Having recently returned from the opening of Club Med Val Thorens Sensations, PAX had the opportunity to identify the strengths of Club Med’s ski offerings for Canadian travellers from different points of view and learn what remains to be done to increase the recognition of the company’s expertise in mountain stays.
For Carolyne Doyon, Vice President of Club Med Canada, the marketing of Club Med ski packages since 2011 in Canada, particularly in Quebec, is an important focus for the company.
"We wanted to offer our customers alternatives to our villages in the south, a way to differentiate ourselves by the product. The base of skiers in Canada is important, so we decided to launch our offerings in this market,” she told PAX.
The biggest challenge is the education component of travel; although the sale of packages to Club Med’s mountain resorts have increased by 20 per cent in North America, Doyon said that “there are still advisors who do not know, or don’t think about, that our portfolio also includes ski stays.
"Yet, our offers are competitive,” she continued. “We offer all inclusive packages including flights, transfers, passes and ski lessons, food ... In the end, our packages are often cheaper in the Alps than during a stay in the Rockies,” she said, also emphasizing the quality of the service offered by the resort, including the partnership with Rossignol for the material or for ESF ski lessons.
Christophe Serrano, Travel Manager at Voyages En Direct, said the Club Med ski product is an excellent choice for skiers looking for new places to hit the slopes.
"I started my research by studying customer needs,” said Serrano. “For a controlled budget, I suggest my clients go to Europe, with all-inclusive and quality services.”
And selling Club Med is a good option for the agent. "Beyond the commissions, there is a 99 per cent chance of having a positive customer feedback after returning from a trip to the mountains with Club Med. This will allow us to retain clients, because a satisfied customer will come back,” said Serrano.
The official opening of Club Med Val Thorens will take place on Dec. 14. However, there was already one traveller during our stay. Steffanie Gregoire won a contest through Facebook which invited members to vote on different aspects of the new resort, including its name and activities.
"The ski area is amazing,” she said. “To ski on 600 km of slopes provides a feeling of exceptional freedom. The all inclusive formula is advantageous compared to a trip to Whistler where you have to go to a restaurant to eat. I really recommend skiing Club Med for anyone who wants a unique experience in the mountains without having to worry about anything," said Steffanie.
Having started marketing its ski packages in Quebec through partnerships with Sportvac and Gendron, Maryne Kaysen, director of marketing and communications for Club Med Canada explained that the strategy was extended to top sellers of Club Med.
Since 2011, Alpine ski products are experiencing a strong growth in Canada (increasing by 27 per cent in 2014 compared to 2013). Kaysen said this is due to attractive prices and a better product knowledge through travel agents.
"By combining Air Canada, we are able to get the best fares and create packages to Val Thorens for $2,559," said Maryne.
"We will continue to focus on distribution through agencies. We have implemented a variety of support tools such as webinars or training and we also rely heavily on familiarization trips – one to Valmorel last March yielded concrete results in sales."