Posadas, a 50-year-old Mexican-owned and -operated company, has risen to become the largest hotel operator in the country. Currently, the brand has 180 properties under seven brands in its portfolio, with many more to come in the next few years.
SkiftX spoke to Javier Barrera, Posadas’ vice president of Posadas Franchise Unit, about the variety of brands under the Posadas name, its growing portfolio, innovations taking place at Posadas properties, its U.S. marketing campaign, and the challenges and opportunities that currently exist within Mexico’s tourism economy.
SkiftX: Posadas has a number of brand properties under its umbrella. Can you give us a brief rundown of each of them?
Javier Barrera: Yes, we have seven hotel brands under Posadas, each with their own brand identity. Live Aqua is our exclusive luxury lifestyle hotel brand, focusing on sensory details; Grand Fiesta Americana offers high-end services and cuisine through highlighting the grandeur of Mexican hospitality; Fiesta Americana is a five-star hotel chain that emphasizes the qualities of Mexico’s warm and friendly hospitality and its unique architecture; The Explorean is our five-star accommodation discovery resort, located in the natural surroundings of the Mayan jungle, where guests are able to disconnect from their daily routine to enjoy direct contact with the culture and the flora and fauna of the region; Fiesta Inn is our business class hotel chain, where guests can stay connected at all times while still being able to find relax on the road; Gamma is a collection of independent hotels backed that operate as franchises, catering to travelers seeking a local experience; and one is our economy hotel brand that offers guests a convenient, functional, friendly and safe property at a fair price.
SkiftX: Can you talk about the brand’s expansion beyond Mexico?
Barrera: Our expansion program is currently focused on the non-Mexican Caribbean. In 2017, we started to work on our expansion plans specifically in Cuba and the Dominican Republic. In Cuba, we operate two hotels — Fiesta Americana Punta Varadero and Fiesta Americana Holguín Costa Verde — and have signed contracts for four additional hotels.
In the Dominican Republic, we’ve started work on the Grand Fiesta Americana Punta Cana Los Corales, an all-inclusive hotel with 558 rooms scheduled to open its doors within the next two years. We also plan to open other properties in Punta Cana, Cap Cana, and Santo Domingo — three leading tourist destinations in the Caribbean. We have also signed a contract for an additional hotel with our Live Aqua brand.
SkiftX: How else do you expect the portfolio to grow over the next few years?
Barrera: While our main focus remains on Mexico, our goal is to have 300 hotels in operation or signed by 2020. We currently have 180 hotels and more than 27,500 rooms in over 60 destinations in Mexico and the non-Mexican Caribbean, as well as 53 hotels under development, all of which will be up and running within the next four years.
Part of the Posadas DNA is to continue growing — thus, over the last five years, we have maintained a constant and accelerated growth plan. We opened a total of 16 hotels in 2018 alone and plan to open 23 more properties in 2019.
SkiftX: Can you tell us about “La Colección,” the brand recently launched in the U.S. market? What does it entail, and what was the approach behind it?
Barrera: “La Colección” is an umbrella brand that encompasses our resort properties located in Mexico’s most desired destinations. It consists of 12 beach resorts as well as the recently opened Live Aqua Urban Resort in San Miguel de Allende. “La Colección” is the brand that epitomizes the authentic holiday experience that celebrates the very best of Mexico, and therefore we decided to launch a campaign aimed at U.S. audiences with this collection of properties specifically to share and strengthen information about our resorts in Mexico. The campaign invites North American audiences to visit Mexico and discover the unique travel experiences our country offers.
SkiftX: The Tourism Business Council of Mexico was recently dissolved by the country’s government, which is likely to bring challenges when it comes to attracting new visitors to Mexico. Do you expect this to affect your business?
Barrera: This is the first time the Tourism Business Council of Mexico has ever stopped its operations, and we are only now starting to see the consequences of this situation. Even though we haven’t seen a drop in reservations, there has definitely been a slowdown. At the same time, destinations such as the Dominican Republic and Jamaica have grown. This may be due to the fact that tourists who are not traveling to Mexico are visiting those destinations, though it is worth mentioning that both countries are doing a great job in terms of promotion and positioning.
SkiftX: Is Posadas doing anything to face these challenges?
Barrera: In the past, the money invested in tourism campaigns was directly reflected in the country’s economy as revenue derived from tourist activities. We know that tourism promotion is paramount. Fortunately, we have been in close contact with the different ministries involved in tourism activities nationwide, stressing the enormous benefit that tourism represents for Mexico’s economy, especially in terms of generating local and regional jobs.
We remain optimistic. We have seen a positive reaction among various political actors regarding the virtuous cycle that can be sparked by promoting tourism. It has been a very good experience in terms of openness and understanding and there has been a lot of interest from the government to continue to support us and work together.
SkiftX: It’s often said that today’s travelers are looking for “authentic, local experiences.” As a brand that offers large hotel and resort stays, how do you factor this into your offerings?
Barrera: Tourism is changing. Today, travelers are looking for far more than just sunbathing at the beach. There are travelers who seek gastronomic or cultural tourism, for example, which are not necessarily found at beach destinations. That’s why we strive to balance our current offering of city and beach hotels throughout Mexico, delivering strategic and privileged locations close to local hotspots, as well as an extensive catalog of brands that meet the needs of all types of travelers.
For example, our one hotel brand, which is focused on self-service and practicality, is perfect for guests who want to explore everything a destination has to offer and are only looking for a place to rest and move on.
SkiftX: What else we can we expect from Posadas over the next few years?
Barrera: We are developing four new brands: two brands focused on resort hotels, a Love Celebration hotel, and a city brand. We will share more details about these new brands in the near future.
SkiftX: Is there anything else that you would like to address?
Barrera: I’d like to extend an invitation to travel enthusiasts to visit the beautiful destinations that Mexico has to offer and come see its natural wonders, experience its vast culture, and live its rich heritage. We promise a unique travel experience surrounded by amenities that meet every traveler’s needs.