he added.

The main reason for Melia's presence is the outbound business which is very healthy, since Melia as a chain can provide a fit for the whole range of travellers. "We have hotels in all the categories. We get groups who pay 500 Euro a day for a week and then we have also clients who stay in our budget brands paying 75-80 Euro a day. We can feed all of our brands to the Indian market," he said.

"Melia International is very well known because of its passion for service. We are very client-oriented and our model is 'everything is possible'. This is something we really try to deliver. The other thing which is our forte is the Mediterranean touch which we deliver through the F&B. the amenities, the decor and much more. This makes us distinct. We are the 'expert' in the Mediterranean," he added.

The hotel chain is a family-owned business which has a very strong presence all over Europe, the Caribbean, Latin America and a growing presence in North America and South East Asia. It currently has 375 properties in some of the most interesting destinations. In Asia, these include China, Indonesia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Thailand and Malaysia, Casas said.

"For India, we have two different strategies. One is for travel professionals and surrounds sales missions, the other is to increase our brand awareness among the end user, which we do through our digital strategy and different digital environment, where we have a very strong presence. We also have a very good PR and communications network all over the world which works to make the country aware of the brand as well," he said in conclusion.


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