Why Xavier Mufraggi cant wait for agents to start selling Club Med

first_imgWhy Xavier Mufraggi can’t wait for agents to start selling Club Med Le Massif This story originally ran in the November 9th, 2017 issue of Travelweek magazine. To get Travelweek delivered to your agency for free, subscribe here. TORONTO — For travel agents, who generate a solid majority of Club Med’s bookings, according to Club Med North America’s President and CEO, Xavier Mufraggi, the new $120 million Club Med Le Massif in Charlevoix, Quebec will be a boon to anyone looking to break into the ski market, or to maximize their earnings on existing ski clientele.The arrival of the Quebec resort will be a shot in the arm for Canada’s ski industry too, where growth has been relatively flat for several years.Just like at its beach resorts, Club Med, the all-inclusive pioneer, includes everything in its ski vacations in one commissionable price, from flights and accommodation to ski passes, transfers and even lessons.Club Med already has more than 20 all-inclusive mountain hotels and resorts, dominated by its Alps product in France, Italy and Switzerland and shored up with additional ski properties in Japan and China. Already Club Med’s ski resort room count exceeds 6,000 rooms. And that’s before the construction of the Quebec property, which will bring in another 300 rooms, including 4-Trident Club and Deluxe-level rooms with a 5-Trident luxury space. Shovels will be in the ground next year and the resort is expected to open by the end of 2020, says Mufraggi.Worldwide, between its beach and ski resorts, Club Med now operates more than 70 resorts. More than 40,000 Canadians stay at a Club Med resort every year, and most book through travel agents.Why Charlevoix, and why now? Club Med has had its eye on Canada for many years and was just waiting for the right opportunity, says Mufraggi.“One-third of our capacity is ski,” he said in an interview with Travelweek. “Our very first Club Med opened in 1950. Our first ski resort opened in 1957. We’ve been in the ski business for a very long time.”It turns out last week’s Club Med Le Massif announcement was one of many to come, and the company is very much focused on North America. Says Mufraggi: “We plan to open one to two ski resorts per year for the next few years. North America accounts for 22% of ski business worldwide. And we have zero ski resorts in North America. It didn’t make sense.”The Quebec ski resort, although a first in Canada for Club Med, represents a return to the North American ski market for the company, following on the heels of properties including Club Med Crested Butte in Colorado which was taken over by new owners in 2006.In searching for the right destination for its first ski resort in Canada, Club Med had its priorities: “We wanted great snow quality, we wanted a major airport nearby, and we wanted a place that wasn’t too well known yet.”More news:  Apply now for AQSC’s agent cruise ratesClub Med, the all-inclusive trailblazer, likes to be the first in destinations too. Back in the early 1970s, Cancun, Mexico was just a blueprint on the drawing board. When the development was completed in 1974, Club Med was one of the first major hotel companies to hit the strip, opening Club Med Yucatan in 1976 (and the rest is history).The Quebec property is being positioned as a year-round resort, just about, open 300 or so days a year. “It’s one hour from Quebec City. It’s 40 minutes from some of the best whale-watching in the country. It’s not just a ski resort. It’s a Quebec experience resort.”Mufraggi adds that ski clients, especially the younger generation, want a mountain experience that may or may not include a whole lot of actual skiing, as it turns out. “They want to ski. But the reality is that they ski only about two hours a day” on ski holidays, he says. The European ski scene excels at extending the après-ski vibe around the clock and that’s something the Quebec development will be looking to emulate.Club Med’s sales out of the Canadian market, to all of its resorts worldwide, are up 40% over the past five years. Not only that, but the company’s ski business out of Canada (to its Alps resorts) is up 50% so far in 2017. “Our top three sellers out of Canada are first, Punta Cana, then Cancun, and then ski,” says Mufraggi.One of the biggest changes in the Canadian market is the growth in corporate and MICE bookings to Club Med resorts. “Our corporate and MICE business out of Canada has tripled in the last six years,” he says.Mufraggi says he expects the new Quebec resort will draw a 75:25 ratio of leisure guests to corporate guests, with a mix of 60% North Americans in the winter (and 40% international), and the reverse in the summer.Selling Club Med is an extremely attractive and valuable proposition for travel agents, he adds. “The loyalty [of Club Med clients] is extremely high,” he says. “Get them once and you get them forever.”Senior travel consultant Debbie Stellinga with The Travel Agent Next Door says Club Med Le Massif will interest her ski clients, saying that while ski vacations are a small percentage of her bookings, she’s seeing more interest year-over-year for destination ski trips. Price will be a big factor though. “I like the concept of the all-inclusive ski vacation and so do my clients,” says Stellinga. “Skiers tend to prep their own meals. Club Med takes the hassle out of prepping meals … no grocery shopping required. I think an all-inclusive resort in Quebec is a brilliant idea, however, I am interested to see if it will be priced right.”More news:  Save the dates! Goway’s Africa Roadshow is backClub Med’s value proposition, besides the all-inclusive angle, includes the fact that guests ages 4 and younger are free, says Mufraggi. That’s true for its ski resorts as well as its beach resorts. “It’s an extremely attractive and valuable product and market for travel agents,” he says, adding the loyalty of Club Med clients is “extremely high. Get them once and you get them forever.”Merit Travel is also reporting a consistent year-over-year increase in its ski sales. Club Med Le Massif will bring a new and fresh concept to this market, says Allison Patriquin, Manager, Product Development and Marketing for Merit Golf & Ski Vacations. “This is a first for Canada. The ski all-inclusive is unknown here.”Canadians are travelling in their country like never before for a variety of reasons, says Patriquin. There’s the dollar, of course, plus safety, friendliness, “amazing powder mountains and exquisite resorts,” she says.Paul Marner, Merit’s Director, New Business Development, says Club Med’s strong brand identity and reputation for value will enhance this destination already recognized “for snow galore”.Paul Pinchbeck, President & CEO of the Canadian Ski Council, says Club Med Le Massif is a promising development for the Canadian ski industry, which counts some 18.4 million skier visits annually (only 4 million of those are international). After several years of flat growth, the Canadian ski scene has rebounded strongly, bouncing back from a few years of snow droughts.Club Med Le Massif will help energize the domestic product, says Pinchbeck. “We’re seeing a generation of skiers who demand more sophistication from their ski experience. And anything that elevates the Canadian ski experience to the world is a positive.”This story originally ran in the November 9th, 2017 issue of Travelweek magazine. To get Travelweek delivered to your agency for free, subscribe here. About Latest Posts Kathryn FolliottEditor at TravelweekKathryn is Editor at Travelweek and has worked for the company since 1995. She has travelled to more than 50 countries and counts Hong Kong, Jerusalem, the Swiss Alps and the Galapagos Islands among her favourite destinations. Latest posts by Kathryn Folliott (see all) “They need to go where the bucks are”: Agents on ACTA partnership – April 18, 2019 As the cost of doing business climbs, host agencies, retail groups say they have options – April 4, 2019 As of 2021 Europe-bound clients will need to apply online for a visa waiver and pay a fee – April 3, 2019 Tags: Club Med, Feature Story, Quebec, Ski Resorts Posted by Kathryn Folliott Share << Previous PostNext Post >> Friday, November 17, 2017 last_img

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