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  • Ryan Haynes

Spanish hotel & travel tech market with the Smart Travel News Editor

Exploring trends in the Spanish travel and hospitality market with Editor & Founder SmartTravel News. Juanda Núñez gives insights to the developments of technology and digitalisation and the initiatives businesses are investing in.



Through the eyes of a Spanish trade media editor he shares what he has learnt are the

key challenges for hoteliers and wider travel industry, how media and industry engagement is changing - and why is more important than ever to think about the reader.


Discover more at https://www.smarttravel.news/


Programme Notes


Ryan Haynes:

Welcome to Travel Market Life. In this episode, we are going to be looking at the Spanish market and delving into the media with the help of the Editor and Founder of Smart Travel News. Juanda Núñez. He'll be explaining some of the key trends we're seeing in Spain and the travel market, the challenges that hotels and the wider industry are facing, and some of the Digitalisation agenda in the country. So, let's dive in and find out a bit more about the Spanish media marketplace.


Ryan Haynes:

Hola Juanda! How are you doing? Thank you very much for joining us today.


Juanda Núñez:

Hola Ryan, thank you for having me. I'm doing great. Thank you.


Ryan Haynes:

It'd be great to hear from you about some of the trends that you're seeing there in Spain and some of the specific market challenges and, and, and changes that are prominent.


Juanda Núñez:

Yeah. Okay. Well, as you can imagine, of course, the pandemic has been very hard for every country. But especially for us when regarding travel, because it's our main industry as you know, so, so, and it affects lots of other industries that are involved with, with tourism, not just travel itself. So, if you speak to any hotelier in, in, in Spain at the moment, they're very happy with, with the year they've had and the summer they've had. All results are above any expectations. We have recovered nine of every 10 international travellers. We just had today new data from occupancy, which is 40% up compared to 2021.


Juanda Núñez:

So, they're very happy. And, and you, I can tell you that they're, they're very cautious all the time, you know, hotels in Spain, they want to be too happy about anything, but they're happy now. So of course, we have challenges as everyone does regarding costs. And they will say that it's hard to make a profit with these prices and with inflation. And this, of course, is a global thing, not just for travel or for Spain but they would say that's their main challenge now. I mean, the data is very good. And even if we thought that, you know the summer hangover was going to be difficult for us, actually, it's not going that bad and you can tell the data is still booking are still up, and we are very cautious about what's going to happen in this autumn. But data is still very good. We are having our high season now on Canary Islands, for example, so we are going to have to wait and see what happens there. But, regarding data, everything looks fantastic at the moment.


Ryan Haynes:

I mean, it's very interesting to see how well the travel industry has bounced back and how Spain has been able to figure out its new place at the moment and, and respond to those emerging needs. But as you say, there's a big impact of this inflation and the costs and also around staffing, because it's not just been an issue to be experienced in the UK or as we've seen in Germany, but it's a, it's a worldwide issue. And I guess in, in Spain in particular, what are some of the Spanish tourism and hotel companies doing to really try to attract people back to the industry?


Juanda Núñez:

I mean, that's hard because even at the beginning of the pandemic, I would speak to hotels, I would say we are having a talent leak and people are moving from travel to other industries and it's going to get really hard to, to get them back. So, and you know, also it's a very seasonable job in some, some segments of travel So it's very hard to capture that talent and keep it with us. And we are going to have to try very hard to do that. And also there, there is a generational thing going on because I've been talking to some hotels and they would say that working with the younger generation is not that easy because they don't have that kind of attention.


Juanda Núñez:

And, maybe it's a different generation. So, it's not that easy they would accept except for very long hours at the beginning of their careers. And in this industry, that's the common thing when you start. So, I don't know the solution to this. I'm so sorry. I wish I had that solution, but you can tell that we really had a talent big with the pandemic. And it's going to take a while to get people back.


Ryan Haynes:

I mean, we've all had a look at the way that the source markets have changed massively over the last couple of years, really adapting to regional travellers to then looking at how you could get the Europeans back and then the North Americans and, and wider international travellers. And I guess this is really something that the industry as a whole has had to address, not just the total as itself. What are some of the key challenges you are seeing across the wider travel industry as you're speaking to some of the other sectors within travel?


Juanda Núñez:

Oh, well, first thing is that when the pandemic happened and we could travel again, the regional traveller, the Spanish traveller has been very important for us. And I have to say that international traveller was really appreciated. It is always really appreciated by the industry because they also they tend to expend spend more than the national ones. But this year, particularly this year, Spanish travellers have spent as much as people from the UK or Germany or even from the United States. So, you know, people even in the hardest situations, don't want to stop travelling.


Juanda Núñez:

It's like they deserve their holidays and their vacation. And then we'll figure out what happens next, which is not always the smartest solution, but regarding our industry, it's a nice thing that people will, will put their travel and their holidays on a top priority, right? But still, we have of course challenges and I would say hotels always try to struggle with distribution and try to get some of their direct sales back. you know, especially in the islands, we have a very dependency on two operators and OTAs of course. So, hotels always have this kind of struggle. And being from the media, I can tell you that this is the kind of subject that attracts them the most when you have an article regarding how can you get some of that distribution back or how can you push direct sales, of course, that's a kind of content that they will appreciate.


