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Sabina Fluxá Thienemann

SPAIN - Tourism

Sabina Fluxá Thienemann

Vice-Chairman & CEO, Iberostar Group


Sabina Fluxá has broad experience within tourism, with expertise in innovative business and environmental, social, and governance leadership (ESG). She is Vice-Chairman of the Spanish Family Business Network, member of the Regional Advisory Board of BBVA and member of the Governing Board of APD Balearic Islands. As CEO of Iberostar, Sabina Fluxá is leading the transformation of the company based on talent, digitalization and innovation. Together with her father Miguel Fluxá, Chairman and founder of Iberostar, and sister Gloria Fluxà, Vice-Chairman & Chief Sustainability Officer, they are positioning the Group as a global reference in responsible tourism, focused on caring for people and the environment. The Wave of Change movement reflects this commitment of the company and the wish to share it with the whole society.

What does it mean for Grupo Iberostar to have its origin in Mallorca and how would you describe the connection between the success of the island as a tourist destination […]

What does it mean for Grupo Iberostar to have its origin in Mallorca and how would you describe the connection between the success of the island as a tourist destination and the consolidation of Grupo Iberostar as one of the most important hotel chains? 
Our origin as a family business group dates back to 1877, when my great-grandfather founded one of the first footwear industries in Mallorca. And we began our activity in the tourism sector with the acquisition of the Viajes Iberia travel agencies in the 1950s. Therefore, we have witnessed the socioeconomic development of the Balearic Islands and we are proud to have been part of this evolution. We’ve gone global, running today more than 100 hotels across 16 countries, but we remain a family business, closely connected to our origins. Mallorca is, without a doubt, a destination with a special attraction and beauty, and the fact that it has such good flight connections with Europe, has positioned it as a strategic holiday destination. We’ve updated and refurbished our hotels, constantly reinvesting the profits, with the aim of maintaining our quality guarantee. Both quality and sustainability are two central axes in our business model, and we are champions of value-added tourism.

COVID19 has highlighted the need to rethink tourism. How does Grupo Iberostar conceive responsible tourism and what high-impact actions are you carrying out? 
The pandemic has reaffirmed our vision regarding our path towards a responsible tourism model within Iberostar Group. We launched a pioneering movement five years ago called Wave of Change, which has acted as a catalyst for this vision, and it hasn’t slowed down these last 24 months—quite the opposite. We have set ourselves some very ambitious goals through our very own 2030 agenda, from the point of view of the circular economy: to be free of waste in 2025 in our hotel operations; to be carbon neutral by 2030 (20 years earlier than what was agreed by the sector); to consume 100% of seafood sourced responsibly by 2025, prioritising both environmental sustainability and the subsistence of communities and the application of safe work practices; and lastly, to invest in the health of marine ecosystems in the destinations where we operate. In relation to the different commitments made, we have announced the creation of the first department in the tourism sector to eliminate waste in hotels, the 3R teams (Reduce – Reuse – Recycle), which already include more than 130 people and which we are implementing in 41 Group hotels around the world. We are also taking steps towards carbon neutrality, committing to reduce our energy consumption in all our hotels at a global level by 8% in 2022. In addition, this year, all of our hotels in Spain will use electricity from renewable energies with Guarantee of Origin. Regarding the responsible consumption of seafood, this year, we have reached 88% of our target in Spain, 100% in Mexico and 70% across all our hotels as a whole. Lastly, we continue to work—from a solid scientific basis—on identifying, protecting and restoring coastlines, seagrass beds, coral reefs, mangroves and other ecosystems in both Europe and America. This is a point of no return that involves working with public bodies, our suppliers and other stakeholders. Employee training has been paramount, as it has led to the transformation of many business processes, and the truth is that we’re very proud of our teams when we observe the progress we’ve made. Meanwhile, we’re also transferring this vision to our customer experience, innovating and developing our offer and services, including gastronomy and entertainment programmes, just to give a few examples.

The tourism sector is accelerating its digitalisation process. What would be your assessment of the efforts that hotels are making in this field and, more specifically, Grupo Iberostar? 
Our support of digitalisation is a fundamental lever for the Group. Technology helps us expand our knowledge of customers in order to better adapt the hotel experience. In addition, thanks to technology, we have developed greater business intelligence, thus optimising our revenue. Thirdly, it has allowed us to improve many processes and become more streamlined. To give you an example, in 2021 we launched Hotel Digital, a pioneering open innovation project in the tourism sector, with the participation of 25 leading national and international companies. With this project, we have streamlined management and improved our customer experience in the hotel, thanks to the application of technology. We want to implement real, scalable innovation that adds value, that substantially modifies indicators relating to consumer experiences and the processes of gathering information to enrich such experiences. 

How do you see the tourism sector developing by 2030?
As I said before, we’ve been promoting a responsible tourism model for many years now, one that finds the necessary balance between profitability and legacy. We have a very clear path and goals, and we are working to maximise our economic profitability because we need it to remain sustainable in the long term, while always looking out for people and the environment. It is crucial to surround yourself with the best talent. People are key to being able to offer quality tourism, which is what we believe in. And for that, we invest in training and development. It is very satisfying to see the impact it has on our people and local communities. Tourism that generates value in the communities in which we operate, and that contributes to the regeneration of the ecosystems that surround us, while also showing greater awareness against climate change. We face the responsibility of deciding how we want to be remembered and what legacy we want to leave to future generations.



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