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Wednesday, 13 November, 2019, 10 : 50 AM [IST]

‘Experiential holiday is a reality now’

As outbound travel from India has been registering double digit growth in the last few years, the market has become strategically important for us, says Vijay Sharma, General Manager-South East Asia, Club Med, in an interview with Prasenjit Chakraborty.

Q Holidays should be easy and carefree from the moment somebody leaves home. How do you address this?
In today's busy world, we believe that holidays are a great way for families to spend quality time with each other. With the aim of offering most relaxing and exciting holiday experience, Club Med's premium all-inclusive holidays offer unlimited activities, meal options and entertainment that are absolute value for money. From transfers, sports and activities, gourmet cuisine and premium spirits, child-care facilities to entertainment and parties, we have got everything covered, so that travellers can forget worrying about logistics on the trip.

Q Recently, Club Med split APAC operations into two business units APAC Markets and APAC Resorts. What are the reasons behind it?
As you know countries like Singapore, China, Japan, India, Australia, fall in the APAC region. And our staff members in these countries sell our properties in Asia as well as globally. However, our overall focus is always on customised schemes which we promise our guests. But in the changing business dynamics, Sales & Marketing has to play a very specific role unlike yester years. Similarly, the area of operation is also becoming more and more complex especially against the backdrop when competitors are offering the same-all inclusiveness packages to customers. So, keeping this in mind, we decided to create two verticals. One vertical specialises on the commercial aspect which is called APAC Markets and the other one looks after operations and customer experience, which is called APAC Resorts. The APAC Resorts team ensures that customer experience is delivered and taken care of in line with our core principles.

Q Are these two verticals created specifically for the Asia Pacific region?
No, this is a global initiative. We have already implemented this in Europe, which has yielded very good results. So, we are replicating the plan in Asia.

Q How important is the Indian market for overall business of Club Med?
One can't just ignore the Indian market. India is amongst the very few markets in the world which has been registering double digit growth for outbound travel. Since outbound

travel has been on a healthy growth path from India, the market becomes strategically important. We have been present in India for almost 10 years. However, we don't have any property in India so far. Despite this, we have been growing quite successfully in destinations like Maldives. In fact, Club Med is one of the most sold hotel brand in Maldives. Hence, we already have captive business in India. But now, we want to grow beyond Maldives and are focusing on Bali, Phuket, Bintan, etc. which are also popular destinations for Indians. India is a part of our emerging countries cluster (India, Indonesia, Thailand), and we are investing strategically in these markets.

Q Enumerate on the latest travel trends for Indian travellers?
Indians have been travelling outbound for the last 30 years which is not new. What is happening now is the change of outlook for outbound travel. Earlier, for Indian travellers, exploration of a destination was the main focus, but now it is more about unique experiences. Experiential holiday is the reality now and people

are selecting a destination based on what that particular destination can provide in terms of experience.

Q What is your target segment in India?
Located in some of the world's most beautiful countries, a holiday with Club Med is ideal for couples, families with children. Therefore, we are targeting urban families from all regions. Club Med has introduced the 'Amazing Family' program that offers families an opportunity to relax, spend quality time together and indulge in exciting activities that will bring home more than just memories. Hence we say that Club Med is not just a regular hotel; it is a complete holiday package that offers exciting and unlimited experiences.

We believe that when a guest arrives at our resort he or she comes to relax and would explore Club Med way of holiday, and we are looking for families who will appreciate this concept. Our main target cities in India are Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru. However, a big chunk of our business also comes from Ahmedabad.

Q Could you tell us more about your Kids Club?
A child is as important as an adult, hence key touch points of the hotel have been rethought at the scale of kids, to make sure they feel comfortable. We have a day-long tailor-made program for kids that allow adults to leave their children in our Kids Club and enjoy their vacation while kids have their own holiday which is full of fun-filled activities. Kids and teenagers can make new friends and partake in exciting outdoor adventures and various programs that are designed for children between 3-17 years keeping in mind their needs and interests. Also, to ensure their well-being and safety, all children are accompanied by our experienced in-house team.
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