D. Miguel Fluxá, CEO of Iberostar Group; entrepreneurial spirit
By going into one of these stunning resorts in Punta Cana, the splendor leads us to think that behind this concept there is a large impersonal corporation.
But nothing is further from reality in the case of Iberostar Group, where each hotel has the stamp of its founder Miguel Fluxá. The group came to the island in 1993, the fi rst place chosen for its expansion in the Caribbean.
He was born in 1938 in a village of Mallorca (Spain) and took control of Iberia Travel in 1962, a travel agency bought by his father six years ago. Faithful to the entrepreneurial and innovative spirit his father instilled in him, Miguel Fluxà expanded business and focuses on the hotel sector. Thus, the tourism holding emerged in 2000 and today he is its Executive Director.
Having a clear idea of being international, this entrepreneur has always worked analyzing all situations carefully being wise before acting. He recognizes to have a notebook and a pencil beside the bed to write its ideas down once they come in his mind when he cannot sleep and set them up the next day. He realizes the signifi cance of knowing “to say no” and making your best effort at work to get what you want. Under the direction of his daughters, the fourth generation is in charge of this multinational company with about 100 hotels in 27 countries worldwide and with 67,000 beds in over 40 destinations. Everything is a future project where innovation and quality are two of the values that make them to success.
When you were a little boy and worked in a shoe factory, did you think at some point in pursuing the world of hotel and catering business?
In 1956, my father bought a small travel agency with 6 offi ces named Iberia Travel just when I fi nished my career in Business, which was one of the fi rst degrees in Business in Spain. I was very attracted to this sector and we have been working with vision and quality through years to set up what is now the Iberostar Group.
What did your father teach you?
I keep some of the most important lessons of my life from my father. He had a very strong entrepreneurial spirit and trusted innovation as a tool to get the best results always. He instilled in us some principles that we consider fundamental in my family, like love to the profession, honesty and seriousness. The best advice he could give me was the need to be international and to promote quality as a basic pillar of any business I would want to carry on, something that has been essential in the development of Iberostar.
Do you still have the entrepreneurial and innovative spirit instilled in you since childhood?
Undertaking or innovations are actions that go far beyond a specific decision or a moment in your life, they are a way to run a company and meet new challenges in an industry.
Why do you think it was so important to your father the idea of ‘being international’?
My grandfather created the first shoe industry of Mallorca in 1877 and one of the first of Spain. He was a visionary person in this sense, since he exported shoes before the nineteenth century. In 1890 he was exporting already shoes to Cuba and the Philippines, Spanish colonies at that time. He always traveled there and spent almost three months to get there. As an anecdote, and according to father, when peace between Cuba and Spain was signed, my grandfather had to send a ship full of shoes for the military back again, because the war was already over. My grandfather was the founder of this industry and even then he knew the importance of being international.
When my father had to manage the factory at the age of 21, there was no leather or raw materials because the country was at that time a deadlock. He had to go to Germany in several occasions to buy products because it was the only country that sold us then. He lived a shortage of raw materials, difficulties and financial problems living by banks in Spain as well. Many banks had no money but my father had money in his account and hard currency to buy raw materials and pay the wages of workers.
My father had this vision of openness to the world and he always instilled in us the fact of being international in order to diversify our business and ensure a great future.
Your father bought six offices of Iberia Travel in 1956. Why do you decide to make the leap for hotels?
We started with 6 travel agencies, with a turnover of 40 million pesetas a year. But we were lucky enough to have a great tourist development of 60, 70 and 80 and we dedicated as a travel agency to incoming tourism and represented major tour operators.
Then we expanded the business and later, when we had a certain amount, we realized we needed to get into hotels and that is when we begin to explore this field to have a base of accommodations to offer to our own customers.
In 1986 we opened the first Iberostar hotels in Mallorca and the Canary Islands. Our inclusion in the hotel market represented a logical step as of our industry experience. Until then we have witnessed the rise of European tourists who chose our country and the value of Spain as tourist power internationally. We wanted to offer the full experience.
