There’s no end to the list of businesses impacted by COVID-19, but the hotel and hospitality industry was dealt a particularly brutal blow. Travel restrictions, safety concerns and closed borders decimated many tourism markets — but not all. Those who were able to pivot to find new ways of serving their local community often found themselves able to weather the storm. In Ibiza, for example, 7Pines capitalized on the hotel staycation trend to attract more regional visitors. Here’s how the luxury hotel adapted to not just survive, but thrive.
Taking action as soon as possible
As a seasonal resort, 7Pines was in the lucky position to be closed when the pandemic started: the resort typically closes in late October and reopens in May. In 2020, however, the management team was planning on opening one of the hotel restaurants and the spa slightly early, in March — just days before the Spanish government would announce the first nationwide lockdown.
“The pandemic impacted our business right from the start,” acknowledges Laura Cazeaux, Cluster Director of Marketing and Communications for 7Pines. It quickly became clear that this shutdown would last much longer than two weeks. So the team got to work brainstorming on ways to reinvent their offerings and shift the resort’s focus to cater to a local and national audience.
Identifying what makes a local audience distinct
The move to prioritizing hotel staycation marketing was a necessary one for the Ibiza resort. Prior to the pandemic, about 90% of 7Pines’ business came from international travel, mainly from the U.K., Germany, the U.S.A., and Switzerland. The “Benelux” region — Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg — was a primary market as well.
The marketing for a more local audience would need to look and feel unique from international marketing campaigns, as a local Spanish clientele views Ibiza in a different light than many global travelers. To locals, the laid-back, wellness-oriented spirit of the island is front and center, while elsewhere in the world, Ibiza is known more as a party destination.
With an existing reputation as a spot for escape and relaxation with this audience, 7Pines was well positioned to promote itself as a spot to relax and enjoy impressive views… even if it’s just a half-hour drive from a potential guest’s home.
Adapting with baby steps
Step one was to develop an enhanced health and safety protocol so that local guests could feel comfortable visiting. From there, 7Pines incrementally opened its facilities, starting with the restaurants, pool and spa, and gradually adding a couple of suites.
Importantly, even when restrictions loosened up, the resort didn’t dive back into business-as-usual right away. The team took small steps with gradual reopening of services to test the waters, bit by bit. This ensured the safety of their guests as we all adapted to new COVID safety measures, but also helped keep operational costs level during a tumultuous period.
Promoting single-day visits
New packages were developed to accommodate this staycation and day-trip audience. There was the Day Pass, which allowed guests to spend the day swimming, enjoying spa treatments and dining, and the Day Use package, which also allowed the guest the use of a suite for the day. “It was a mini daycation,” explain Cazeaux.
The hotel also reactivated its Resident Program (which was in place pre-pandemic) to offer a 20% discount on dining and spa services for island residents.
Ultimately, though, these staycation offerings weren’t huge leaps for the resort. Its success among local markets was more due to a change in perception. “To be honest, we didn’t reinvent the wheel during the pandemic,” says Cazeaux “The pandemic [reminded locals] that 7Pines was also a place for them to enjoy.“
What was new for 7Pines was its “Work in Style” package, which offered the opportunity for remote workers to do so from the resort — call it a “workation” or “work holiday.” This was a long-stay offer with business center amenities to help guests work comfortably during the day, and access to all the resort facilities to really disconnect after office hours were done.
Interestingly, while Spanish visitors did increase exponentially in 2020, this region still only was 7Pines’ third-largest market: U.K. and German guests held onto the top two spots.
To accommodate these international guests even during complicated times, the resort reviewed its terms and conditions and cancellation policy to offer maximum flexibility. Whenever possible, the team offered to move 2020 reservations to alternate dates within the season, or over to 2021.
There’s no one answer for how to do a staycation right, but 7Pines’ ability to reposition itself as a desirable hotel staycation destination for a local audience was one impressive response that could inspire others in the hospitality industry to stay nimble, respond to guests’ needs and flourish — even in the most challenging times.
Learn more about how Pressreader can help hotels adapt to guests’ ever-changing needs.