A year on from Club 18-30’s demise, Ibiza Rocks founder Andy McKay tells Juliet Dennis what today’s young holidaymakers want.

A year ago, Thomas Cook’s Club 18-30 youth brand closed down after more than 50 years. It was the end of the industry’s best‑known ‘party’ holiday brand, and signalled a change in the market’s needs and tastes.

A year on, one of the youth brands enjoying enviable growth is Ibiza Rocks in Ibiza.

Founder Andy McKay said the hotel’s success has come from tapping into the new demands of today’s young holidaymakers, particularly the growth in importance of social media.

Looking good

Top of the agenda for many young holidaymakers is to look good on social media.

This is the reason for daytime parties, he said, adding: “Social behaviour has changed. In terms of sharing content, you don’t look so good at 4am in a techno club.”

Demand for daytime pool parties and poolside entertainment, particularly strong music acts, has grown dramatically as a result.

McKay said: “Daytime is far more important in Ibiza than the nightlife. Nightclubs have also become more about the music than about going on the pull.”

Suppliers are also feeling the pressure to provide top-notch product, with every element of the holiday up for scrutiny in online user reviews, said McKay. Gone are the days when operators or hoteliers can get away with poor product by sugar-coating it with booze-fuelled excursions so clients forget about the lumpy mattress or poor food.

Ibiza-Rocks-2

McKay said: “There’s a two-way social feedback loop. We have businesses and customers reviewing us. This has upped people’s games.

“Look at the quality of the food in resort. The quality threshold is going up, but the pressure on price is as great as it’s ever been. It is more important you deliver value and what the customer wants.”

Club 18-30 thrived on selling cheap holidays and excursions in resort. Reps were key to its success by acting as in-resort salesmen.

“The market has shifted. Access to information online means the traditional holiday rep is an old model. Club 18-30 was all about selling cheap holidays to the youth market and taking advantage of their lack of knowledge and making a big profit on excursion sales,” said McKay. “We’ve stopped our hosts selling; we see it as a decreasing business. The market has pre-decided and pre-bought what they want to do.“

Youth market

To put it into perspective, Ibiza Rocks now enjoys audiences of 3,000 holidaymakers at its daytime poolside parties. The average age of clients is 26.

The shift has also meant that, a year on from the closure of Club 18-30, fewer traditional operators want to enter this space, he claimed.

“There has been less appetite for selling youth holidays because there’s less in it for the big operators,” said McKay, who is keen to work with more agents wanting to capitalise on the gap in the market.

For McKay, the proof that Ibiza Rocks is doing what young clients want is in the pudding. Hotel revenue is up 68% year on year as a result of putting on more events. Rooms start from €53.30 a night, but clients spend a significant amount in resort.

Club 18-30 may not be how young partygoers want to holiday now but, a year on, the youth holiday market is alive and well.