Juanda Núñez:

And as an industry, I think that of course, we have to deal with digitalisation, that's a big thing. And in Spain, you know, we have very key destinations, and before the pandemic, tourism was a thing that we were already talking about. And that's something that we're going to have to deal with back in the near future because sustainability has always been a key issue in the last few months. and we have to figure out that balance between, you know, bringing all the international travel back and keeping destinations sustainable or maybe promoting some of those destinations in Spain that maybe don't have that international focus, if you will.


Ryan Haynes:

Yeah, no, absolutely. I mean, I've seen some of the DMO campaigns recently where they've not just been focusing on the core cities that are most popular and recognized by international and European tourists, but also trying to get them out to some of the other villages and towns and, and look at sort of some of the hats of the more road trippy kind of approach to, to travel because you have such phenomenal different destinations and experiences that can be experienced within Spain. So, there's so much more than the typical destinations than the holiday resorts that, particularly the Brits are renowned visit visiting. But I've also seen, there have been quite a few other changes really around sort of how Spain and, and some of the other regions are sort of handling tourists, bringing in certain restrictions to address, address some of this sustainability.


Ryan Haynes:

One of the key things you mentioned there was around Digitalisation the use of technology, and particularly there's always that question of technology and hospitality, but you're taking away the art of hospitality. How are you starting to see that take shape now in Spain? How much of it is a priority for the businesses themselves? Because I'm aware that there are quite a few government initiatives around supporting the evolution of digitalisation in the sector.


Juanda Núñez:

Yes, so the first thing would be that I, I think we were a bit far from technology taking off the human part on the guest experience side. And I think that maybe you know, the Spanish and the Latin character has something to do with it. We expect really to have that conversation with the person when we arrive at the hotel. And I would say that hotels and travel industry look more to the back office part of technology. And of course, I think most hotels are looking to bring in revenue management systems. Of course, PMS is a basic thing to have CRM software, of course, a big presence on social media.


Juanda Núñez:

And I think that's the kind of things that they're trying to, to, to improve with the help of course of, you know, the European help that we are having now with the next generation money. And, and so, and from the government, I would argue that most materials will at the moment feel like we are not getting, or they're not getting the right support. We just have the new proposal for the budget for next year. And it's cut like, like the third part of the, of the part used to have for, for tourism has been cut. So, I don't think they feel that appreciation from the government that much. And also for example, just for example, we don't have such a big industry in Spain, we have a specific ministry for that. And it depends on whom you ask. They will say, oh, that's okay, because we don't want them too much involved So it's okay, we don't have a ministry of our own, but we are together with commerce and industry, commerce industry and tourism so it’s in that package. And, you know, I would say that politicians support tourism of course, but I think that the industry doesn't feel that support that much when you look at the budget and, and they kind of feel like we've, we've gone out of this whole mess, covid mess on our own and we can deal with anything and we don't.


Juanda Núñez:

And it's okay. So, this is a personal opinion of course, but it's okay that we don't depend that much on the government’s help. And I think we are a big industry and strong industry. So maybe we can, if there's any help, then welcome, but I think this is a strong industry on it.


Ryan Haynes:

I mean, you know, you are part of that international community naturally because it is about tourism and people moving around between different locations and geographically internationally as well. So, I guess there's, there's also the benefit that there are quite a few hotel chains and international businesses that are based and from Spain that are working and operating across different locations. So, there are a lot of learnings that come from different places. And, and we also see that there's a lot of, of the Spanish brands are really taking a lot of innovation initiatives to, and there's a lot of new technologies that are really coming out and being utilized by the the Spanish enterprises.


Ryan Haynes:

Are there any particular sorts of technologies within travel and hospitality that are particularly taking your interest? And you are starting, you're, you are seeing those success stories from hotels around these technologies?


Juanda Núñez:

Well, you just mentioned the importance of Spanish companies like Amadeus, a Spanish company after all. And we have lots of maybe there were startups five, six years ago and from top of my head, like Beonprice. Now they're global and they have a revenue management system that it's global. I just read an interview yesterday, with the CEO of Cabify and they were saying that outside of Spain we have, people tend to see us as we have strong startups and companies. It's hard for us to believe but we have to really believe in ourselves. And I think we are better than we think sometimes. This is also Spanish culture thing that we are, we tend to think that the thing from the abroad is always better than ours. But I think we have strong technologies and I would say that especially we are very strong on revenue management and we have booking engines and, and I think that we have some of the strongest direct channel consistency companies. I think we have strong leaders there and that they are like slowly moving away from Spain. Of course, they're going first to the Latin American market, of course, you know, the language of course makes it easier.


