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India’s rising significance in Melia’s global expansion strategy

Mahmoud Abdelnaby, the Director of Business Development for Melia Hotels International in the Asia Pacific (APAC), Middle East, and Africa (MEA) region

Melia Hotels International proactively enlarges its property portfolio with the introduction of new establishments, aligning with its strategic growth blueprint. Mahmoud Abdelnaby, the Director of Business Development for Melia Hotels International in the Asia Pacific (APAC), Middle East, and Africa (MEA) region, offers perspective.

– Prativa V Bhalla

Originating as a family business almost 60 years ago in a small Mediterranean island has now grown into a global presence in 40+ countries across four continents. With 347 hotels worldwide, Melia continues to thrive.

Mahmood emphasised Melia’s unwavering commitment to preserving Spanish service traditions across all their brands. “Our commitment is evident in every Melia hotel, with guests experiencing the Spanish touch and a warm atmosphere and this presence of our unique Spanish service defines Melia Hotels’ approach” stated Mahmoud.

India holds a crucial position in their global strategy, and Melia continuously strives to understand its market dynamics and trends with thoughtfully executed Roadshows to achieve these goals. Their first post-pandemic sales mission was in November 2022 and during their recent 2023 Multi-City Tour, Mahmoud clearly defined their objectives. “Firstly, we aim to express sincere gratitude to our partners for their invaluable support. Secondly, we were committed to actively promoting our hotels and providing thorough updates to our travel partners regarding property developments. This encompasses the introduction of new hotel offerings and a focus on gaining market insights into property performance.”

The Indian market has seen a significant 60 per cent increase in the EDR (Effective Daily Rate) and a rise in room rates, particularly for business and luxury rooms. Suites are the first to get booked, and longer stays have become a continuous trend. These trends have persisted since the Indian market reopened in early 2022. Tier 1 cities in India, like Delhi, Mumbai, and Ahmedabad, outperform others, while tier 2 cities are closing the performance gap.

India’s visitor segment includes MICE, family celebrations, and FIT elite luxury travellers. The MICE segment is a top priority, covering corporate business travellers, corporate groups, and incentive groups. MICE events often host 300 to 400 attendees while family celebrations often mirror this group size. Additionally, they cater to FIT elite luxury travellers. All three segments are equally vital and require focused attention.

Melia offers various hotel categories. Luxury, comprising Gran Melia, Melia Collection, Me by Melia, and Paradisus, accounts for 12 per cent per cent of the total 347 hotels. The premium segment, encompassing Melia Hotels and Resorts and the new Zel brand founded by tennis player Rafa Nadal, makes up 48 per cent per cent. Falcon is the theme park hotel brand with its first location in the Dominican Republic. Innside represents corporate 4 to 5-star hotels in city centres, while Essentials is affiliated, and Sol is dedicated to beachfront locations. Melia is expanding its presence in Vietnam with the Grand Melia in Nha Trang, offering oceanfront villas and ranking among the finest Gran Melia properties in Asia. Currently, they have 13 hotels in Vietnam, with more in the pipeline, making them the largest hotel chain in the country, totalling around 22 hotels. New properties are opening in Malta, Dubai, Milan, and ongoing talks for Saudi Arabia.

With 50 to 55 hotels slated for opening by the next year the Melia advantage lies in its diverse portfolio of products, effectively competing with a wide range of luxury and essential brands. Many of their hotels are strategically positioned within UNESCO-designated sites or affiliated with prestigious organisations like Leading Hotels of the World and luxury consortia. This approach enables Melia to offer a broad spectrum of luxury and essential accommodations under the Melia brand, meeting diverse market preferences.

Promotion of their properties in India is mainly through the B2B MeliaPro portal, encouraging partner sign-ups for instant access, including direct confirmation and availability, with higher commissions for resort or city hotels, FAM trips and road shows. In MeliaPro, the platform offers 16 per cent commission for resorts and 12 per cent for urban hotels. Exclusive promotional offers are available to registered users. The majority of room bookings originate from OTT and direct online travel agents.

Melia collaborates with certified sustainable organisations, emphasising their commitment to sustainability. They offer certificates to MICE groups for reducing carbon footprints when hosting events at eco-friendly hotels. Many hotels source locally to lower their environmental impact. Participants receive certificates and redeemable points. Melia’s approach prioritises responsible management to combat climate change and protect destinations through innovation, technology, and strategic partnerships.