Spain’s Sol Meliá in cross-cultural alliance with China’s Jin Jiang

PALMA DE MALLORCA, SPAIN Sol Meliá SA and Jin Jiang International Hotel Co. have formed an alliance to cooperate in marketing, sales, operations and development, meant to gain market share of the exponentially growing numbers of Chinese tourists to Europe and vice versa.

The alliance is viewed as a partnership amongst equals, given that both companies are leaders in their respective markets and are of similar size with portfolios of comparable quality. Last year, Sol Meliá opened Hotel Gran Meliá Shanghai and has since been working on a plan to generate greater growth in China and to stimulate the Chinese tourism feeder market towards its properties in Europe.

The alliance lays the foundations for a long-term partnership encompassing hotel development, marketing and sales, reservation systems and loyalty programs. The agreement is largely based on reciprocal cultural exchanges including language, management processes, gastronomy and human resources training and development.

“The new alliance will help extend our knowledge about new markets and help export our hotel and management culture to leading European cities, in line with the growing importance of China as a feeder market for European destinations,” says Jin Jiang CEO Yang Wei Min.

The partnership will initially focus on six hotels managed by Jin Jiang in major China cities and six hotels managed by Sol Meliá in major Europe capitals.

The selected hotels in China are Jin Jiang Tower and Marvel hotel in Shanghai, Xinai Jin Jiang hotel in Beijing, Jin Jiang Sanya Royal Garden Resort in Sanya, Wuhan Jin Jiang International Hotel in Wuhan and West Capital International Hotel in Xian. In Europe, the agreement will apply to Meliá Barcelona, and Meliá Madrid, Meliá White House in London, Meliá Berlin, and Meliá Royal Alma and Tryp François in Paris.

Sol Meliá and Jin Jiang will create “mixed teams” in the 12 hotels to ensure the cultural adaptation of the reception areas, guestrooms and food and beverage services to European and Chinese preferences. The adaptation of hotel services to the needs of Chinese and European guests is one of the major challenges for both companies that, in the words of Sol Melia CEO Gabriel Escarrer, “aims to do away with the idea that European and Chinese business cultures are separated by immovable barriers such as mistrust.

“The most satisfactory thing about this project has been this cultural proximity in facing a shared challenge: preparing our companies for a near future in which the number of Chinese travelling to Europe will extraordinarily grow,” Escarrer says.

Both companies will together explore opportunities for growth in China and Europe. The agreement also includes training programs in Mandarin Chinese and Spanish, in Oriental and European culture, and joint trainee and work experience programs.