Why did you choose a star as a symbol of Iberostar?
We have always been clear that we are a company focused on holiday tourism, the sun, relaxation and beach. The starfish is an element that besides being aesthetically attractive and versatile brought us closer to those vacations and reminded us all that we wanted to transfer to our customers.
Your first hotel bet abroad was, in 1993, in Dominican Republic. What was the reason for this choice?
In 1993, we opened our first hotel in Dominican Republic, the Iberostar Bávaro, just seven years after starting with our first hotel in Mallorca. The experience was very positive not only for the spectacular beaches and natural places of the area, but also and above all for the people of the country. It’s amazing the warmth of the people, their kindness, smile, dedication to service, and the human manners while dealing with customers.
Since then and for the past 20 years, we have increased our presence in destination and now we have six facilities of different features but all located in privileged places. They remain among the best hotels of our whole chain.
What future plans involve the Dominican Republic?
Dominican Republic is and will remain one of the main Iberostar destinations worldwide with six hotels opened. For the future our goal is to continue improving our services in facilities that are already part of our portfolio and to go on any opportunity assessment that might be interesting in expanding our presence in this country.
You have said on occasion that we must learn to say no in difficult situations. Did you have been through this?
Obviously I have had to make decisions in difficult situations throughout my career. I always say that a good businessman or entrepreneur shall be judged by the number of successes and if your successes outnumber failures, then you are a good businessman automatically. I, when I make a good investment always think what’s the worst that could happen and when I accept this, the rest is profit.
Let’s talk about Iberostar Foundation.
The Iberostar Foundation was incorporated in 2004 aiming to help countries that had received us with open arms so we could expand our business and the way we understood that we could return this gesture was through training.
If you train people and also offer them a job, you contribute directly to the development of the country where you have business. Through the Foundation, and in countries like Brazil, Dominican Republic, Jamaica or Mexico, we have taught many people who were illiterate, who could not write or read, we’ve taught them writing and reading, we have taught them a profession and we gave them a job later. We understand that you must return to society what society has given to you and the way we find was creating jobs, educating people and this makes us extremely happy.
Your daughters are now in charge of the group. How do you see them?
The task was not easy and they have met the challenge with flying colors. Their strong background and extensive knowledge on tourism industry at international level have helped them to become responsible for different business areas within the Group and to develop their work flawlessly, always defending values and the philosophy of the brand which I tried to transmit to them since they were little. Undoubtedly, Iberostar continues in the best hands.
What role do you play now?
As Executive Director of Iberostar Group I am still leading the Group’s strategy through each of the entities that comprise it. This means that I’m still traveling and visiting destinations and hotels, even more than before!
My daughters, who are executive vice president, bring me their vision of the company and the sector as well. These opinions certainly mark the next steps of the Group.
What is the future of the Iberostar Group?
Our idea is to grow in the field we know, which is the holiday tourism but growing in a wise and continuous way. We deeply evaluate the acquisition of each new hotel and if it fits into our product line. Quality growth is essential for us when we analyze expansion possibilities.
In our company we propose as a challenge that every guest lives a unique holiday with Iberostar. Under this premise we work every day and this will also remain our utmost in the future.
What have you been forced to give up in life?. To spend more time with my family
What has been your greatest success?. My family
What keeps you up at night?. Quality
A dream. The Iberostar Group goes through other generations. We are on the 4th!
A trip to be made. Japan
A book. Historical novels and biographies
Your hobbies. Sailing and Pilates
What do you hate most of human?. Lies and lack of commitment
What do you admire?. Trust and given word
A corner in the world. Majorca
A corner in Dominican Republic. Bávaro Beach
A memory. 1993, opening of our first hotel outside Spain in Bávaro Beach, Dominican Republic.
One moment. The birth of my granddaughter
An obsession. Professionalism
People you admire. My father
When you were little, ¿what do you want to be?. To work in tourist field
Keys of your success. Perseverance, vision, trust and reliability
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