This year sees Meliá Hotels International, a multinational player in the global hotel market, celebrate 60 years in the business. Hotel Management International charts its rise from a revolutionary one-property portfolio in Mallorca to a leading light in innovative, responsible tourism in 40 countries around the world.
In 1956, the chairman of Meliá Hotels International, Gabriel Escarrer Juliá, rented a small hotel in Palma de Mallorca, a city that continues to proudly host a company that has now become a powerful multinational group.
From 60 years ago to today, the international travel and tourism industry has changed almost beyond recognition - new leading destinations in previously unknown corners of the globe, emerging countries that are signing up to mass tourism, the globalisation of the travel industry thanks to the internet - all of this has also led to very profound changes in the hotel industry.
Meliá Hotels International has been a pioneer and played a leading role in this six-decade-long journey - firstly by leading hotel development in the Balearic Islands, the Canary Islands and along the Spanish coast, and then by crossing the oceans to boost tourism in destinations such as Bali, the Dominican Republic, Mexico and Cuba, among many others.
Today, Meliá Hotels International manages more than 370 hotels, with nearly 100,000 rooms in 40 countries, and employs more than 42,000 people. It ranks 17th in the list of the world's largest hotel chains, is the third-largest chain in Europe and has been chosen as the travel company with the best corporate reputation for the third consecutive year. All of this has been achieved while also respecting the principles of responsible tourism, promoting the sustainable development of the communities in which it operates and creating long-term value for all its stakeholders.
The capacity for innovation and transformation has always been among the greatest strengths of the group. Early on, this vision allowed it to meet challenges such as the boom in mass tourism, and later developed with the creation of a varied portfolio of brands and the launch of melia.com, the first hotel website with online reservations in Europe - which still remains a benchmark for innovation and the digital transformation of the industry 20 years on.
This vision remains important to this day, as seen in projects such as the relaunch of the Sol Hotels brand, the doyen of the resort industry in the Mediterranean area, which is transforming hotels focused on the distribution network and volume into hotels that are increasingly differentiated and customer focused, with a growing lifestyle component, thanks to concepts such as Sol House, Sol Beach House and Sol Katmandu hotels. There is also the leadership in the business leisure, or 'bleisure', segment in the best city hotels, allowing Meliá Hotels International to optimise hotel occupancy, average rates and additional revenues thanks to the experience and value proposition offered to new market segments.
Throughout the years, the company has developed and implemented a new organisational and business model to facilitate alignment with company strategy and, thanks to more-efficient management, the important organic growth the company expects to achieve. This new model is based on four business areas: Asia-Pacific, Club Meliá, hotels and real estate.
There is active cooperation between these areas and they are also highly complementary in their activities to achieve the company's strategic challenge: to become an increasingly global company, with growth in the most relevant brands and markets - especially through management, lease and franchise agreements - with a special focus on Asia and maximising the profitability of its assets.
The coordination of activities and development allows the chain to offer a wide range of products to clients, thus earning one of the most important assets for any business group: customer loyalty.