Jorge Apaez
Chief Operating Officer for Mexico, Latin America & The Caribbean
IHG
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View from the Top

In Times of Uncertainty, National Tourism Becomes an Anchor

By Gabriela Mastache | Thu, 04/02/2020 - 12:08

Q: How has the tourism sector fared during the first months of the current presidential administration?

A: In parallel with the global performance of our industry, with several markets slowing down, Mexico experienced a slight decline in occupancy. Commercial tensions between the US and China, the delay to ratify the Mexican trade agreement with the US and Canada, and the traditional slower pace of the economy during the first year of a new term, all contributed to a deceleration.

Q: Where will IHG focus its efforts in the coming years, the domestic or international market?

A: Our hotels in Mexico welcome guests from all over the world, but our main focus to drive demand is in Mexico, the US, Canada and Latin America. Our loyalty program, IHG Rewards Club, allows us to target more than 100 million travelers, all over the world, while our advertising and promotions efforts in key markets, help us drive business into all our hotels.

Our Sales teams also attend the most important trade shows aimed at different market segments, in Mexico, the US and Latin America, representing all our hotels.

Q: SRE and SECTUR have announced the creation of a Diplomatic Tourism Council that will work alongside members of the private sector. What should be its objectives and metrics?

A: The main objectives should be to drive more qualified demand, attract more carriers, partner with intermediaries and, of course, showcase our wonderful leisure and business destinations across Mexico.

Q: What strategies is IHG implementing to mitigate the effects that external factors such as the arrival of seaweed to the Mexican Caribbean are generating?

A: We must recognize that seasonal phenomena like seaweed and other factors, will every so often have an impact on consumer perceptions for any given markets. News and Social media make these challenges known to the world very rapidly. Having a cohesive message, outlining the facts and showcasing that, despite these phenomena, our destinations are open for business and offer a wide array of options for travelers, can help us minimize the consequences of bad publicity.

Q: Which IHG brands are favored by Mexican consumers and how do you plan to strengthen this preference?

A: Our Holiday Inn brand family which includes Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express and Holiday Inn Resorts, has been recognized as the most trusted hotel brand in the country year after year. We continue to open new Holiday Inn hotels not only in Mexico but also across Latin America. This past year only, we opened Holiday Inn Express properties in Merida, Ensenada, Monterrey, Mexico City, Asuncion, Paraguay, and also Lima and Piura in Peru. We also opened a Holiday Inn Hotel and Suites in Merida and a beautiful Holiday Inn in Lima.

Besides openings, in 2019 we signed many new license agreements in Mexico, for multiple brands including Holiday Inn, two Holiday Inn Express, Hotel Indigo, Staybridge Suites, Crowne Plaza, avid™ hotels and Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants. 

Around the world, travelers are seeking for deluxe accommodations and experiences at the highest level. To attract those travelers, IHG acquired two of the most recognized brands in that segment: Regent Hotels and Six Senses Resorts and SPA’s. We anticipate bringing those two spectacular brands to Mexico soon.

Q: What elements does a tourism public policy need to be socially inclusive, as President López Obrador wants?

A: Let’s first not forget that tourism is an important driver of economic growth. It has a very positive impact in the community, bringing jobs and creating demand for many complementary industries. Let’s also recognize that domestic travelers are a key component of demand. Our industry already provides experiences that are accessible to many sectors of our population. The “Viajemos Todos por México” (Let’s all travel across Mexico) campaign is a great example of how to drive awareness and demand from an even larger sector.

 

IHG franchises, leases, manages or owns nearly 5,800 hotels and approximately 865,000 guest rooms in more than 100 countries, with over 1,900 hotels in its development pipeline. IHG has been in Mexico for nearly 50 years and has 150 open hotels in the market and a pipeline of more than 40 hotels

Photo by:   IHG
Gabriela Mastache Gabriela Mastache Senior Journalist and Industry Analyst