Entitled "Committed to our tourism" and presenting results from more than 3,000 surveys in 7 countries, the leading Spanish hotel company pinpoints the factors that are most valued by our feeder markets when they travel to Spain.
The Vice Chairman and CEO of Meliá, Gabriel Escarrer, presented today the first study published by the Meliá Hotels International Tourism Studies Chair to raise awareness about the "Levers of Competitiveness in the Tourism Industry" to which the hotel company aims to contribute. Accompanied by figures such as the Brand Spain High Commissioner, Carlos Espinosa de los Monteros, the Director General of Turespaña, Marta Blanco, and Executive Vice President of Exceltur, Jose Luis Zoreda, Escarrer described the factors that comprise the experience of tourists in Spain mainly in regard to customer service.
"The most important of our corporate values at Meliá is our service vocation", said Escarrer,"and that is why we are very much aware of the importance of excellent service to meet the needs of our guests and earn their loyalty." The study finds that customer service and the intangible attributes that define the character and style of Spanish life represent 30% of the overall experience of tourists in Spain, and also analyzes aspects that generate less satisfaction as well as the attributes most highly valued by our main feeder markets and our position in each of them compared to our competitors.
The study was carried out amongst European tourists that have visited Spain once or more and involved 3,000 interviews of 7 nationalities with a statistical accuracy above 98%. Although some of the findings corroborate previous findings (such as the high value of Spain as a tourist destination), other results indicate a change in the way international travellers feel about Spain:
• Despite high ratings in "tangible" factors such as climate, beaches, nature, cultural heritage and gastronomy, the Spanish, although with a remarkable satisfaction, are not meeting the high expectations in terms of "customer service".
• As a strength, the most frequently and spontaneously mentioned attributes in regard to Spain as a destination are the sea, beach, cuisine and culture, as well as hospitality, kindness, friendly people and pleasantness.
• The destination brands most frequently mentioned are, in this order and with a huge difference between them: Barcelona (Top 5), Madrid (Top 20) and Mallorca (Top 40). The Canary Islands, Ibiza, Benidorm, Granada, Seville, Tenerife, Compostela, Marbella, Malaga, Menorca and Valencia follow them in a ranking in which Catalonia is far behind Barcelona.
• The classic stereotypes (bulls, flamenco, sangria) do not form part of the 30 attributes mentioned spontaneously.
• With regard to service, the worst rated values are related to the professionalism of human resources: languages, professional skills, destination knowledge and knowledge in general, efficiency and resolutive capacity, etc.
• The study cited a gap between the demanded service level and the actual satisfaction level, which is getting greater as consumer demands grow requiring a reflection on the needs of Spain to "compete on quality " by increasing the excellence of supply.
• Although Spain maintains a comfortable competitive advantage in European markets over other competing destinations in the Mediterranean, it needs to enhance its strengths and improve in the areas identified.
• The British and Germans especially appreciate the sun, cuisine and Spanish hospitality and kindness. Italians appreciate the fun, joy and warmth. Russian tourists, on the other hand, choose us for virtually everything, which makes it likely that this issuer market will continue its unstoppable growth in the coming years.
In the section on conclusions and challenges for the Spain travel brand, the Meliá Vice President stressed the commitment to research to contribute to the overall competitiveness of an industry which is the "engine for growth" in Spain and to help provoke "action" in the most influential public and private organisations. Our tourism model he said "should move towards greater excellence, and this means we cannot have professionals that are any less than excellent." Furthermore, he added,"Spain cannot just be a "commodity" destination that benefits from problems in northern Africa, but rather a first-class tourism brand internationally and a model of excellence in itself."
The Brand Spain High Commissioner, Carlos Espinosa de los Monteros, praised the value of the study, and recalled the strengths of the Spain Brand and its great contribution to Tourism. "We are the best in warm values - as hospitality and proximity - and must also fight to become the best professionals", he added. For her part, the Director General of Turespaña, Marta Blanco, highlighted the opportunity the great moment our tourism has been going through in 2013 to prepare for “a future with many more competitors and with the need to differentiate ourselves through quality and excellence." José Luis Zoreda, Executive Vice President of Exceltur, added that "improving the tourist information and knowledge of our customers, who are increasingly demanding in these areas, is essential. The Melia study contributes to this purpose and puts the focus on the need for strengthened public-private cooperation to differentiate ourselves through excellence".