On June 10, 2021, I received, for the 2nd live on our Instagram account, Armelle Solelhac, CEO of the agency SWiTCH. I invite you to discover below the transcript of our exchanges and at the end of it the complete video (beginning of the live at 3 minutes 38).
Hello everyone, thank you for not running to the terraces and give us a little time because I thought it was perhaps not the ideal timing but it does not matter. We welcome Armelle Solelhac, thank you for participating in this live.
Before I start I would just like to make a little introduction to explain why I met Armelle. It was via LinkedIn at the beginning of the year because she made a great TedX conference called "How tourism will save the world". If you don't know her, I invite you to watch it. And after that I entered HEC and I was told to create a board as I was all alone to carry the project and I immediately thought of Armelle because her performance had really impressed me and so I took my courage in both hands and I sent an email and she accepted. I'm really lucky and so in addition to the meetings, she dedicates me some time and it's really nice of her. So I'm very happy to have her here today to present this study she did on tourism in 2030.
Ethik Hotels (EH) Thank you for being here and thank you to you for being here too and before going any further I will let her introduce herself to you
Armelle Solelhac (AS) Thank you very much for this introduction and for your invitation. I was lucky enough to finish my law studies by doing a world tour of ski resorts, so I visited and skied in 280 resorts in 13 countries on five continents for almost two years. I wanted to work in the tourism sector and indoor sports brands and that's why I created switch which is an agency specialized in prospective studies and marketing strategy. Prospective studies are what allow us to make forecasts for the future. I make a distinction between forecasts and predictions because forecasts are based on serious data, scientific principles and methods. The predictions can be a little more random we'll say and then finally marketing I work especially on the brand so we work as well for tourist offices of communities of communes on the scale of states and regions of departments and also we work for hotel groups. That's everything related to tourism and for sports brands we work with distributors such as Intersport for example, the Decathlon group and we also work for most of the brands that you can wear when you go skiing or even surfing but also boating.
EH Okay, before we get into the specifics, if you have any questions, you can ask them in the chat room, and we'll answer them either as we go along or at the end, so we'll see how it goes, because last time I said we were going to answer at the end, but in fact the timing was right at the end, so we won't forget the questions. It's nice to continue the live session from the last meeting because we really talked about concrete things for this year last time and now we're projecting ourselves to 2030 because it's time to reinvent ourselves and finally, ten years in an entrepreneur's life is quite fast so there are still things to put in place and it's good to anticipate them to be ahead of the game and to gain time on the others.
EH Armelle is going to present us her prospective study that she realized will be the tourism in 2030 and before that, can you tell us where you found all the data? How did you do it before going into the concrete
AS Yes I can, so I have about 900 sources of information. The idea is that when you do this kind of work, you should not have a French vision, or at least I try not to have a French vision. And in fact there is a cultural dimension which is extremely important in the perception of the world and the perception of the direction in which our world and our society go. It was important not to focus only on what happens in France except to make a study only on the perimeter of France but it was not my objective and for information the presentation that I make there is a support which is downloadable free of charge on the penultimate page there is a very large part of the souces (more than forty) knowing that in fact on certain links are hidden sometimes hundreds of links (laughs).
EH I reassure you before there are extremely interesting things there are not things hidden in the slides of before and I invite you to download it because it is very rich. So, in this study you have found 8 trends in the tourism of tomorrow.
The idea would be that you present them to us so that each one can know them, even on a personal basis if we recognize ourselves there because it is interesting we are at the same time travelers at the same time Professionals and then explain us each tendency that we prepare ourselves
AS As a preamble, what I wanted to say is that the pandemic did not create problems in the tourism sector, it revealed them. We must not be mistaken on this point and in fact this world crisis was above all a catalyst for weak signals that were there, more or less expressed, and as a result, what were just weak signals became major trends, so it just accelerated the timing of this rise in power of these weak signals towards trends and then the year I had considered that there was a before and after crisis of the Covid. Well, we have to admit that in fact it's not quite that and that it's more like a before and after health crisis in the plural because in fact we realize when we look at a certain number of studies related to the impacts of global warming that in reality it's the beginning of a rather important pandemic series and well, it was a trial run. That's a bit of a black picture that has been quite violent in the tourism industry and according to the World Tourism Organization, we should be back to 2019 levels by 2023. So we have two and a half years left and we are closer to the end than the beginning.
