Santiago Garcia Solimei recently joined Carlota Pico to chat about his role as global director of social media for Meliá Hotels International. Santiago discussed how Meliá has supported frontline workers during the pandemic, and how they managed to reach audiences despite lockdown through entertaining virtual activities. He also outlined the comeback plan they designed in order to make guests feel safe, and how the company has reinvented itself over the years to embrace and engage with younger generations.

You can watch the full conversation in the video above or on YouTube, listen to the podcast on Apple and Spotify, and read our recap below.

Key takeaways

  • Fostering cross-generational collaboration in the workplace is essential. New generations can spearhead strategies on emerging platforms—such as TikTok—while older generations use their expertise to drive more traditional endeavors.
  • Tips for managing remote teams include limiting meetings to half an hour in order to maintain focus; creating follow-up documents to summarize meetings; and always using the appropriate communication method for the situation at hand.
  • Meliá underwent a digital transformation that positioned their CEO as a “social CEO” and the brand as “generation friendly,” which enabled them to reach younger audiences like millennials and Gen Z—especially with their INNSiDE hotel brand.
  • During lockdown, Meliá donated 20,000 rooms to nurses, doctors, security forces and other frontline workers. Additionally, they offered online yoga classes, pilates lessons, cocktail sessions and other virtual activities for their audiences.
  • As part of Meliá’s post-lockdown strategy, the brand rolled out the “Stay Safe with Meliá” campaign with the global organization Bureau Veritas, which endorsed and certified their protocols in order to make guests feel safe in the “new normal.”

There’s a new paradigm in society based on the need to be relevant. You have to be working with new generations, and you need to care about social responsibility, local culture and the environment. All of this is integrated into the DNA of Meliá Hotels.

Rapid-fire recs

What’s an app or tool that you can’t work without?

Lately I’m all about TikTok—it’s the app of 2020! I’m not part of that generation, obviously, but I’m trying to understand the power of it while enjoying the immense amount of creativity.

Another one I’m into at the moment is WeChat, a Chinese messaging, social media and mobile payment app. Currently you need to be in China to realize its full potential, but in the future I see more social channels mirroring WeChat, as an all-in-one tool to integrate into our lives.

An influencer or a professional role model that you admire?

I would have to say Barack Obama. The way he conducts himself and the messages he spreads of peace, agreement and understanding are so inspiring to me. I think he’s a leader who we could all use at this time.

Another source of inspiration is Steve Jobs. What he’s done in terms of technology and creating change is remarkable.

A valuable resource, event or group?

Andy Stalman—who’s based in Madrid and from Argentina like me—writes very interesting books about marketing. His latest book is “Totem,” which is a great read about the fundamental change that’s happening between brands and consumers.

Connect with Santiago and Carlota on LinkedIn.

You can also find Santiago on Twitter and Instagram, and follow Meliá on LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.

This post was edited by Mary Kresge, a freelance content creator based in Madrid.

For more insights into digital transformations, check out:

interview with Skyscanner’s Ayoub El Mamoun on the future of travel and social media.

Engineer success online – Annie Ross, global marketing & comms manager at Penspen

The year of online events – Tiffany Mayne, EMEA head of marketing at GB Intelligence

To see the full transcript, click on page number 2 below.