Need to raise prices more, says top hotelier

Antonio Catalan is one of the leading hoteliers in Spain. His name is less familiar in Majorca than the names of those who run the island’s “big four” of Barceló, Iberostar, Meliá and Riu, as he is not Majorcan and his hotel interests on the island are not weren’t great by comparison. However, the hotel chains he founded – NH Hoteles and more recently AC Hotels-AC by Marriott – are big business, while his understanding of the Mallorca market includes having owned a house on the island in over the past fifteen years.

On Friday, he presented the redesign Hacienda Son Antem in Llucmajor, a five-star luxury hotel complex in which eleven million euros have been invested, which has 151 rooms and will operate all year round. It will be marketed under the Marriott’s Autograph Collection Hotels brand.

During the presentation, he was asked his opinion on the tourist season in Mallorca and the Balearics. “With a record number of tourists, there is a distorted economy due to global billing at average prices. The customer profile needs to be changed. Mallorca has a lot of customers and needs to raise prices further. All this must be complemented by an investment strategy to improve the accommodation offer and be even more competitive.”

It is time, he said, “to take a qualitative leap and be brave”. “I believe as a businessman that if customers can’t pay the price I set for a product, they shouldn’t come. We need to take another turn in terms of tourism evolution and in the case of the Balearic Islands, you have to know how to value what you have and be much more selective. At the same time, if there are businessmen who cannot even pay minimum wage, then they must stop being businessmen. Everything is relative, up and down.

“The Balearic Islands have all the conditions in their favor to add value to the tourism industry of the islands. You have to be more selective. I will give an example. Four years ago, because of Brexit, British tourists saw the pound devalue by 20%. But despite everything, they came to Spain paying 22% more for their holidays. It’s a matter of pressure (referring to tourist affluence) and to act according to professional and commercial criteria. It is possible because in the case of Mallorca we have everything in our favor to be able to improve everything related to marketing and price increases.

“Low prices mean having low cost tourists. It’s so simple. It is time to face the future with a courageous commercial vision, because the European markets will react, despite the uncertainty which prevails at the moment.”

As for the 2023 season, Sr. Catalán observed that “it is too early to be able to make predictions”. “It is the geopolitical and economic situations that take precedence. It is true that there are countries which will enter into recession, like Germany, but European tourists will continue to come because they are ready to pay everything go on vacation. The Balearics have to play with the correlation between occupancy and average price. Occupancy and average price per room should be based on fewer guests, which improves profitability levels.”

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