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Executive Meeting with Santiago García-Nieto Conde

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"From the hotel sector, we already glimpse the light at the end of the tunnel", declares García-Nieto Conde

Santiago García-Nieto Conde es el segundo invitado de los Encuentros Directivos de OBS Business School


  • "Catalonia receives 26% of national tourism," according to CaixaBank Research data from 2019, affirms our guest.
  • "For 2 years, there have been more cancellations than bookings," Santiago García-Nieto Conde communicates, referring to the pandemic.
  • According to the aforementioned study, 64% of tourism is classified as "Sun and Beach Tourism."

Today, we delve into the subject with this second interview in the 2022 edition of the Executive Meetings at OBS Business School. Dr. Casilda Güell, the Dean of the school, has interviewed Santiago García-Nieto Conde, President of the Business Confederation of Hospitality and Restaurants in Catalonia (CONFECAT), and CEO of the Bon Dia Hotels chain.

During the conversation, they addressed the impact of Covid-19 on the tourism sector, one of the most significant sectors in Spain. According to Garcia-Nieto, "the sector has gone from 10 to 0" - not only due to the lack of guests because of the pandemic but also because of increasing losses caused by minimal infrastructure, taxes, and personnel costs, with no income during this period.

One of the strengths of the sector in Spain is that 96% of hotels are small and medium-sized enterprises, i.e., family-owned companies. In Catalonia, this percentage is 99%. However, nationally, this has been reduced due to the pandemic and the significant losses suffered by entrepreneurs, who have been forced to sell their businesses.

"Fortunately, I dare say we see the light at the end of the tunnel," declares Santiago Garcia-Nieto Conde, who mentions that in the last ten days, bookings have multiplied across Spain. "We come from two years where there were more cancellations than bookings, two years of many losses." Garcia-Nieto sees an optimistic future in the tourism sector, especially in domestic tourism, which he considers potent: "Spain has done very well."

"Most countries want to copy and paste our model because this has been and continues to be a successful sector. Our brand is very powerful"

During the interview, our guest explained the evolution that the tourist profile has undergone in recent years: "The customer has changed radically. It started about 8 years ago, but with the pandemic, it has accelerated," the entrepreneur confirms. "We find ourselves in a context where, thanks to different platforms and low-cost flights, tourists prefer to travel for fewer days but more times a year and to different destinations, doing so without relying on travel agencies".

"In the past, hotels didn't have a sales department; we didn't sell. The rooms were directly purchased from us by agencies. However, with various platforms emerging, hoteliers have realized that we must update ourselves, incorporate commercial departments and innovate with new technologies."

"We must offer something else; we must sell experiences, not just rooms. That's what's changing day by day, and innovation can give this to us"

Technology applied to innovation allows for a deeper understanding of customers, an essential aspect for García-Nieto, who believes that handing the room key to the guest is no longer enough.

To conclude this second interview, Santiago García-Nieto Conde wanted to convey a message of optimism to all those entrepreneurs in the sector. The President of the Business Confederation of Hospitality and Restaurants in Catalonia sees success in the national future:

"If we continue to do it just as well, I see a future of success in the hotel sector."

Discover more about the hotel sector with the videopodcast of the second interview from the Executive Meetings with Santiago García-Nieto Conde here: