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Antonio Mediavilla: “Los Reyes have been the most important clients I’ve had”

Antonio Mediavilla: "Los Reyes have been the most important clients I've had"

Antonio Mediavilla has worked in companies such as Viajes El Corte Inglés, the Hotel de la Reconquista in Oviedo, in chains such as Hotusa and Oca Hotels, but he is currently the president of the Spanish Association of Hotel Managers in Asturias. In addition, he is one of the architects of the Iberik Hoteles project.

Antonio Mediavilla highlights sustainability, training and technology as the great pillars of change in the hotel sector.

– How did you become the president of the Spanish Association of Hotel Managers in Asturias?
I met the Association at an event in Madrid and its president, Manuel Vegas, offered me to join as president. Since 2020 I am the president in Asturias.

– How have hotel management and the profession of the hotel manager changed in the years that you have been a professional in the sector?
The tourism sector is very changeable, so companies and professionals must adapt very quickly. One of those pillars is sustainability, of course, it has been a great step, not only for our sector, but for society in general. Another important issue is training, the pandemic has caused many trained professionals to leave and we had to look for spare parts that in many cases did not have sufficient training and professionalism. On the other hand, we have technology. It is necessary to adapt to it because new platforms and computer programs are constantly appearing.

– Is it as difficult as some hoteliers and tourism businessmen say to find trained and professional staff?
It is an issue that must be taken into account with which managers are very concerned, there is a shortage of trained personnel for our sector, either in the hospitality industry or in accommodation. At AEDH events where directors from different autonomous communities meet, it becomes clear that we all have the same problem.

-And the declarations of some government politicians, such as those of Minister Alberto Garzón, accusing tourism of being a sector with little added value, have not helped.
Those of us who work in this sector have always had a backpack and it is because there has always been talk that long hours are worked, that salaries are low… I am convinced that, today, the vast majority of businessmen in the sector They have their employees, at least, with the conditions established by the agreement. We are in a country where the working conditions of workers are something very serious and businessmen have learned that not everything goes. Those who say that we are still without staff for reasons such as hours and salaries are not very well informed about the reality of the sector. Yes, it is true that the hospitality industry has complicated schedules, because there are work shifts that include nights and holidays, but this is agreed upon by agreement and so is the wage. Regarding what Minister Garzón said, I think they were statements at a very bad time and not very thoughtful. It must be remembered that our sector accounts for around 13% of the national GDP and that, therefore, the numbers support us.

– How did you experience such a tough and complex situation for the sector as was the pandemic?
Nowadays, I couldn´t say if we have been lucky or unfortunate to have experienced this already. It is true that the pandemic has helped us to become more resilient within the sector, to realize that we are educated people. It has given us that agility and has made us think of new ways of selling. What is clear to me is that those of us who love this profession of managing hotel establishments must come out of these crises in a stronger way and we are capable of doing so.

– How was last year and how is this being for tourism in Asturias?
The truth is that the pandemic has also helped the destinations on the Cantabrian coast a lot, because the national client saw them as destinations that were not overcrowded and surrounded by nature, which is one of the things that the post-pandemic client is most looking for. The year 2022 has been excellent for Asturias, it has also grown in terms of international
tourists. This 2023 looks very good. Very powerful negotiations have been carried out with several airlines that have connected us with European cities such as Amsterdam, Düsseldorf, Dublin, Rome, Munich, Frankfurt… These are destinations that have never been at our airport. This helps even more for the foreign client to get to know Asturias and choose our destination
as the starting point or end point of a trip along the Cantabrian coast.

– What would you say are the great attractions of Asturias to attract tourism?
There is a very important point that is management, that is, an evolution of tourism in Asturias that has always had a very orderly growth, both on the coast and in the countryside and reflected in the type of infrastructures that were created for the sector . We must also mention the gastronomy, favored by our geography with the Cantabrian Sea and the mountains. Asturias has a very varied gastronomy, of quality and with prices that remain very
tight. Also related to our location is another of our attractions: the landscape. We have a sea with beautiful beaches and a mountain with routes, valleys and rivers of great beauty. We can mention the Picos de Europa, Covadonga and the forest of our western region, which is truly wonderful. Finally, with great importance, I would mention the character that Asturians have, that we are welcoming people and we welcome anyone who comes from abroad. I think they are more than enough incentives to come to Asturias and enjoy the community.

-I imagine that having worked for hotels such as the Reconquista you will have had the opportunity to meet many important people.
Well yes. I have had the opportunity to meet high-level people from fields such as the economy, politics, sports… I always take it with having had the great luck of welcoming Their Majesties the King and Queen to the hotel. That is something I will always carry with me. Receiving very famous people is always a joy, but for me, the Kings have been the most important clients I have ever had.

– Is there any other person who has impacted or surprised you?
Because of the deal, I was very surprised by Vicente del Bosque. I had the opportunity to chat with him for a few minutes in the hotel hall and I was able to verify that he is a man from head to toe, very close and with whom you can have a very good conversation. I remember that he was interested in the hotel, how we were doing with the new brand… It caught my attention that he had that closeness and that knowledge.

– How important is it for professionals like you to belong to the Spanish Association of Hotel Managers?
I believe that the association is of crucial importance. It is an association with 50 years of history, so you have to have some experience and some knowledge. There are not many associations at the national level that can say that they have been helping professionals in a sector for so long. In addition, it is a non-profit association, which is also very important. I believe that all hotel managers should be within the association for all that it contributes to us.