In 2014 Meliá Hotels International began the Meliá Digital project, a comprehensive transformation on a global and regional level to adapt to the new environment and business models in the travel industry.
Meliá has been a leader in online development in the industry for many years, and it was the first European hotel chain to offer online bookings in 1997. Ever since then, digital technology has continued to advance, and is no longer just an option for the Company. It is essential that we adapt to changes in the environment and maintain our leadership.
Thanks to the successful focus on the Meliá Digital project developed together with Accenture Interactive, a leader in consulting, technology and digital transformation, Meliá Hotels International has been named “Best Digital Transformation Enterprise” at the European Mindset Digital Awards 2016, which recognize the most innovative projects in the fields of customer experience, ICT management, and new digital business models.
To share our experience and the vision of a leading pioneer in digital development in Spain, the Senior Vice President of Sales at Meliá Hotels International, Jose Maria Dalmau, took part a few days ago in a major meeting hosted by the Economic Circle of Catalonia, with a brilliant presentation on business transformation in the Digital Era.
Dalmau analysed the influence of the digital paradigm on different sectors, highlighting how utilities and industry suffer a lesser degree of influence of digital technology in their business models, while technology companies, media and financial services, among others, have a high penetration and major dependence on digital. The hotel business – he explained – combines a hybrid experience between physical and digital.
From the point of view of e-commerce, the travel industry and fashion are the most affected by digital phenomena, and in 2015 travel reached a turning point when online sales were greater than offline or traditional sales for the first time in history. However, for the Meliá executive, companies that aim to compete in the new digital world have to go much further. For a long time companies have focused on digital development primarily as a powerful sales tool or a new marketing model, but we now know that the digital transformation has to involve organizational structures, processes, people, and culture.
In fact, José María Dalmau emphasized that a digital organization requires a different management style that promotes innovation, a flexible mentality to adapt day-to-day activities, a collaborative environment, and also a new way of managing people, empowering them, motivating them by recognizing “digital behaviour” and the digitalisation of processes and functions of talent management, training and human resources. An environment in which managers embrace disruption as part of their corporate DNA, and uncertainty management as a key factor in their strategy. For Dalmau, “the key position in the successful management of a digital transformation is the Director of Human Resources”.
Dalmau explained how in recent years Meliá Hotels International has taken decisive steps in this direction, promoting a cultural transformation that affects processes, organizational structure, relationship with hotel owners and investors, involving the Company’s entire value proposition. The most notable and immediate gains have been in the relationship with customers, as the new relationship model is designed as a genuine “customer journey”, ranging from the pre-trip experience, to the hotel stay itself, and the post-trip experience. The key to its success is the personalization of the customer experience in a consistent way throughout the journey, through the use of technology and advanced analytical models to enhance customer knowledge, product recommendation and personalisation, conversion and customer loyalty.
The digital transformation process is gaining momentum, as seen in results for 2015, with 96% higher sales through mobile devices than in 2014, 28% higher direct sales through melia.com, an increase of 36% in sales to travel agents through MeliáPro, and 30% greater revenue from Meliá Rewards loyalty programme members, after adding a million new members to the programme in 2015.
Meliá Digital is also getting more and more hotels integrated into digital channels and sophisticated digital marketing actions, with greater personalization of campaigns based on predictive models and customer knowledge that have helped increase conversion rates by 30% and generate a 45% increase in Call Centre sales in major markets.
As explained by the Senior Vice President of Sales for the Company, the messages from companies on digitalization have to change, eliminating any fear and enhancing the opportunities offered by the new model: “to become truly “digital”, companies have to change our perspective, taking advantage of new opportunities offered by the digital model to organize our work in a more efficient and flexible way. The change will also bring new attitudes, new roles, and specialist profiles that will benefit the organization through their skills, their capacity for innovation, and their culture. “