EH it is necessary to hold because before 2019 there were other years less successful and it still worked
AS Indeed, so I'll skip the figures because they are in the studies and it's not necessarily what's most amusing, but I'm going to present these trends to you, knowing that I asked myself two questions when I studied all these sources:
- The first one: how can we reconcile the anxiety of the clientele around the contraction of the disease, whether it is COVID or other diseases, with their need to relax because in normal times we already need to relax and a year and a half of confinement to the repetition of particularly anxiety-provoking announcements with a coming and going in the announcements which was with many contradictions, so it becomes very complicated to foresee and when we cannot foresee even in the short term, well, it puts everyone under tension
- The second question was how in fact the feeling of rest and well-being can blossom among visitors, among tourists in places where the irritants are linked to constraints in a general way and to sanitary constraints in particular. How can we succeed in flourishing in this context? And finally, how will the visitors behave? What do they want? What do they need in the next nine years?
The first trend is what I call the transition from mass tourism to space tourism.
EH Before you move forward isn't it ranked in order of importance?
AS No they are listed in order of arrival, in chronological order. And this one I identify them in 2016 when I did my 2nd world tour of resorts. It really struck me actually it was a weak signal at the time and now it's really strong. The underlying issue is the question of over-tourism and I am clearly not happy about the consequences of this trend. I want to make it clear that this is not an opinion poll. I'm not presenting my personal opinions on this study, I'm really presenting the results of factual data analysis and if I could have avoided this trend it would have made me happy. The idea that physical space tourism is a niche tourism reserved for a financial elite doesn't amuse me at all and frankly it doesn't please me.
So this physical tourism of spaces is linked to a search for places that are preserved, are little frequented with a quality of service that is really maximum and a human relationship that is very strong and a contrario we have a mass e tourism that can be practiced in a virtual way so immobile or almost immobile either for people and / or I was going to say for people who want to prepare their trip or extend their experience of travel to see sites visited, sites that they could not visit during their trip, that they simply do not have the opportunity to visit or to see them in a different way from their trip. For example, Unesco has digitized all of the classified sites
EH Yes, I heard that when you talked about it in François' podcast, I was running and I said to myself I have to look at it, it's amazing information and it must be really great and I didn't take any time.
AS It's great, I made the virtual visit of the ruins of Pompeii. You can get as close as 1 cm from the ground and then go several dozen meters high. Even if you visit Pompeii, in general you don't lie down on the ground to look at it and you don't fly up to several tens of meters. So it's a great experience.
EH Afterwards, the taste of the Naples pizza is missing (laughs)
AS There are no smells either (laughs). But depending on the experience that is proposed with virtual reality glasses, you can have the sound as well as the image. For the moment we don't have the smells but we can have some sensation. Clearly the quality of service is limited, the human relationship is really non-existent. That said, we also see virtual visits of museums where in fact we have an appointment with a guide and the guide makes the visit and we can ask him lots of questions. There too you can get very close to the works or on the contrary you can move away. There is an interaction with the group during the visit so it can be really nice and then what is sure is that you can look at works like the Mona Lisa for example without having to wait for your turn and seeing everyone with his phone.
EH Are the holidaymakers ready for this yet ? How is it received we already know ?
AS The returns that we have are especially on two times in fact it is especially on the before trip to prepare its trip and possibly to make the impasse on certain sites by saying to itself we are going to visit secondary sites and of the blow to have less world but we will have nevertheless seen the must it the must do.
EH I join you there because it is true that I was in Peru you go to see Machu Picchu and in fact visited it we raised another site which is called Pisac. We were all alone, I would say that it was exceptional I adored and finally I keep a better memory of it than Machu Picchu even if I am happy to have seen it and I wonder if we had had the virtual reality that would not have effectively a solution to disengage big sites
AS It is also interesting for other applications within the framework of the reservation to be able to go to visit a hotel or to choose for example precisely his hotel room. There are customers for whom it is very important to choose their hotel room very precisely: There are people who love surprises, there are some who hate it and so the whole virtual part allows you to prepare your trip in a very interesting way and then after the trip it allows you to relive the experience you had, the smells you had, the sound, you had the whole sensory part and it can allow you to deepen a visit that has already been done and we see that there are quite a few visitors who will relive their travel experiences in this way.
