SalouFest Students kick start a bumper year in Spain!
Since the 1990's the cost-effective choice of tour for sports students has been to head to organised multi-sport easter festivals, however back then options were somewhat limited and the Isle of Man was the only go-to destination! Since ILOVETOUR’s inception 16 years ago, their sell-out festivals in Spain, Croatia, Italy and Holland have since become a rite of passage for thousands of university students, all of whom have undoubtedly benefited from this essential life experience.
2016 is set to be a bumper year for Spain with reports of an indicative 27% increase in tourism following the tragic events in Egypt and Tunisia. In such a turbulent time for the tourism industry, its reassuring to see the next generation of tourists still committed to their travelling exploits. With this in mind, youth marketing agency KRPT’s Inder Phull, caught-up with ILOVETOUR.co.uk Managing Director, Sam Seward at Youth Marketing London 2016, to get his views on the Easter period ahead and the sometimes controversial Saloufest.
KRPT: How is 2016 looking for ILOVETOUR University Tours?
Sam Seward: Festival Croatia has been phenomenally popular this year. It sold-out even faster than the 2015 edition. Saloufest has again, seen demand massively outstrip supply and we’re very excited for another huge Easter.
KRPT: How do you select destinations for the events?
Sam Seward: We look for a number of things;
1. Quality sports venues are hugely important. We provide a very wide range of sports (most popular are netball, hockey, rugby, lacrosse and cheerleading) and our clients are used to the excellent standard facilities UK universities enjoy - so they have high expectations, which we also aspire to meet.
2. Our next priority is researching, auditing and selecting the large resort-style hotels. Our events are large (anywhere from 1,000 to 5,000 people per event) so hotels need space, great quality rooms, good food and entertainment facilities. Our hotels have to adhere to very strict health and safety assessments and we spend a lot of time working through client feedback and ensuring our hotels are delivering consistently great service levels.
3. Finally, we look at the infrastructure and facilities of the resort, accessibility by air and by road, medical & civil controls e.g. a Police department used to dealing with youth tourism and finally a vibrant and varied number of nightlife venues. Our clients are all aged 18-24 so this is of paramount importantance to them.
KRPT: Any new events in the pipeline?
Sam Seward: I’m excited to say we’ll be launching ILOVETOUR’s first event in Lloret de Mar in 2017. British university students have been travelling to Lloret since 2002 so we understand there is demand for the resort and have been working with our partners to create something very special there for next year. I can’t say any more than that - but watch this space!
KRPT: It’s been suggested Saloufest has an uncomfortable relationship with the Media in Spain. What’s your view on this?
Sam Seward: I think we’re typically 'easy pickings' during a traditionally quiet news period- but things have really improved of late. I think the Spanish Media and the locals recognize there is real value in the tourism we bring.
I completely understand the perception that Saloufest’s youth tourism is 'at odds' with Salou’s family tourism message- but we’re in and gone literally months before the peak summer holiday season begins.
We avoid residential areas and strictly monitor our noise levels. The idea that we get lots of complaints from locals is utterly ridiculous and is a creation of the media. Salou suffered economically last year due to the collapse of Russian tourism and some corners of the media in Catalunya blamed us for that downturn. I hope with the rocketing demand for the Costa Dorada this summer, those people will find something else to write about.
KRPT: When you say value, what do you mean?
Sam Seward: With clients, security, drivers and staff etc. we’ll bring over 10,000 people into Salou this year alone. We purchase well over 40,000 hotel bed-nights in a 3-week ‘off-peak’ period.
Despite what is shaping up to be a massive summer in Salou, the fact is 90% of the hotels we work with would not be open during those days if not for our event. Their staff would be otherwise unemployed and their doors closed.
Other than our clients, there is hardly anyone in the resort during these ‘off-peak’ dates- many of the shops are closed and the bars/restaurants don’t open. We don’t have any customers in Salou during the Easter weekend when the place comes alive with regular tourism.
In terms of spending-money, based on our customer surveys we estimate around €2.5m cash will be spent in the shops, restaurants and bars of Salou by people coming to Salou only for Saloufest this Easter. I’d estimate the annual event is worth over €5m in total to the Salou/Reus/Tarragona area.
KRPT: Tell me about the #toursquadgoals campaign this year?
Sam Seward: We’re unbelievably committed to creating the safest environment possible for our students. All our resorts have a 24/7 security & supervisory staff provision and while our customers are all adults, we apply industry-leading safety audit standards in our hotels, vehicles and sports venues.
This year we are trying to encourage our students to take greater care of each other and recognise they have a responsibility for their team-mates. Students will see our campaign material in resort and on line and we hope it helps reinforce the need to party responsibly and look after each other.