All-inclusive holidays rising steadily
On the sidelines of the opening of Club Med Magna Marbella in Spain, TTN spoke to Rabeea Ansari, Managing Director, Southern Europe, Turkey and Emerging Markets for Club Med.
Here’s an excerpt of our talk:
Tell us why you think Club Med Magna Marbella will be a hot favourite with our market?
We can already see that Marbella is a success as our occupancy levels are at 85 to 90 per cent, which shows that there is a great demand not only for Club Med but for the destination as well. On top of this, compared to other vacation options in Marbella, we are currently the only all-inclusive premium resort, which gives us a very singular position in the market.
Andalucía and Marbella have a very strong connection with the Middle East. The market has been visiting often – we see this from the number of flights and connections from Dubai and the rest of the Middle East.
Together with our representative dnata Representation Services we are investing heavily in the Middle East. We see no reason why Club Med shouldn’t be a good option for family, friends and whoever wants to be part of a unique experience.
What does your development pipeline look like?
The pandemic did not stop Club Med from continuing with its expansion plans. Club Med came out of the crisis stronger than ever. Over all the regions, we see that Club Med is the choice for leisure travel and for families, which gives some reassurances of our business model and the product of Club Med.
Even during the pandemic, we had five new resort opening. Club Med Seychelles, an Exclusive Collection Resort for families; Club Med La Rosière – a new ski destination in the French/Italian Alps; Club Med Quebéc Charlevoix, our first resort in Canada and the second mountain resort to be open all four seasons; Club Med Lijiang, our new jewel in the crown of China’s premium all-inclusive holiday experience; and Club Med Joview Tangshan, an innovative concept for families.
Club Med pursues its development in China. In addition to the seven current resorts, 8 new resorts and Club Med Joyview are being designed or built in China.
By the end of this year, in time for a Christmas break, Club Med will open two properties in France: one in Tignes and the other in Val D´Isere.
Next year Club Med will open its third ski resort in Japan in Hokkaïdo and two properties in China. In 2024, openings will include a ski resort each in Italy and Utah (USA) and a seaside future flagship resort in Malaysia.
Will we see your properties in Middle East some day?
Yes, definitely – we are actively looking. It’s a question of the right fit, the right project.
We have a few elements that we look for in a new place to operate. It has be a place that can be open all year long. It has to have good connectivity and as we don’t like to build vertically, but horizontally, places with high density.
The Middle East has been and is still exciting and every year we see the Middle East as a potential opportunity and having a place of our own there is something that we are really striving for. And, of course, we look at dnata Representative Services for their input and advice.
What can you tell us about the average consumer’s post pandemic behaviour?
The consumer behaviour post pandemic was quite interesting. We saw right away the revenge travel, the sort of carpe diem behaviour.
We saw travel very much being with the family, reconnecting, making memories and wanting to do activities together. We have evolved by adapting our product, by having activities that parents and kids can do together. Also, for the kids, not only is it fun and games, but there is a learning element, for example, in one of our resorts in the mountains, the kids can learn about the cycle of rain, and that rain comes from nature and the cycle of life.
We saw this leads to a behaviour of staying more in the resorts, and some smart working, that pushed longer stays and because of these longer stays, we are looking at packages for longer stays not only for families, but couples, or people without kids who can manage their business remotely.
With dnata Representative Services as your representative, what figures do you hope to achieve in the Middle East?
We see Spain and Marbella as strong contenders for the market, but I also see the development of the ski and winter mountain aspects. We offer 16 different resorts in the Alps between Switzerland, Italy and France with lots of different levels from beginners to the most advanced.
The flight connectivity from the Middle East to some of our destinations like the Pacific and SE Asia, Maldives, Phuket and Bali are some of the obvious ones, but with dnata Representative Services, the sky is the limit!
Once you know and experience a Club Med, you will come back. In fact, statistically a client that discovers Club Med, there is a 70 per cent chance he comes back again because of satisfaction level is usually high. I think it’s imperative to get people familiar with the brand, to understand what Club Med is all about.
We have 72 resorts around the world all with totally different experiences from mountains, beach, resorts and close to cities and from China, to Canada and Brazil just to name a few, so once you know a Club Med, it’s just a matter of discovering.
In closing – dnata is one of our representatives who are growing extremely fast with us and the ambition we have together is a high ambition and to confirm this ambition – we are looking at growing 163 per cent from 2022 to 2023.
The Middle East is already important in the map of Club Med, but it is going to be very soon essential for Club Med in its whole organisation. There are only opportunities and exciting news regarding dnata Representation Services and the Middle East in general. For Club Med, we value the partners work with, we are stronger when we are working together along the way, and when our partners grow, we grow.
* As told to Kim Thomson