The luxury Puerto Rico property has prospered despite a 4-year closure following Hurricane Maria in 2017, a global pandemic, and the adjustment of leaving the umbrella of one of the world’s largest hospitality brands.
Luis A. Méndez, Director of Sales & Marketing, El Conquistador Resort: “Our partnership with Amadeus has allowed us to not only survive but to thrive at the end of a challenging period including closure due to a hurricane, a worldwide pandemic, and, most importantly, a shift from branded to independent status. At the end of just three short years of operating independently and using a full suite of Amadeus solutions, our property is not only experiencing growth throughout every channel, but direct bookings are substantially higher than our competitors, and we have finally brought our ADR back in line with 2019 levels. As we continue to grow, we have confidence in Amadeus, the leading name in travel technology, to provide us with ongoing support.”
|Category-5 Hurricane Maria makes landfall on Puerto Rico, devastating the island and closing down the resort for extensive repairs||September 2017|
|The property is purchased by Urbano Varro, LLC to operate independently as El Conquistador Resort||November 2019|
|Hotels throughout the Caribbean shut down due to the impact of the pandemic||March 2020|
|El Conquistador Resort reopens after a full renovation||May 2021|
Setting the scene
El Conquistador Resort, situated in the beautiful coastal town of Fajardo, Puerto Rico, offers magnificent views of the sparkling Caribbean and amenities including a seaside waterpark, golf course, multiple pools and an oceanfront spa. Surrounded by some of Puerto Rico’s most beautiful natural attractions – El Yunque National Rainforest, the Bioluminescent Bay, and the Kioskos de Luquillo – it is the perfect property for families and couples, meeting groups, and honeymooners.
The hotel’s current set of solutions includes Amadeus’ Digital Media Solutions (SMS, GDS Media, Meta); Reservations Solutions (iHotelier, GDS, ODD, Consortia); Guest Management Solution (GMS) – Marketing Automation; Website Solutions; and Business Intelligence Solutions (Agency360®, Demand360®, RevenueStrategy360™).
The multiple challenges faced by this resort property over the past several years have ranged from re-opening after Hurricane Maria to facing delays in re-opening due to the pandemic to some unique scenarios when shifting from branded to fully independent status.
In 2017, Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico’s infrastructure. The resort closed for refurbishment, as did the majority of hotels on the island.
In the fall of 2019, the previously branded property was purchased to run independently as the El Conquistador Resort by Urbana Varro, LLC: a commercial real estate investment company accustomed to handling independent properties in some very large markets. El Conquistador’s buyers were faced with the challenge of how to maintain the same level of business and clientele the property had enjoyed belonging to one of the most recognized brands in the world.
As brand recognition had been such a major component of the resort’s past success, the decision for this hotel to shift to independent status was not an easy one. However, El Conquistador’s strong relationship with Amadeus (at the time, TravelClick) provided the property’s buyers with a sense of optimism that the transition to be an independent property would be successful. This would also save the property on franchise fees, allowing the new owners to get the most out of their investment.
Early in 2020, the pandemic then forced a shutdown of nearly the entire hotel industry, delaying the resort’s re-opening date to May 2021.
FALL 2019 –
As the property became independent, its new owners realized they had to establish a completely new Central Reservation System (CRS), building a new integration with the property’s PMS, and a compelling digital media strategy to help drive revenue.
Leveraging the insights provided by Amadeus’ business intelligence solutions in combination with digital media and web solutions, the property was able to establish a strategy to attract the right guests to help drive more direct business, bring in ancillary revenue, and ensure the hotel was able to maintain the level of business to which it had been accustomed. The new buyers trusted that Amadeus’ full suite of reservations solutions would be able to cover every facet of acquiring new business, both from existing and prospective guests. By utilizing the iHotelier booking engine – the best in the market – they were able to reach a level of direct bookings never before seen.
EARLY 2021 –
As the hotel prepared to re-open, it was important to let potential visitors become aware of the property, and to let them know that the hotel was safe to visit. A grand re-opening was planned for May 2021.
MARCH 2021 –
- A pay-per-click (PPC) ad campaign targeted
- travelers who were aware of the resort and
- new guests
- Two versions of remarketing banners including visuals of the newly refurbished resort were launched to site visitors who left without making a booking
- A social media campaign was launched, targeting visitors to the El Conquistador site, Facebook and Instagram followers, and other prospects who had shown an interest in traveling to Puerto Rico
- The results of this 8-month campaign were impressive.
- 1,480 bookings
- A Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) of 59:1
NOVEMBER 2021 –
As the property continued to add amenities (access to the private Palomino Island and the opening of Las Casitas’ 1-to 3-bedroom villas) and demand continued to improve, a new campaign was launched:
- PPC with Max Conversion ads targeting brand and non-brand searches by U.S. and Puerto Rico residents focused on higher performing keywords
- Three versions of remarketing banners were updated with fresh, new images
- Social media images (waterpark, Las Casitas Village) were also updated, targeting families. Prospective visitors who’d shown an interest in travel to Puerto Rico continued to receive ads
- Results of this year-long campaign continued to impress
- 3,964 bookings
- ROAS of 96:1
NOVEMBER 2022 –
The campaign’s third year goals – continuing to deliver robust net revenue and maintaining a strong ROAS – were met as the resort added more amenities (additional dining options, the opening of the spa) and even more robust components:
- A PPC with Max Conversion ad campaign targeting brand and non-brand searches by U.S. and Puerto Rico residents continued
- Images were updated on remarketing banners
- A focus on families was continued in social media, with refreshed waterpark and Las Casitas images
- Results of the year-long campaign as of June 2023:
- 4,635 bookings
- ROAS of 110:1
In just three short years operating as an independent property and more effective targeting as a result of better data:
- El Conquistador has gone from a 22% direct booking rate in their first year operating independently to now managing a 46% direct booking rate
- The resort has been able to bring their ADR back to 2019 levels
- The property has managed to grow every channel year over year by an average of 28%. This includes a 65% growth in brand.com bookings and revenue YoY, paired with a 16% drop in OTA reliance.
To learn more about how hoteliers are driving success today, visit our Trendsetters in Travel page.
All data provided is from iHotelier Analytics.