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The BIG Interview: Federico González Tejera, CEO, NH Hotel Group

Jerome Smail 9 January 2015
The BIG Interview: Federico González Tejera, CEO, NH Hotel Group

Federico González Tejera, CEO of NH Hotel Group, discusses his company’s goals for the future and why there’s no place to hide in the modern hotel industry

Can you tell us about your background and how you came to your current role?
After studying economics and international trade and finances, I developed my career in various multinational companies operating in the sectors of large consumer goods, leisure and tourism, with leading responsibilities in marketing, sales and general management. Before joining NH Hotel Group in 2012, I worked in global companies such as Procter & Gamble and Disney, where I served as deputy general manager of Disneyland Paris, among others. Eighteen years of my career have been spent in different countries such as Belgium, Portugal, Sweden and France. Joining NH was an easy decision for me because I saw an immense number of opportunities and potential to make the group grow.

What do you find most challenging about your job?
The biggest challenges are prioritising and articulating all the opportunities on a comprehensive five-year plan supported by the organisation, investors and shareholders.

What is the best part of your job?
The people. This is a service business and we need the people to deliver an amazing experience to the consumers. They are the key to make this happen.

What do you see as the most important elements in developing NH Hotel Group further?
We are deploying a strategic five-year plan through the implementation of several initiatives that impact four value-drivers key to the company’s future. The plan focuses on: reorganising our brands through a clear segmentation of our hotels; delivering a new customer value proposition, both from a product and experience point of view; boosting our communication and commercial efforts; and finally, improving our organisation and management capabilities. All of this is aligned to make the company grow once the new customer experience we are implementing is fully in place.

Have you noticed any hospitality trends emerging over the last 12 months?
It is not a new trend but one that keeps growing: consumers worldwide have access to all the information shared by the community about the rooms, the services and any other detail of the hotel, before, during and after their trip. So you cannot hide any longer. More than ever, transparency for the consumer plays a decisive role in the hospitality industry.

In general, how do you think the hotel industry is performing at the moment?
This industry is cyclical, largely dependent on the economic situation of each country, city or destination. Nonetheless, even if there are improving trends within the industry, the important thing for us is how our company is performing within those trends.

What are your main goals for the next year with NH Hotel Group?
As part of our five-year plan, our main objective during 2015 is to add value to the customer experience. In this sense we have invested in what we call Brilliant Basics – 14,500 new high-tech LED televisions, 17,400 new mattresses with the maximum comfort designed exclusively for NH Hotel Group, 19,000 new maximum quality showers, 16,500 new professional hairdryers and a new amenities line.

Additionally, we are investing more than 200 million euros in an asset-repositioning plan, which allows us to strongly improve our product. Several hotels have been fully refurbished this year and we plan to do the same in 100 more over the next few years. New brand architecture, a new customer experience based on a solid operational promise for each hotel category, a new loyalty programme and the deployment of a new commercial website are just some of the initiatives we are carrying out to add value to the group. Our current and future priority is to ensure that the consumer knows the transformation we are carrying out and ensure that they choose us on their next trip.

What are NH Hotel Group’s plans for the future?
We need to provide an experience that is unique, different and that surpasses consumers’ expectations. Our vision is that whenever anyone contemplates a trip to a city for an overnight stay or meeting, for business or pleasure, they will always ask themselves: “Is there an NH Hotel at my destination?” This means we have to be the first in the client’s mind when thinking about a hotel. It sounds simplistic, but it gives everyone in the company an idea of what we have to deliver. Our current plans are focused on achieving this goal.