During our recent trip to Club Med Bali, Gaya Travel Magazine had the opportunity to interview Club Med top management comprising Club Med Chairman & CEO Henri Giscard d’Estaing and Club Med CEO for East and South Asia Pacific (ESAP) Xavier Desaulles.
The following are what these charismatic individuals have to say about Club Med…
Mr. Henri Giscard d’Estaing
Club Med is well known for its uniqueness because it offers activities that suit each family member, including grandparents. As a result, the entire family can have holiday together in one secure and safe location. No doubt, Club Med intends to create destinations that help to strengthen bonds among families.
All Club Med properties have their own different strengths, offering different experiences. If I want to relax, I go to the Albion in Mauritius; if I want to be active, then Bali is ideal – it all depends on the mood and requirements. People want change, so the differing experiences provided by various Club Med properties in Asia and around the world meet people’s expectations in wanting to savour different experiences during their holiday.
Among Club Med properties that are great for families are Phuket, Cherating and Bali – these properties are ideal for young families with babies since they are equipped with facilities catering to children from as young as four months up to 17 years old.
Besides developing unique family-centric holiday destinations, Club Med has also started to move up the value chain by offering luxurious upscale destination in the form of Finolhu Villas in the Maldives, which is Club Med’s first step into exclusivity to serve the high-end clientele. However, despite that strategic move, Club Med remains true to its reputation as the provider of premium all-inclusive resort for families.
Being in the tourism and hospitality business, Club Med as a global company certainly faces challenges, one of them is in finding exceptional locations to open new properties. When I first joined the company, I was asked many times whether there are still any more viable locations left in the world. And to be honest, I must say yes.
For example, I just returned from one location close to Geneva that will make a great Club Med mountain resort. Another one is Guilin, where Club Med just opened, surrounded by spectacular mountainous landscape. And of course, the one most recently announced is Club Med Lombok. Club Med works closely with the Indonesian Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) to develop the property in Mandalika, a beautiful area in Lombok designated to be developed along the same vein as Nusa Dua in Bali, but more ecotourism-based.
Other upcoming properties are Beidahu in China, slated for opening in November 2016; one new resort in the Alps every year since Club Med is already the top-of-mind brand for family ski holidays; and Club Med Lake Paradise near Sao Paulo, Brazil, which will open in December 2016.
When it comes to opening a new Club Med property, the main factors that we look for are strategic and accessible location; natural beauty; and the size of at least 15 hectares for Club Med to hold many activities and for guests to have space to relax.
Another challenge is to constantly invent and re-invent so that we remain as a pioneer. One aspect that help Club Med maintain its pole position is through the adoption of digital technology to facilitate guests’ experiences. For instance, besides creating online systems to engage and transact with the public, Club Med also develops mobile apps for guests to not only book rooms but also skiing gear and ski classes, bringing convenience right to the guests’ fingertips.
Throughout the years, despite global inflation, Club Med has institutionalised systems and ways to efficiently control costs. We are able to measure, predict and control the quantities of consumption without sacrificing on quality. We have been doing this for a long time and will continue to do so to make sure that we essentially remain as a value-for-money family-centric holiday destination.
Mr. Xavier Desaulles
The Malaysian market is important because Cherating is the first Club Med to open in Asia. Interestingly, Cherating remains special among Club Med’s Gentil Organisateurs (G.O.s) because of its unique ambience and lush tropical environment.
Club Med’s premium all-inclusive offerings are in sync with the expectations of travellers, especially among Malaysian families because they seek value-for-money experiences. Malaysia is also strategic because it has been Club Med’s fastest growing market in the past three years in Asia.
As such, Club Med intends to target more Malaysian families to visit not just Cherating but also Bali and the Maldives. Malaysia also has natural assets that trigger Club Med’s interest towards exploring possibilities of opening new properties within the country, perhaps in Langkawi or Kota Kinabalu.
The opening of Club Med Lombok in Mandalika attests to Club Med’s confidence towards Indonesia’s growing popularity as magnet for tourism. In line with its pioneering spirit, Club Med is the first few international chains to open in the area, similar to how it assisted in the development of the Nusa Dua area in Bali. Lombok’s charm lies in its still rural and raw appeal, which reminds travellers of Bali thirty years ago.
In Asia, the challenge for Club Med is in its operations. Asians generally take shorter vacations like two to four days, compared to Europeans who would take at least the whole one week off. As such, more resources are required to turn over the rooms since there would be sizeable departures and check-ins every day.
Another challenge is talent retention – recruiting and retaining the right G.O.s in Asia are crucial. When we select G.O.s, Club Med assesses their attitude, openness towards others, kindness, their activeness, and willingness to interact with others. Once we get to know their character, we then concentrate on their skills or know-how, which can be taught.
Generally, Club Med G.O.s are assigned to a specific Club Med property for six to 12 months, then they will move to other properties. That kind of arrangement makes these G.O.s cognisant and sensitive towards cultural influences, therefore they are well equipped when attending to Club Med’s guests from various backgrounds. It also suggests that Club Med is willing to put considerable investment in developing their own talent’s growth and development because these G.O.s are important to the business.
To ensure that the public knows more about Club Med, the group is now aggressively engaging and communicating with the public, especially among the uninitiated. The meaning of premium all-inclusive is not only limited to rooms and meals, but also encompasses transfers, facilities, instructors, activities and sports, among others. Club Med emphasises on the quality of its offerings and breadth of activities so that the brand remains as the best choice for family holiday destination.