During his Esade Matins session, the Global CEO of Areas stated “we want to proceed with the strategy that we laid out several years ago: to reinforce and maintain our current position in Europe (which is very strong now) and to grow organically and inorganically in the USA”. Esade Matins sessions are moments for business reflection that are organised by Esade Alumni and held in Esade facilities, in which the directors of renowned companies explain their vision for the sector and for the company that they manage.
To proceed with this strategy, the company will focus on its four key pillars: its team, its relationship with concession-holders, its portfolio of brands and its operational excellence. “Areas is now the world’s third largest tour operator, turning over €1.9 billion a year through sales in 12 different countries and providing services to over 340 million clients every year”, stated Vela. “We are now the fifth largest tour operator in the United States, where our sales exceed 300 million euros every year. We’ve managed to act quickly and flexibly to fight against larger competitors. Nowadays, Spanish sales only represent 25% of our company’s revenue”, he added.
Areas’ Global CEO was accompanied by Pedro Fontana, who is the current chairman of the company’s board of directors. Fontana previously held the roles of Global CEO of Areas and chairman of the ESADE board of trustees.
The Global CEO of Areas explained the company’s “internal and external” transformative capacity since the economic crisis of 2008, when it renewed its portfolio of brands, including house brands (Airea, Deli&Cia and La Pausa), franchises (attracting customers at the point of sale, such as Paul, Starbucks and Burger King) and co-branding (alongside large consumer companies such as Mahou, Lavazza, Ferrari, etc.).
When asked what the company represents in Spain, the guest speaker of this ESADE Matins session outlined that “the Spanish business unit now exceeds 550 million euros, and has taken a very significant turn in the way it approaches clients, offering hotter and more modern concepts as are now demanded by the food travel sector”.
Back to its roots
During the session, the Global CEO of Areas recalled that, in order to reach this point, “Areas was extremely clear from the get-go that the whole world was its market”. As such, in 2001 it struck up a partnership with the French company Elior, which allowed it to further expand its network.
“In 2006, we began our most famous and attractive adventure. Namely, our leap into the US market, which is bigger and faster-growing than its European counterpart. In 2009, we were awarded the Florida Turnpike, which is the world’s most famous motorway. We also struck a 40-year contract that comprised eight macro service areas. This changed the way in which our company was viewed in the United States. It gave us credibility, and we started to win contracts in key airports such as Chicago, Atlanta, Maryland House and Los Angeles”.
Following the purchase of Areas by PAI Partners in July, “the decision was made to bring the management team to Barcelona, meaning that the world’s third largest tour operator is now managed from the Catalan capital. With this, we have closed the circle and returned home”, Vela explained.
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