Matthew Mullan has been a general manager of Hilton hotels for over 25 years, and came to Malta in January 2014. He spoke to The Report Company about what makes Malta special as a tourism destination, and what the Hilton has to offer.
The Report Company: What are important factors in marketing Malta worldwide, and which would you identify as its major tourism target markets?
Matthew T Mullan: Malta really entered the world of tourism following the declaration of independence from Britain in September 1964 and has always considered this industry to be a mainstay of the island’s economy.
Initially Malta was marketed to the British market and was perceived as being the perfect place for British tourists to come over and enjoy some sun and sea. However, as the years have gone by, Malta has developed into a cosmopolitan, vibrant destination offering the traveler a variety of facets and options making it an ideal place to visit for culture, history, gastronomy, entertainment, education and much more whilst still enjoying the sun and clear blue sea.
The islands now market themselves on a global level with an obvious emphasis on the continental European markets. This gives the destination an even more varied atmosphere as different nationalities continue to discover the charms they offer.
Whilst China is not yet considered as a major source market, it is one that has great potential for the islands as do other markets like USA, India and Brazil. Malta is working to have itself placed on European itineraries from these markets in conjunction with major European cities like Rome, Paris or London. Malta is easily added on from any of these cities as flights are regular and convenient.
One common aspect that seems to be perceived by all markets is the genuine hospitality of the people of Malta. The smile one gets here is real and heartfelt with a genuine willingness to assist and please any visitor.
“One common aspect that seems to be perceived by all markets is the genuine hospitality of the people of Malta. The smile one gets here is real and heartfelt with a genuine willingness to assist and please any visitor.”Tweet This
TRC: How do you ensure a high quality product in Malta according to Hilton standards worldwide?
MTM: At Hilton Malta we pride ourselves in offering only the highest of possible standards and service. We adhere to Hilton Worldwide standards in all areas of our operation which therefore helps us to ensure that the hotel gets very positive reviews and feedback from guests.
Hospitality remains very much a people industry and therefore with this in mind we focus a lot of our efforts on our people with constant training and development in order to ensure they have the right tools and backing to constantly deliver the best possible service. When you mix this high level of training with the genuine Maltese friendliness and hospitality you have a cocktail that guarantees success and very positive feedback. This is something that can be seen from online feedback and various awards that have been and continue to be received by the hotel over the years.
TRC: How does Malta differ from other Mediterranean countries as a destination?
MTM: Malta’s geographical position and size have sculpted a history and culture that is unique.
It must be remembered that although Malta is actually a very small island – like many in the Mediterranean – it is however very much a thriving, independent nation and not an island off the mainland forming part of another country. This proud nation is now a full member of the EU with an incredibly forward-looking economy that is reaping very positive results and attracting international investment and residents from various parts of the world.
Whilst Malta’s tourism industry remains a pillar of the island’s economy and has gone through four successive years of growth, its overall importance for the islands is being matched by other areas like financial services, i-gaming, IT, pharmaceutical manufacturing, aircraft and shipping registration and aircraft maintenance that have developed over the years.
“This proud nation is now a full member of the EU with an incredibly forward-looking economy that is reaping very positive results and attracting international investment and residents from various parts of the world.”Tweet This
TRC: What does Hilton Malta bring to Malta’s hotel sector?
MTM: Since the reopening in 2000 the Hilton Malta has been the benchmark of hotel accommodation on the islands.
The hotel is very much perceived as the place to stay when in Malta. The ownership of the hotel – The Tumas Group –have always placed great importance in the physical upkeep of the Hotel and the surrounding PortoMaso development, maintaining the area as an exclusive and tranquil spot to enjoy a stay on the islands, be it for pleasure or business.
TRC: How does Hilton Malta tackle seasonality in tourism arrivals?
MTM: It has to be noted that unlike other Mediterranean islands, Malta is very much an all year round destination.
What changes mostly is actually the type of traveller we receive according to the time of year and therefore we adapt our focus, service and facilities according to the needs and requirements of the client.
The autumn and winter client is predominantly one travelling here for business purposes as part of a conference group or cultural leisure visits whilst in spring and summer the focus is more on entertainment, leisure, the sea and having a good time.