FIN-ISHING FIRST

Mexico 2016 | TOURISM | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Eduardo Albor, Director General of Grupo Dolphin Discovery, on the company's growth, breeding dolphins, and working in Mexico and the Caribbean.

Eduardo Albor
BIOGRAPHY
Eduardo Albor has a law degree from the Universidad de Mayab (Anahauc). He also has a MBA in corporate law from the Universidad Anahauc. He served as General Counsel for the Royal Resorts hotel chain and became a founding partner of law firm Camara y Albor. He joined Grupo Dolphin Discovery in 1999.

How has Dolphin Discovery grown to become the world's biggest dolphin company?

The company was set up in 1994, and the people behind the company were Americans and not familiar with how things work in Mexico. I was their business advisor until 1998, when I joined fully. At the time, Cancún did not have the tourist industry that it has now; it was selective and it mostly catered to the US market before the arrival of the European and Spanish chains along the Mayan Riviera. When I joined the company, we prioritized expanding the experience that we provided to other places beyond Cancún, taking this holiday-highlight experience to the people instead of waiting for people to come to us.

What were the challenges of expanding the swimming-with-dolphins concept into a larger business model?

The main challenge is how to grow the business while safeguarding the wellbeing of the dolphins and never compromising on the care that we give them. That has always been our top priority and we have invested heavily in developing better ways to care for them, nurture them, and breed them. We now have the biggest breeding program in the world, and our dedication to R&D has paid off, as the usual success rate in breeding dolphins is 50%; however, our success rate is 70%.

What is unique about Dolphin Discovery's breeding program?

First, breeding is a natural process for the animals. Instead of just letting them breed naturally, we decided to utilize a more sophisticated process where we select the dolphins we want to breed; we choose the season and the time of breeding to create families. We are able to control the process in a scientific and organized manner. When you breed your own dolphins you can plan your expansion better, as you know what is needed and what capacity you have.

What percentage of your business is in the Quintana Roo region and what percentage is international?

By the end of 2016, 50% of our business will be in Mexico while the rest will be overseas. Of that 50% in Mexico, 80% is in Quintana Roo. This is where we started, after all. One of my goals has always been to have at least as much business outside Mexico as inside Mexico. There are all sorts of factors here, such as hurricanes and other natural disasters, climatic factors, and so on that can disrupt the business. Therefore, by diversifying and expanding to other places, we have been able to reduce the risks associated with relying on one single area, city, or region, which is why we opened our first park outside of Mexico in the British Virgin Islands.

As Grupo Dolphin Discovery has expanded, have you kept the initial partners or have other partners come in to support the expansion?

We just have the initial investors; no additional investors have come in over the years. This may change in the future, of course. We are open to anything. At the end of the day, the most important thing is the company and the business, which is why we have decided to invest in the US and European markets over the last year, having already become dominant in Mexico and the Caribbean.

What are your plans and goals for the next few years and what is your vision for the company in five years' time?

If you had asked me five years ago where we would be today, I could not have imagined that we would be where we are today. However, what I would like to see in five years is further expansion in the leisure industry around the world into parks that are not necessarily dolphin parks. We would like to be present in major aquariums and other family entertainment centers and complexes. What I can say with confidence is that we will be one of the most important players in the industry in the coming years—I am sure of that.