2008 saw the launch of the Strategic Plan 2008-2010 and the presentation of a new business model in line with the internal reorganisation begun in 2007.
The new Strategic Plan focuses on brands, the promotion of complementary businesses such as the Vacation Club, the focus on international expansion as a key to growth which will allow the intensification and improvement of brand awareness and a step change in the new organisational model and management culture. An important set of activities and projects are contained in the five strategic areas, allowing the process of change towards this new business model to begin and also counteracted the slowdown suffered in the second half of the year. .
The redefinition and modernisation of our brands in line with the expectations of our guests, a new management model and service culture for each brand which promotes awareness of them in our different markets and an increase in guest satisfaction are the key aims in this strategic area. The growth of our portfolio has provided us with important successes such as the opening of the Gran Meliá Palacio de Isora, a greater presence for the ME by Meliá brand in Spain with the opening of the ME Barcelona, and the renovation of well known hotels like the Meliá Barcelona, Meliá Sevilla, Meliá Madrid Princesa and the Meliá de Mar, flagships for the new brand standards and attributes.
The customer is the centre of all of our activities. Increasing the frequency of their stays and their loyalty in all of our businesses, including the Vacation Club, is one of the key features of the daily management of our hotels. Our focus on getting to know our customers better so that we can ensure we provide them with the products and services they expect and which better adapts to their buying habits are key to the design of CRM strategy (Customer Relationship Management). This year, the improved quality of our customer database, after having increased the degree of customer identification and knowledge, has allowed us to provide even greater support in product sales and ensure a market share above that of our competitors.
The real estate crisis unleashed in the second half of the year has slowed down expectations for growth in our portfolio of establishments with hotel and real estate services. In this period, despite the crisis, the bases for the future have been laid to enhance the value of the company in this area, beginning with the sale of new condo-hotel units in Spain at the Meliá Sol y Nieve, a product aligned with the new positioning of the brand.
This strategic areas is more of a priority today than ever before. The retention and development of talent allows us not only to act in a coordinated way in line with company needs, but also ensures the future of the organisation and its leadership. Sol Meliá employees are an essential part of the successes in every strategic area, ensuring the brand promises, quality service and personalised customer care. The talent and the training of our human team has allowed us to respond to the current situation and prioritise new areas of activity defined by the company as key to counteract the slowdown in the economy.
The new organisational model has become a means of development and promotion of our greatest asset – our employees– ensuring synergies between the different business areas and the brands, and promoting team work, innovation and creativity, key factors in the new market situation.
The commitment to social, environmental and cultural responsibility is of great value to our company today. The objective of the strategic area of sustainability is the integration of all of the criteria of sustainability in all of its policies, processes and rules in the day-to-day activities of the company today and in the future. The Sustainability Policy approved of by the Board of Directors is the cornerstone that articulates progress in this area.
All of these strategic areas remain valid and ongoing, but the slowdown in the economy and the significant impact it has had on consumption and, as a consequence, the reduction in travel by our customers, has meant that the Strategic Plan has had to be adapted to the current circumstances. The focus on four action areas designed to minimise the effects of the current situation on results and on the financial solvency of the company, are now an essential part of our daily activities.
The improvement and growth of revenues, the retention and loyalty of our guests, and the control of costs and expenditure, together with the delivery of brand promises and guarantee of guest expectations, plus risk management and safeguarding our balance sheet and financial solvency, are all basic pillars upon which all company activity currently rests. Amongst the contingency objectives are savings of 39 million euros, a reduction in investments to less than 100 million euros, growth in revenues and the enhancement of “other revenues”. All of these areas will strengthen the company and continue to provide value to all of our stakeholders.