Rethinking Business Strategy in Times of Crisis
The tourism crisis that has enveloped Spain since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic has forced the industry – and hotel chains in particular – to seek out alternative lines of business. This is the case at Gallery Hoteles, which has reopened its hotels – which had been closed since the declaration of the state of emergency until October – with a successful new strategy: Gallery Homtel. We spoke with Ariadna Randuà (EMMV 19), Marketing and Communications Manager at Gallery Hoteles, to learn more about it.
At a time when international tourists had vanished in the wake of the pandemic and hotels sat practically empty, these establishments had to rely on visitors travelling from inside the country. In September, Gallery Hoteles launched a new business strategy based on the customer-centric philosophy. The company’s entire team was involved in making this new strategy a success.
“In the autumn, most guests at Gallery Hoteles – Gallery Hotel in Barcelona, Molina Lario in Málaga and Hotel Honucai in Mallorca – are business travellers. We realised that this type of professional customer had changed, in particular by adopting a new pattern of behaviour: they worked from home and couldn’t go to the office, much less travel. Faced with this reality, we saw that we clearly had to adapt, and quickly, to offer a product that matched the new needs and motivations of our target customers, as well as their new behaviours,” explained Ariadna Randuà.
That’s why they created Gallery Homtel, a product designed for professionals who want to move their home office from their residence to the hotel, enjoying all the perks of a four-star superior establishment. Under the umbrella of the Gallery Homtel brand, the company transformed meeting rooms into co-working spaces, converted bedrooms into private offices (by removing the bed) and made the hotel suitable for long stays, allowing guests to book a room for a fixed monthly rate (starting at €700).
All this was possible thanks to the customer-centric philosophy, which the company had already adopted before the pandemic. This approach involves thinking less about the product and more about the needs and motivations of the target customers. As a result, all of the company’s energy is focused on adapting their products – or creating new ones – to meet those needs. “Before the pandemic, we studied our target audience thoroughly – how they interacted, depending on where they came from, with the Barcelona, Málaga and Mallorca brands (where our hotels are located), trends, etc.,” commented Ariadna. “Because of this, today have a very clear idea of who we are targeting, what motivates them, what they like, how they behave when they visit a city and what they expect from hotels like ours. We know all this by segment and by country. Because we know our customers so well, we are able to move forward and, most importantly, to react quickly during a crisis.”
“Thanks to the customer-centric philosophy, we think less about the product and more about the needs and motivations of our target customers”
Having laid this groundwork, the company knew what steps to take. They observed their professional target customers and analysed their new reality: teleworking. They realised that working from home involved a series of pains – unstable Internet connection, not having a proper desk and screens, sharing a workspace with the rest of the family, etc. – but also a very important gain: the flexibility of working from anywhere. So they decided to leverage this flexibility, while at the same time providing a solution to all the pains by adapting their hotels.
Speedy adaptation and vision for the future
From the moment the idea was hatched, it only took five weeks to adapt the hotels, create a brand, build a website and notify the press. This is only possible if the whole company truly believes in the idea and works together as one. A multidisciplinary task force was created. The core of this team was made up of people who needed to be involved in order for the project to go ahead; others were brought in as necessary. Above all, the speed of the decision-making process was crucial. “In the situation we were in, the whole team understood that it wasn’t about coming up with a perfect product,” explained Ariadna. “It was about launching it quickly, being very attentive to customer feedback and adapting the product as needed. I like to think that our approach was inspired on the Lean methodology.”
“The whole company has to truly believe in the idea and work together as one. For us, the speed of the decision-making process was crucial”
Today, the target segment is showing interest. Although Ariadna believes it is too early to discuss results, she notes that the company is getting lots of calls every day from interested prospects. “Living in Gallery Hotel costs as little as €700 a month, depending on the length of your stay,” she noted. “Access to a co-working space can cost €50 a day, and you also get access to the gym, the solarium and the sauna, just like you would if you were a hotel guest. These are market prices with all the advantages of being in a four-star superior hotel in the centre of Barcelona or Málaga.”
Looking to the future, Ariadna’s recommendation is clear: the customer must be at the centre of all of the company’s decisions, as long as they are profitable. “Once we have a clear idea of how to adapt the product, we need to act quickly while listening to the customer. There is no time for big business plans. We need to act now.”