14 Nov, 2020 @ 14:15
2 mins read

The rise of the day visitor: How local residents could save Spain’s hotel industry

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THANKS to COVID-19 the Spanish hotel industry has suffered more than ever before. In July, usually one of the busiest months for tourism, hotel cancellations dwarfed booking numbers with more than half of scheduled guests backing out of their holidays.

With expansive 25,000m² gardens, indoor and outdoor pools lined by cabanas, Fairmont Barcelona Rey Juan Carlos has arguably the most impressive grounds of any hotel in the city. Yet when the tourism industry took a blow, even their gorgeous communal areas remained noticeably empty.

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FAIRMONT: The outdoor pool

Adapting quickly, The Fairmont partnered with voucher company Hotel Treats to introduce day passes for its pools and restaurants—within 10 weeks they’d sold 2,000.

As trade from international visitors became increasingly unreliable, customers from closer to home became the clear the solution to save the summer.

And Barcelona hoteliers weren’t the only ones to see the potential of the idea, hotels from Mallorca, Granada, Madrid, Malaga, Alicante and Tarragona have all utilised the day pass idea to get people back through their doors.

“We started the company with the idea to open up luxury hotels to local residents and then the pandemic brought that concept to the forefront,” said Hotel Treats co-founder Kasia Pankowska.

“After lockdown lifted, international tourism just didn’t happen in the same way that it did before,” she explains. “But hotels have employed really clever strategies and have absolutely managed to generate revenue with day passes,” Pankowska says.

Even for hotels firmly situated within the local community, the idea of day visitors has become greatly appealing. “We have a lot of locals in our bars and restaurants but not so much in our rooms or spas,” says PR manager of the Marbella Club Alejandra. But when the club started to offer spa and restaurant packages, they found this started to change.

“When the hotel re-opened after lockdown, we wanted to offer the Marbella Club experience to people who couldn’t travel around but wanted to feel special, or to people who maybe couldn’t afford to stay here but could come for the day,” says Alejandra.  

Notably, a deluxe room in the Marbella Club during the summer season can cost upwards of €1000 a night.

“It’s been the summer of re-enamouring the Spanish clientele,” Alejandra continues. “We are highly dependent on international travel but all of a sudden we had to think how can we make sure we appeal to the local people again? It’s been a huge lesson in flexibility.”

As an added philanthropic incentive, a percentage of each day pass sale at the Marbella Club goes to the Red Cross. “This was a way to get closer to our community and say we’re here, we’re part of the fabric of Marbella and we want to support you,” Alejandra says passionately.

But amid Spain’s second wave of coronavirus, hoteliers would be forgiven for feeling pretty gloomy about their own prospects. Alejandra, however, remains remarkably positive:

“This hotel has such a lengthy history and it was so sad to see it from the inside during lockdown. But people haven’t lost their desire to see new things. They’re more eager than ever. They’re yearning to come back, we just have to provide different types of travel.”

To find your nearest hotel offering day packages visit: www.hoteltreats.com/en/spain

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