The increase in international tourism, after two summers marked by the restrictions derived from the pandemic, returns the sector to 2019 figures, as reflected in the increase in spending and hotel occupancy. While the big firms have held on thanks to their financial muscle, the smaller hotel companies have been forced to be creative to reinvent themselves despite the adverse circumstances.
In an economic context marked by the price increase and the upsurge in growth prospects, some such as the hotel brand EIK Hotels chose to go ahead and even manage a new opening in the midst of a pandemic, as explained by its director of operations, Luis Mijares Agulló for this newspaper.
How has it been managing a new opening in the midst of a pandemic?
We always thought that the pandemic would be temporary, so we trusted the roadmap that we had drawn up in our strategic plan. However, decision-making had to be modulated in a changing and unstable environment. In Seville, with Aquitania Home Suites, we tackle the challenge of opening an establishment in an adverse start-up situation, but our clients have responded by improving our own expectations and valuing the experience very positively.
What measures has the hotel sector in Spain taken to avoid the lack of foreign tourists due to the pandemic?
If we see it from the perspective of 2020, the uncertainty was very great and the mobility limitations made it impossible to think about the foreign client, so we all focused our energy on convincing the national client, who once again lent a hand to this sector, in addition to attending especially to people who for work reasons were forced to move. In spite of everything, the different waves that followed prevented proper attention to our national and business clients, a situation that has not been normalized until recently.
What differences are found in pre-pandemic and post-pandemic tourism?
It is still early to answer this question, the post-pandemic period is not significant enough to have a comparison with tourism prior to 2020, which was at a peak. What we do know today is that production costs have risen significantly and contrary to what it may seem, they have not been passed on to sales prices, therefore the operating profits of tourism in 2019 will have nothing to do with do with those planned for this year.
To what extent are vacation rentals affecting the hotel industry?
Until now, the lack of regulation has had a significant impact on the income of tourist establishments that comply with current regulations, it also promotes the gentrification of cities and the consumption of public resources with little redistribution of income from these businesses.
It seems that the administrations have become aware of the scope of the problem posed by the proliferation of holiday homes outside the legal framework, which is why they have decided to implement greater regulation of them, which will favor the coexistence of both models.
Why is tourism picking up despite inflation and its consequent loss of purchasing power? What impact will it have on the Spanish economy for the next quarter?
We understand that this situation is due to the concurrence of several factors. On the one hand, the widespread desire to travel after two years of forced hiatus, a greater capacity for saving by families caused by a significant injection of liquidity, the effort of the sector not to transfer production costs to sales prices and Lastly, the reactivation of tour operations, which has brought with it the contracting of large international trips, cultural, sports and MICE events.
Regarding our forecasts for the next quarter, according to the data we have and despite the fact that the reserves contracted to date do not predict a change in trend for the last quarter, the current inflationary situation, the rise in interest rates, the The energy and raw materials crisis makes us cautious regarding the evolution until the end of the year and the possible impact on demand for the next 2023.
How does a small independent Spanish hotel group face the offer of large international groups?
We are aware of the interest that Spain has as a destination for large hotel groups and large national and international funds and of the concentration that is taking place in the sector. Faced with this situation, we exploit our singularity, the agility and adaptability that our smaller size provides us, by basing our businesses on human capital, which is why we seek to associate ourselves with establishments whose business culture is aligned with ours.
The smaller size gives us a more customer-focused vision and stable long-term relationships, both with our customers and with our collaborators. We believe that knowing the people who surround our businesses generate quality and trustworthy relationships, providing a differential value, which guarantees long-term stability in income based on the loyalty of our client portfolio and the personalization of the services offered.