Meliá Hotels International has been named as the ‘Leading Company in Sustainability, Spain’ at The European’s Global ESG Leaders Awards 2017. As the company’s Executive Vice President and CEO, I also had the honour of being named ‘ESG Leader of the Year’.
For a company, such as Meliá Hotels International, that is considered as one of the top 20 hotel groups in the world with more than 60 years of experience in opening up new travel destinations, these awards are both an honour and a stimulus for us to continue focussing on creating value to be shared with all of the communities in which we operate.
Meliá Hotels International aims to be recognised as an international benchmark for excellence, responsibility and sustainability. It is why Meliá is very grateful for these awards which are held in high esteem by ourselves. They come at a very special time for the company as we aim to further our strategic commitment to consolidate a business model based on ethics and compliance. This allows the culture and values of a family business to harmoniously intertwine with the transparency and governance standards required of a publically trading and responsible company, whilst also enhancing our relationships and dialogue with our stakeholders.
Following the important progress made in the process of generational change at the head of our company, it is also time for when major cultural transformations can respond to important challenges: our significant international expansion, the new digital business environment and the increasing social, environmental and financial demands faced by companies, all while maintaining the essence of a Mediterranean family business, our values and our ethical and responsible standards.
As reflected in our Annual Report, prepared in line with Integrated Reporting principles, since 2008 Meliá has been applying the guiding principles of the Global Compact, aligned with the United Nations-led Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), to create a responsible hotel business model. The company has defined three major global priorities aligned with the SDG: human rights and childhood, employability and climate change and local development.
These principles and priorities are behind both our strategy and our actions, and among other achievements, have earned us important awards. The Worldwide Hospitality Awards have recently presented us with the ‘Worldwide Hospitality Award for Corporate Social Responsibility’ for the local development project named ‘Melia Zanzibar: A better world for Kairo Village’. For our renovation project in Magaluf led by Meliá Hotels International concerning the restoration of mature tourist destinations through conversion and repositioning, we received the ‘Tourism Merit Award for Public/private Collaboration in the Modernisation of Mature Destinations’, given by the Government of Spain.
As a leading company in the industry, we are deeply committed to sharing our experience in these areas. We have therefore joined the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Corporate Responsibility Working Group with the aim of contributing to the responsible transformation of the institutions of which we form a part of.
Regarding progress in environmental issues, Meliá Hotels International’s environmental policy aims to reduce the environmental impact of our business activity through a comprehensive plan for continuous improvement in resource use, building efficiency and waste management. As a result of this commitment, in 2017 the company will complete the certification of its energy management system under ISO 50.001 criteria, an international benchmark for efficient energy management.
The achievement of energy and water use objectives (11.6% less CO2 emissions per stay between 2012 and 2016 and 8% less water consumption) is the result of the ‘SAVE’ energy savings program implemented 10 years ago in more than 200 hotels, confirming the company’s commitment to corporate responsibility and sustainability, and also showing the profitability of efficient management.
Since 2016, this policy became even more prominent as the company prioritised investments in energy saving and efficiency and added a sustainability criteria to all of the renovations and new hotel projects it carries out every year. For new hotels, this process begins in the negotiations with hotel owners and ends with the implementation of more efficient facilities and new technologies. Other measures include hotel energy audits, the standardisation of energy efficient systems and project management under the ESCO model, based on promoting external investment in energy efficiency in collaboration with specialist companies (ESCO).
Meliá Hotels International started out on the island of Mallorca and has recently begun to compensate its emissions through a reforestation project on the island in an area of immense natural beauty which has previously been heavily affected by forest fires.
Among the awards received for sustainability in 2016 are the ‘A’- rating in the Carbon Disclosure Project, making us one of the leading companies in the fight against climate change and the Re-think Hotel Award for the ‘Best Sustainable Renovation’ at the Gran Meliá Palacio de los Duques Hotel.
Regarding our progress in social issues, as a global company with more than 44,000 employees, Meliá Hotels International is in an important stage of growth which revolves around its team, the main driver of the future of the company and an essential factor in enhancing agile, efficient and productive management. Responsible management of people and their development, with a special focus on diversity (43% of the team are women and employees come from 140 different countries), have become key factors for our growth and cultural transformation.
Finally, I would like to highlight our most important advances in financial issues, transparency and corporate governance. From the financial management perspective, Meliá Hotels International has a dual responsibility given its nature as a family-run business which is also a publically traded company. This requires the company to maintain the highest levels of financial rigour and transparency while also remaining loyal to its family values and principles. As a multinational company with hundreds of different stakeholders, transparency, risk management and corporate governance and compliance in line with the best market practices are also essential to ensure the sustainability of the business, the fulfilment of our stakeholders’ expectations and the creation of long-term social and economic value.
That is one of the reasons why five of the 11 members of the Board of Directors are independent directors, and also the reason behind the recent creation of the position of Compliance Officer, reinforcing policies on the Prevention and Detection of Criminal Offenses. We are also renewing the company’s corporate policies and have joined the cluster for transparency, good governance and integrity coordinated by Forética in Spain.
At Meliá, we understand that travel is an industry with a huge capacity to enhance the social and economic development of communities. As a family-run company, we have always been aware that our legacy would be to “build a profitable and sustainable company, not only for our employees and shareholders, but also for society as a whole and for future generations.”
This is a corporate statement of intent that today, as a representative of the second generation of the family, I entirely assume and commit myself to continue to promote, within an increasingly complex environment with great opportunities, and also major challenges for our industry.