A Mexican Company with International StandardsBy Gabriela Mastache | Wed, 11/13/2019 - 15:51
Q: How do Grupo Real Turismo’s (GRT) different brands complement each other to present a more complete offer to clients?
A: In 2000, Grupo Empresarial Ángeles bought Camino Real hotels. One year after, we realized that we needed to make a business-class brand to reach other markets. Grupo Empresarial Ángeles then bought Quinta Real and in 2012 created Real Inn to grow in other destinations. At Camino Real Polanco, our flagship hotel, we have 712 rooms and 30 conference rooms. Camino Real was our first brand and it has the biggest market penetration.
Eventually, we are going to build a Conference Room with more square meters to host conferences and conventions in Mexico City. Those kinds of hotels, like the ones we have at the airport, in Santa Fe and Tijuana, have highlighted the need for such a product. Regardless of the environment in the industry, we are one of the least affected because those hotels have allowed us to have more stability. As a result, we want to focus on our first brand and will change our name from Grupo Real Turismo to Camino Real Hotels as we establish a global reach.
We also want to keep Quinta Real hotels, which are luxury hotels like the ones we have in Monterrey, Huatulco and Acapulco. With Camino Real, we want to focus on primary markets, so our Quinta Real in Tijuana, for example, is going to turn into Camino Real. We own 75 percent of our inventory, unlike other operators. Our goal is not to grow exponentially but to take firm steps in primary destinations.
In May, we will open a Quinta Real hotel in Torreon, Coahuila, this is a place where we already have experience. In November 2020, we are going to open a Camino Real hotel in Merida that is already under construction. It will have 126 rooms, offices and a shopping mall.
Q: What advantage does being a Mexican company provide when competing against other large hotel chains?
A: As a Mexican company, we have tailored our offering to domestic travelers, for example, Camino Real has distinguished itself by the quality of its food and beverages and we do not want to stop being a reference in that area. We have seven restaurants, all of them of high quality, and we want to keep investing in our banquet service, which represents a good income for the company. US companies, especially those competing in the four-star market, have limited food services, which gives us an advantage.
Q: How has economic uncertainty impacted the tourism sector?
A: NAIM’s cancellation has been bad for us, as well as the seaweed problem in the Caribbean region. Overall, 2019 has not been the best year; tourism GDP is almost 1 percent below last year in 4Q19 and according to INEGI, 3Q19 recorded some of the lowest results since 2011.
Tourism is among Mexico’s leading industries but it has not been a priority for the new government. The country has been a favored destination for international travelers but the current lack of promotion is making travelers look elsewhere. We are worried but it is also a unique opportunity for us. We cannot sit still and wait to see what actions the government will take.
Q: How should success be measured in the tourism sector, from a private company’s perspective?
A: As of August 2019, 64 million international travelers had come to Mexico, a decrease of over 20 percent against the previous year. The way of measuring arrivals has changed and now all travelers are considered, even if they just come for medical reasons and do not spend a single night in the country. I do not think they should be considered; tourism should be measured based on who stays at least one night in any city in the country.
On the visitmexico.com webpage there are several chambers and associations, as well as hotel chains. However, the most significant promotions come from the private sector. It is investing and trying to convince the government to bet on new projects. This has also helped the industry to be more unified. For the economy and the tourism sector, the domestic market is always important; internal consumption is important yet it has been neglected for many reasons. We are working to re-establish the domestic market. The Minister of Tourism is an ambassador for Mexico both domestically and internationally but at the moment, we all need to act as ambassadors for our country.
Q: What are Grupo Real Turismo’s priorities for the next few years?
A: We have financial strength and we are calm despite the current troubled economic waters. We are about to repay debt and then we will increase our EBITDA, which will allow us to reschedule debt and apply for credit. We are investing MX$500 million (US$25.2 million) in remodeling Camino Real Polanco and Quinta Real Monterrey. We are remodeling 400 rooms, the bar, lobby, bathrooms and elevators because now is the time to do it. Our app and webpage are also great bets on a business intelligence system. We are getting ready to face what is coming in terms of digitalization.
Grupo Real Turismo will be positioned as the best company for Mexican travelers, following international standards. We are a hospitality reference in the industry and the best option for foreign travelers looking for something local.
Grupo Real Turismo, part of Grupo Empresarial Ángeles, has 40 hotels with a total of more than 6,885 rooms in 27 destinations located in cities and beach areas in Mexico. It manages the Camino Real, Quinta Real and Real Inn brands