El Refugio de Cristal: How digital tools help this eco hotel to better understand their guests’ needs

Making a radical change in your life is probably one of the toughest decisions to make. In 2018, Carlos and Laura – tired of the maelstrom of the city – decided to change direction and move to the countryside to live a more calm and sustainable lifestyle. That is how they discovered Montes de Toledo, a picture-perfect natural environment made up of several mountain ranges, which divide the Tagus and Guadiana basins.

After a period of intense searching, they found the perfect place next to Cabañeros National Park: El Refugio de Cristal, an ecological bioclimatic and sustainable hotel located in the magical valley of Hontanar, the perfect place for connecting to nature.

The Refugio de Cristal is supplied with heat from the sun as its main energy source. ‘A bioclimatic house means that we try to consume the fewest fossil resources possible. We have achieved maximum energy self-sufficiency by using solar power.’

Energy savings are attained via solar panels and a biomass boiler that provides a comfortable temperature to the spaces via olive pit combustion. The hotel also re-uses both rainwater for watering green spaces and grey water to fill the toilet tanks and other installations.

‘COVID-19 has been a rollercoaster ride.’ In the last year, El Refugio de Cristal was closed for approximately six months. However, the sudden and unexpected nature of the pandemic encouraged them to refocus their campaigns in the autonomous community by using Google Ads. ‘Before the pandemic, some 95% of our guests came from Madrid and our campaigns were focused on a target market coming from this large city. Starting in May 2020, with Google campaigns refocused geographically, we have been establishing ourselves here in Castile-La Mancha. Indeed, we are currently welcoming many more customers from this region than before. Now approximately 20% of all guests come from the surrounding area, while before this group represented 2-3%.’ This translates into an increase of some 600%.

Based on the pandemic situation and its influence, they realised that they were not taking full advantage of Google tools and thus decided to centre more on them. As Carlos explains, ‘we now spend more time on our Google Business Profile. It is important to take utmost advantage of all the data provided to us by Google Analytics, because they help us to know our potential customers’ needs and demands much better.’

They ensure that ‘there is no business future without digitalisation’. In fact, one of their upcoming projects is to create an app to make it easier for their guests to plan their getaways and make bookings. They also plan to build a multidisciplinary room for hosting group activities, opening the hotel more days each week to keep working on sustainability to improve their pro-environment services that they offer their customers.

The Google Business Profile is one of the most useful of all the digital tools we have available to show photos of our retreat hotel. Thanks to this tool, we have direct contact with customers, who can in turn leave tips and suggestions so that other people can get to know our services and the surrounding area a bit better.

LAURA CASTELLANOS, CO-FOUNDER, El Refugio de Cristal

Location

Toledo, Spain

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