The new customer relationship strategy is the driving force behind a comprehensive transformation of the Company, which will also revolutionize the lives of employees and relationships with investors and hotel owners
The digital challenge is transforming the way companies interact with their customers, and especially in travel and hospitality, where the new digital paradigm plays an even greater role. According to Google, in summer 2014, more than half of the searches related to travel and tourism in Spain were made through mobile devices.
Melia has spent many years leading online development in the industry and melia.com has become its most important sales channel, recording annual sales growth of 25% over the last three years. Melia.com has been an essential lever to improve performance, weather the economic crisis, and generate increases in RevPAR (Revenue per Available Room), with the Spanish hotel company outperforming all other major international brands in RevPAR growth in recent years.
Melia aims one again to anticipate the future and lead the technological evolution in the industry to optimize customer relationships and boost satisfaction, and thus maximize hotel profitability.
The objective is that by 2017, 40% of Company revenues come from its direct sales channels, particularly from members of its Melia Rewards loyalty programme. In parallel, other channels are also expected to grow and contribute the remaining 60% of revenues. All in all, in 2015 online channels in general (direct channels, Online Travel Agencies and Online Tour Operators) will already surpass offline or more traditional channels.
Central sales evolution
For Jose María Dalmau, SVP Business Development at Melia: "Our digital transformation is not an option, we can only choose between leading the transformation or being dragged along by it. We have chosen the former."
Steps towards transformation
The Melia digital transformation is not limited to the sales or customer relations, but will extend to the entire hotel value chain and will focus on three key areas:
- Customers: the Meliá Digital project will transform all of the interactions: with the end customer (B2C) through the development of melia.com and mobile applications; with professional customers (B2B) by developing the MeliaPro programme; and for business trips thanks to Business Travel by Melia, which currently has 125,000 registered companies. The revolution also extends to the hotel front desk as customers may, amongst other innovations, check in using their phones or tablets.
- Employees: the digital transformation of the sales force was launched during the Company Global Sales Convention, held last week at the Melia Villaitana in Alicante. More than 300 members of the sales team witnessed the digital change and also the new features of a "Meliá Sales App" which brings together in a single tablet App all of the tools needed by the sales team. Meliá is also implementing digital projects in all areas of management such as finance, expansion, human resources, etc.
- Hotel owners and investors: one of the most important projects to cater to stakeholders – whose importance continues to grow as Melia adds more hotels under management to its portfolio under its Strategic Plan - includes the creation of a new owner portal with extensive information about the Company and its products, access to owner benefits and to their personal reservations.
The Melia Digital project will be led by the new VP of Global Digital Sales & Marketing, Lluis Pons, who was previously head of digital strategy and marketing at Vueling, achieving excellent results.
The multinational Accenture group, leader in consultancy and digital transformation, has also joined the project providing skills, technology and experience in digital transformation in the hospitality industry worldwide. Its experience and extensive international presence will undoubtedly be of vital importance to adapting the strategy to the 43 countries in which it Melia currently operates.
Leading digital transformation
Major investments in five key transformation areas
Melia Digital is backed by an in the project over the next three years of around €100 million, focused on five major areas: strengthening the team (recently increased by 30 people), technology, digital marketing, boosting the Melia Rewards loyalty programme, and the partnership with Accenture.
As Jose Maria Dalmau explains, "the major revolution is the personalization of our value proposition to customers: multidevice technology, customization and prediction engines, and new digital marketing platforms all enable a true customization of the customer experience at all times during the so-called "customer journey", (preparation of the trip, booking, travelling, and post-travel). I believe Melia Digital to be a pioneering and innovative project which will require a strong base in technology, but also a different mentality in our people, a new way of thinking, a new "digital culture". It is a project that a global hotel company requires to ensure it maintains and enhances its market leadership into the future."