President & Managing Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts
Country Manager for Mexico & Cuba, NH Hotel Group
What is your view on the current state of the Mexican tourism industry?
ALEJANDRO MORENO Every change in an administration gives one the opportunity to focus on something new. Things have changed somewhat, but we have been enjoying a very strong year at Wyndham. We predicted reaching 60 more hotels by the end of 2019, which is exactly what we have achieved. We recently opened a property in Playa de Carmen. We have put ourselves exactly where we want to be in 2019. In 2020, we are scheduled to open a few new hotels as well, and we anticipate reaching 70-75 hotels by the end of the year. This represents a 10-12% increase YoY, and that is excellent growth for us. We are just getting started. We have made some changes in our brand identity. In 2019, we worked to make our brand more visible by including the “by Wyndham” endorsement in all of our brands. 2019 was a great year, and we expect this trend to continue over the next 15 months.
What strategies are you using to strengthen your franchise and managed hotel segments in Mexico?
MASSIMO BALDO NH Hotel Group was born in Spain, and since 2018, Minor International has owned 94% of the company, which is excellent news for us because we now have the ability to grow new brands. NH Hotels is mainly focused on corporate travelers and urban travelers. Now with Minor, we have five new brands, which means we can expand into the resort segment and in the vacation sector with brands such as Avani, Tivoli, Elawana, Oaks, and Anantara. This is important for us because Mexico offers many opportunities in these sectors. I am the managing director for Mexico and Cuba, and we currently operate 17 hotels in Mexico, almost 18 with an additional corporation in Cancún, and the two hotels in Habana. We have four more contracts in Mexico, so we will have a total of 22 hotels operating within the country. The objective is to reach a total of 32-35 hotels within the next three to four years. Mexico, like all other countries in the Americas, is volatile, so there might be great years or regular years. Still, the fundamentals needed for the tourism sector are solid.
Why has the company decided that now is a great time to invest in new hotels in Mexico?
AM We work in two different business models: the franchise segment and the managed hotel segment. On the managed side, we will open our first hotel, the five-star Wyndham Grand, in Mexico City. This hotel will be in an excellent location and will have more than 400 rooms. We will be the closest five-star hotel to the World Trade Center Mexico City, and this will give us great exposure. We also do new construction as well as hotel conversions. We have 20 brands, and 12 are already in Mexico. We are present in every segment one could possibly offer to travelers. This has been great for us, because we can place ourselves in different locations across the nation. We are accustomed to operating in economies that have slowed down, as has been the case in Mexico recently. The hotel industry is always operating in both the current and future environment. In Latin America, we have reached more than 230 hotels, and in 2020, we will reach 300 hotels. This is a large number, and we are competing on a large scale with numerous competitors. We currently manage 25 hotels in the region and anticipate reaching 35 by next year.
What differentiates the Mexican hotel industry in comparison to other countries?
MB Currently, we are facing a market that is growing very fast. Mexico is now the seventh place globally for foreign travelers, and we are almost closing 2019 with 42 million travelers. We are now suffering from oversupply, which makes it different from Colombia, where we have a large presence without much competition from international hotel chains. In Mexico, you have to deal with this issue. What makes one successful is their ability to provide excellent quality, service, and technology. We focus on these important factors. For example, we developed Fast Pass for NH; we are the only chain in the world that has developed it at this moment. It allows guests to check in, choose their room, and check out with a digital application.
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