The topic for this year's forum was about the current situation of family businesses on the island as a result of the recession and their contribution to create employment, growth and increase productivity in more difficult ecomomic times.
On the day of the Forum, Pepe was interviewed by the 'Menorca' daily newspaper about Artiem Hotels' approach on this topic. The following is a translation of article as it appeared in the edition of Wednesday 15th October 2014 by Javier Gelabert.
He grew up in a family business and as a child he knew that he wanted to be entrepreneur. Jose Guillermo Diaz Montañés (Madrid, 1962) studied industrial engineering and reveals that he opted for tourism "by chance". The adventure started with his wife Gabriela Aliaga in 1993 and now the hotel group which he presides, Artiem Hotels, accounts for three establishments on the island and in high season employs 190 workers. He has been president of the Spanish Confederation of hotels and tourist accommodation (CEHAT) and founding president of the Institute of Technology Hotels (HTI).
How do you do make a space for a family business in an industry that is so competitive?
- The secret is to be different and unique. It is not a matter of size but of imagination, of doing things different and very well. 20 Years ago, size was important. The incurring costs to enter a new market was an unmanageable burden for a family business, whereas now, with new technologies, imagination and little budget you can do so. Imagination is the most powerful tool. The imagination and persevere in what you want, work hard. Its 24 hours a day. Its vocational. If you look at the hours you work, it makes no sense. It is not an economic issue.
What mark does the company make being a family business?
-You make your mark with family values. A family business looks to long term. Many decisions are not profitable in the short term. In the recession we have invested more, when - having had another character - we could have waited for better times. You sacrifice profitability in the short-term by long-term benefits.
Does that have anything to do with being repeated among the 50 top companies to work in Spain, according to employees?
-We have two philosophical principles. One is to understand our social responsibility as a way be more competitive. The other is that if we get that the people working in Artiem be happy, the customer will be pleased. The system of Great Place to Work (the consultant elaborated ranking) allows you to compare yourself with other companies and that it is essentially our goal of attract talent. Comparing us with Google or Coca Cola us helps to see how much we remains to be done.
Does a family company provide more job security?
-That would be for the employees to say, but we, by definition, want permanent employees. It is risky, but it gives value to the company. When the customer returns and recognizes people, they feel at home.
The great criticism of the hospitality industry is that its success is not impact the wealth of the island...
-There is much disinformation because we have not communicated well. Tourism businesses create much value. They create jobs and invest in local products. We work for our environment to thrive. Many companies have that mentality, but do not transmit it. Remove the hotel companies of the island and see what happens...
Hotel Accommodation versus residential accommodation. What do you think about this?
- What is missing is a clear idea of what we want. The two models have advantages and disadvantages. But what do you want Menorca to be? This vagueness is killing us. I have been hearing this debate for 27 years. If we do not know where we want to go, we will not achieve anything. To carry out a project makes it lack vision, know that you want.
Is it a good time during a recession to start a project?
-Any time is good. When I started in 93 my family told me I was crazy. There was a very strong recession, and it seemed that the world was going to end.
Now here I am. To be born during a recession gives you a training that makes you better. What is important is to be convinced and have a vision. If you are not clear about where you want to go, your people will not follow. You have to see the road.