Juanda Núñez:

But when I go abroad, I don't think they have a stronger spokesperson than we do in some companies. So, I think we have a lot of knowledge there that we can bring not just to Spanish companies, but also to some European countries. I mean, that's true to dairy or, but you know, I really think we have strong leaders there. Yeah,


Ryan Haynes:

I mean I think you can certainly tell by the fact that, you know, you've got a couple of really big cities that are, you know, recognized on an international playing field. You've also got a lot of them, you know the beach resorts as well as a sort of independently run businesses at the same time. So, there's a great mix of different types of business there that allows you to really adopt different strategic approaches to either Pricing or distribution. And that certainly helps, you know, I guess the wider European economy really understand some of those behaviours of people who are travelling to and from and within Europe, because Spain is just one of those destinations and obviously one of the key travel destinations.


Ryan Haynes:

Now, tell us about Smart Travel News. Tell us about the sort of editorial that's focused on what you are taking and how you help your readers really understand what's happening in the market.


Juanda Núñez:

Well, thank you for the opportunity. Actually, it started six years ago and I started this project because I wanted to do something that was fully online and fully focused on travel technology because we had that, this references from like Phocuswire, T News, and Skift. So that sort of media that I was looking at and researching most, most days. So, so I felt that, that we needed something like that for, for this panel hotels, not just hoteliers, but also travel agencies and DMOs. So that was my intention at the beginning.


Juanda Núñez:

Hopefully, I still keep that travel tech focus and I think people go to Smart Travel News looking for, especially that, but also with time. I think that we need to have, this purpose of making things easier for real, for readers, not readers or followers or listeners, whatever it is. Because we are exposed to so many messages every day, not just from newsletters, email, WhatsApp, and social media. So, expecting that, that the audience would, would take 10, 20 minutes of their day to look at what you are trying to, to, to get there.


Juanda Núñez:

I don't know, it's not going to happen. So, now I have a new goal, which is I want to inform about travel tech, but I want to do it with the more value that I can in less time possible. And that's a new factor to take into account. So, for example, we have a daily podcast, which is like, like six, seven minutes with a daily brief. Because of that, I think that's a very useful thing. You can listen to it while you're driving, while you are going the subway, whatever, and you get to your office or to your hotel and you already know the big news.


Juanda Núñez:

We have a WhatsApp newsletter. I don't know, I'm, I'm trying always to, to look for things that make it easier for people to, to get their news and, and as fast as possible, which is a little bit of a contradiction because I like to write and that's the reason, I became a journalist in the first place. But I have to understand that people don't read the same way when they read online. And, we are again exposed to so many messages all day every day that we, we really need to give them the best information and the most that we can in sometimes in a few seconds. So that's one of my goals now.


Ryan Haynes:

I'll tell you what, it's lovely to hear that the challenges that marketers face are the same challenges that the editors of publications are facing today. Because as you say it's maintaining their interest from that audience and providing them with the information that is of most use to them when they need it. As you said, you've diversified massively from printed text to a wider range of different ways, including podcasts for engaging with your audience. So, I guess there's a, a lot more on the horizon as you move forward into next year.


Juanda Núñez:

Yes, at the moment, I don't think you can get too attached to any specific format because we don't know what's going to happen in the future. So, if you are very good at, I don't know, LinkedIn or Facebook or podcast or video, that, that's, that's great. But, maybe in 10 years time, we don't know what's going to be there. We know we're going, but there's still going to be a need for someone in the middle to gather the big news and bring them in the easiest way for people. So, what's going to be the format? I don't really know and I don't dare to say what's going to be but I'm sure that we are going to have to adapt and that our media and every media is going to look very different in, I don't know, five years, 10 years.


Juanda Núñez:

I don't know what it's going to look like, I don't know if we're going to be in the metaverse or something like that. I don't really know. But I know that I'm going to have to adapt to that and that's okay.


Ryan Haynes:

I was going to say, yeah, I mean you could be appearing as a hologram in someone's office before too long reading them the news, right?


Juanda Núñez:

Yeah. Who knows? That's going to be a bit scarier the first, first time, but, but yeah, I don't know what's, what's going to look like. So, I was going to say that even of course we're trying to get attention longer from people, but also, I think we have to take the most of what they give us. If it's five minutes, we have to get the most of it. If it's 30 seconds and it's a bit of a little drama for us. And as I mentioned before, especially for us, we like to read, to write and read and long articles, well maybe that doesn't work anymore. So, we have or we have to right fund the right spot and the right time for those kinds of long articles and long content.


Juanda Núñez:

But on the daily basis, we have to look forward to being more useful and more valuable in the last time possible, I think.


Ryan Haynes:

Wonderful. Juan, thank you very much for those wonderful insights, not just into the Spanish market and tourism economy, but also into how to really address and engage with your region as an audience. I think that's incredibly valuable. So, thank you very much for joining me today.


Juanda Núñez:

Thank you for your time. Thank you for having me.


Ryan Haynes:

So that was Juanda Nuez, the Editor and Founder of Smart Travel News. Check out our upcoming episodes so you can see them all on www.travelmarket.life. I'm your host, Ryan Haynes. Thanks listening. And ciao for now.

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