INNOVATORS VS COVID 19
Mallorca: From the Busiest Island in the Mediterranean to One of the Quietest
We talked to Marta Perello of click-mallorca.com about Excursions in Mallorca and here is what she said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Marta Perello: In the summer of 2020, the island of Mallorca was extremely quiet. Normally we receive 8 million tourists a year, and the majority of them come in summer. This year the island, along with the rest of Spain and many other countries, spent a large proportion of the tourist season in lockdown with strict border controls and very few tourists apart from domestic tourists and some Europeans that were permitted to visit for about eight weeks from the middle of July to the middle of September.
All this meant that many businesses remained closed during what should ordinarily be their busiest time of year as there were few flights and few tourists, some hotels that had decided to try to open closed their doors once again.
As we are a touristic company, all this affected us greatly. We also open normally just for the summer season, and we normally have a good, strong start to the season at Easter, which is one of our busiest weeks. This year we remained closed and did not open our doors until the middle of July. They were firmly slammed shut again by the virus at the end of August – we managed about six weeks of business when in a normal season, we work non-stop for eight months.
From a health point of view, the virus has not affected my family or me, but one member of my staff and good friend was hospitalized and was in a serious condition (thankfully recovered now). She did not catch the virus whilst working. In fact, we were not able to set on any of our staff during 2020 due to the lack of work. They all remained furloughed.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded click-mallorca.com.
Marta Perello I am one of the owners and founders of the company, which I started together with my business partner in 2004. When we both worked for travel companies dealing with tourists visiting the island, we thought we could offer a much better experience for holidaymakers to the island. We began our own company with a small programme of tours the first year, combining transport, entrance ticket (where relevant) and guide. When designing our tours, we tried to put ourselves in our customers’ shoes to really try to offer what we thought people wanted or needed. We did this by communicating with visitors to Mallorca, actually going around and speaking to people to ask why they had chosen one tour or another or what they would like to see on offer in Mallorca. We always had very clear right from the beginning that customer service was key. This would be the main element that would set us apart from our competitors.
With this in mind, we have grown every year and tried to widen our programme to reach more people and connect with what they need.
How does click-mallorca.com innovate?
Marta Perello We constantly need to innovate because, quite frankly, our competitors copy us! They copy our excursions and our prices. So we constantly have to develop our programme and find things that others don’t have. And, of course, it has to be something attractive to the customer.
We always ask for feedback from our customers and brainstorm with our staff to find out what tours and experiences people want to do in Mallorca. We study which products have been popular and which have not worked so well. We find out exactly where our customers want to go and what they want to do. And then we put together a package and offer it to them.
We have found that what people want now is quite different from what they wanted when we first started the business. For instance, back then people needed security: they needed a coach tour with a guide who would be with them every step of the way to show them the sights and take care of the logistics of the day out. Nowadays, holidaymakers are much more independent and relaxed and are willing to travel across the island to join an activity that is not operated in the area where they are staying. We have also found that the latest trend is for adventure activities in Mallorca: coasteering, adventure boat trips, kayaking, and snorkelling.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finance and money?
Marta Perello Thanks to having been able to furlough all our staff in 2020 and thanks to those six weeks or so that we were able to open (with just my business partner and I working) we did manage just to break even, scraping just enough to pay for the cost of the furloughs and other company taxes. Had we set on even just one member of staff we would have lost much of the furlough funding for our other staff members, and we would have lost money as a company.
Basically, neither the company nor any member of our staff (nor myself or business partner) have made any money since the outbreak began; everyone has just had to scrape by, as is the case for many businesses and individuals on the island of Mallorca and elsewhere. No profits have been generated, and everyone is just hoping for some stability for the next summer season for travellers to want to visit Mallorca once again and for them to be able to.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Marta Perello With this we have fared better than other touristic companies and companies in other sectors in that, as yet, we have not had to lose any staff members (even though none of them worked last season). We were able to furlough all our permanent staff, and so everyone is still employed. The potential problem in the near future: we do not know what is in store for the 2021 summer season in Mallorca and we do not know what restrictions will be imposed on excursions and organised tours. We hope that things will be as normal as possible and that there will be work for everyone. We also know that this is quite optimistic.
Did you benefit from any government grants and did that help keep your business afloat?
Marta Perello: No, we did not.
Your final thoughts?
Marta Perello: The majority of our customers are Europeans from Germany, France, Italy, Holland, Belgium, Sweden, Denmark, Norway and the UK. In tourism, in Mallorca, we don’t only depend on how well we handle the pandemic in Spain and the Balearic Islands, but we also depend on how well they handle it in every one of the countries where our customers come from. Because if there are travel restrictions in Germany, for example, then the German tourists can’t visit and we lose business.
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