Wednesday, March 7, 2012

How Can French E-travel Get a 100% Growth Rate Per Year?

Geoffroy de Becdelievre, CEO of, has issued the following statement:
The Thomas Cook group (European leader) lost 95% of its trading value at the end of 2011 and Nouvelles Frontieres (the French subsidiary of the TUI group) was saved from bankruptcy at the last moment. Who will be next? Are these events foreshadowing the elimination of traditional tour operators in France?

On the other hand, some companies have exceptional triple-digit growth every year. Why is that, and what are their strategies?
Two underlying trends are slowly restructuring the market. The first trend has to do with bespoke travel: sales of individual "a la carte or bespoke" trips have gone up by 10 to 15% per year, while group tours are now stagnating. The second trend is the boom of the e-tourism market, with an average yearly growth between 15 and 20%.

Confronted with these market developments, stakeholders in this industry must immediately adapt their business models to respond to both these customer expectations, and to avoid the slow, inevitable death of their business.

How can "bespoke" and Internet go together since one is associated with a traditional process and the other with an industrial, technological process?

Some stakeholders have successfully combined these processes to "semi-industrialize a traditional profession" by rethinking their business model. Four elements allowed them to take major market shares from their competitors:

Disintermediation - a sine qua non condition
Customers are attracted by bespoke travel, which encourages operators to offer travel deals as "a la carte" modules. However, offline stakeholders in the tourism market are mainly distributed between producers - tour operators who control the product - and agencies - the retailers or distributors - who have access to the customer. Confronted with offline operators, certain online stakeholders who have both these roles have fared well and overtaken traditional stakeholders.

The customer's new role, the author of his/her trip
The rich, diversified content available on the Internet encourages the customer to become the co-designer of his/her trip. However, because of this wealth of information, qualified expertise and quality advice (proposed by online stakeholders) are necessary for this trip to be successful.

"On-off-on" for truly customized advice - essential in France!
Internet allows operators to establish themselves while recruiting targeted customers on the web. However, once this connection has been created, the bespoke travel designer must get in touch with the prospect - by appointment, telephone or email - in order to provide the customer with high-quality and truly customized advice. This is an essential condition for high-quality bespoke travel. The last step of the purchase - the confirmation and payment - takes place online, as for other e-commerce products. This rapid method has now become quite common.

Direct contact with experts per country
The Internet allows customers to contact experts of the country directly, regardless of the customer's country of residence. Contrary to physical agencies where there are 2 or 3 salespeople who can only offer a general appreciation of the trips they are selling, online agencies can offer specialized advisors for specific areas and make sure that these experts are available for all their customers. E-operators are thus able to offer strong, readily available expertise of the desired destination.
Planetveo, Designing bespoke travel packages