Club Med chases China mar­ket

China Daily (Canada) - - ACROSSAMERICA - By AMY HE in New York amyhe@chi­nadai­lyusa.com

Club Med, the French com­pany known for its re­sort va­ca­tion pack­ages, has its sights on the Chi­nese tourist like many other in­ter­na­tional travel com­pa­nies, and by 2015 it hopes that China will be­come its sec­ond-big­gest cus­tomer base af­ter France, ac­cord­ing to Club Med’s North Amer­i­can CEO Xavier Mufraggi, who spoke to China Daily on Club Med’s China strat­egy.

Ear­lier this month Club Med opened its third re­sort property in China on Dong’ao Is­land in the South China Sea, and is set to open two more by 2015, bring­ing the to­tal num­ber in the coun­try to five. The com­pany, known for pi­o­neer­ing the “all-in­clu­sive re­sort”, is hop­ing to at­tract 200,000 people from greater China in two years’ time, up from the 45,000 in 2012 when it be­gan tar­get­ing China as part of its in­ter­na­tional ex­pan­sion, ac­cord­ing to Mufraggi.

The com­pany has faced stag­na­tion from its Euro­pean clients due to a re­ces­sion, and China, along with Brazil and the US, is

The‘

mar­ket in Europe is flat but not grow­ing as it used to. We see real growth com­ing from China and from Brazil, where we also have foothold.” XAVIER MUFRAGGI CLUB MED’S NORTH AMER­I­CAN CEO

help­ing off­set that slump, said Mufraggi.

“We see that Chi­nese, Brazil­ian, Cana­dian and the Amer­i­can tourists com­pen­sate for the stag­na­tion in Europe. Even now, more than com­pen­sate,” he said. The com­pany opened its first Chi­nese re­sort in 2010, 60 years af­ter its found­ing, and cur­rently has head­quar­ters in Shang­hai.

To­day, Club Med’s top-five cus­tomers come from France, Bel­gium, the US and the UK, with Canada and China both tied at five. In about two years, Club Med ex­pects that the topthree spots will shuf­fle, with China com­ing af­ter France and be­fore the US, ac­cord­ing to Mufraggi.

“The mar­ket in Europe is flat but not grow­ing as it used to. We see real growth com­ing from China and from Brazil, where we also have foothold,” he said.

The Chi­nese have long en­joyed trav­el­ing in groups and will even­tu­ally be­gin to tai­lor their travel itin­er­ar­ies to make their trips unique to the trav­eler, but at the mo­ment, the all-in­clu­sive style of trav­el­ing is a “great way for the [Chi­nese] mar­ket to de­velop it­self,” Mufraggi said.

“When we see lots of stud­ies, [we see that] many of our clients don’t speak other lan­guages out­side of Chi­nese and for them, the all-in­clu­sive con­cept is re­ally well done be­cause the trans­port is or­ga­nized, the trans­fer is or­ga­nized,” he said.

Chi­nese trav­el­ers have dif­fer­ent ex­pec­ta­tions than those from Europe, Mufraggi said, want­ing to ex­pe­ri­ence as many things as pos­si­ble, cram­ming their sched­ules with sight­see­ing, shop­ping and other ac­tiv­i­ties.

“I think people from China want to test [out] as much as they can. They don’t have that many hol­i­days, so it’s a big in­vest­ment for them and they ex­pect to do so many things. That’s why the all-in­clu­sive is great be­cause it of­fers them all that pos­si­bil­ity,” he said.

Chi­nese cus­tomers are the No 1 vis­i­tors to Club Med’s re­sort prop­er­ties at Kani on the Mal­dives Is­land, Phuket in Thai­land, and Al­bion on Mau­ri­tius Is­land.

Now Club Med is pri­mar­ily tar­get­ing the top 2 per­cent of China’s wealth­i­est, es­pe­cially those with fam­i­lies, de­vot­ing train­ing re­sources to teach staff how to take care of Chi­nese chil­dren. Club Med staff work­ing at prop­er­ties that see a big num­ber of Chi­nese cus­tomers are also learn­ing ba­sic phrases and words in Chi­nese, as well as of­fer­ing Chi­nese food op­tions.

“[There are] fam­i­lies with 3-year-olds or 5-year-olds, so we also need to be able to speak the lan­guages, and also be care­ful be­cause ed­u­ca­tion and the cul­ture of tak­ing care of kids in all the coun­tries around the world is very dif­fer­ent,” Mufraggi said. “So not only are we staffed [with people who] speak the lan­guage, we need all our staff to be trained on all the dif­fer­ent cul­tures.”

PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Club Med opened its lat­est re­sort on China’s Dong’ao Is­lands, hop­ing that the Chi­nese will be its sec­ond-big­gest con­sumer base by 2015, be­hind the French.

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