We also see that many visitors will relive their travel experiences in this way. We also see people who will live virtual experiences for proposals for which they do not want to make the effort or feel capable. For example, Saint Gervais has digitized the entire ascent of Mont Blanc. I had the opportunity to do it virtually, but I'm not interested in walking in the mountains. I ski a lot but I hate walking. On the other hand, I have always wanted to climb Mont Blanc because there is something mythical about it. And the reality is that the Mont Blanc is the highway, that is to say that you can have sometimes several thousands of people who try to climb the Mont Blanc in the same day, so you can say that the great spaces, the peace, the open air... The experience is a little bit spoiled. This scan was made during the golden hour so the images are absolutely sublime, there is nobody on the images and somehow it allows you to really live the experience without having to undergo the climb in the mountains. It's not for everyone, once again there is no one size fits all solution. There are people who like it and others who don't like it. I am not judging, I am simply noting a trend and a desire for a certain number of practitioners. What is interesting to see is that during the successive confinements, well, all these virtual visits, they have had a phenomenal success and that is very interesting.
EH It shows that people needed culture and all that in order to take their minds off things, so it can also be an alternative, not to be forgotten, it can be a complement and it can be something to take into account and not to be forgotten.
AS The next trend is what I call a frictionless world, it's really the idea of a global travel experience that is as fluid as possible. There's no break in the load. Sometimes in tourism we talk about a seamless experience and this is in reference to the fact that 64% of consumers think that the customer experience is more important than the price. In fact we see that people are willing to pay a lot more to have a really qualitative tourist experience. We also have a figure that came out recently that says that 51% of customers will no longer go to a destination or use a service from a tourism brand after a single negative experience. This is more than half of consumers and I think that for tourism professionals this is not insignificant
EH It's the pressure, it's the cutter
AS The competition is absolutely terrible, it's tough, we no longer have the right to make a mistake and if there is a mistake we have to be able to recover it immediately, either by making a commercial gesture, but I'm not a big fan of this approach, I prefer to offer an additional service. I think that in terms of experience it's always better, it shows that you're able to correct and it also shows that you shouldn't degrade the price of a tourist experience whatever it is.
EH and then it leaves a memory while giving money back there is nothing after. If the experience behind, I think of a massage because that's what would please me but this kind of things not the money because we end up forgetting. The Tandem Hotel in Strasbourg completely agrees with you.
AS Don't lower your price and your margin, on the other hand, offering a little more is always better for your customer and so of course on this seamless experience without friction and well this is really the idea that we must succeed, and this is a collective challenge of any industry, it is not each one alone that will succeed, it is really collectively, We have to succeed in building an experience from the reservation to the return home, but even afterwards, so that these breaks in the load are erased, they are as painless as possible, and this can only be done by interweaving the services and the different phases of the trip.
I like the example of Hyperloop stations because we hear a lot about Hyperloop, transpod transport, journeys in what is called the last 100 kilometers by drone, etc. I think it's quite brilliant when we work on the perspectives. All this is very good but if in fact the drone station, the airfield ehang it is not perfectly connected with the arrival station of the Hyperloop and not in fact this rupture it will take place anyway and the subject there is finally we know how to move important masses at very high speed. It's the principle of the airplane, we put 300 people in a box and then we transport it, we make them travel halfway around the world in 10 hours, it's still very fast, but on the other hand, we didn't manage the last 100 kilometers very well, and even less well the last five kilometers
EH This is already a recurring problem with the SNCF
AS And so the subject is there to reduce the irritants, to manage the transport of luggage, to manage the transport of sports equipment for those who leave to do sports adventures at the other end of the world and to succeed in treating these aspects better, on the subject of transport.
Then on the subject of life on the spot, it's the development of everything that is cashless, the idea of not having to put your hand in your pocket all the time, but to develop wristband systems, payment systems, where we can see the mobile payments that take place, and it's also on the fact of erasing irritants, working on everything that is design. That is to say, to have spaces of pure silence and then very friendly animated spaces. In fact it is very difficult to do and the subject is there. In fact, the work on sound design, especially in resorts, in seaside resorts, in ski resorts or in spaces where we have different population rhythms, with different target audiences. When you have a family with very young children or when you have young adults who want to have fun, the expectations are not the same and so you have to manage to cohabit these populations. The work on the sound design is particularly important.
And what is interesting is that since last year, an incredible number of labels have appeared to reassure and guarantee the conditions of sanitary security, to guarantee the good health of the consumers etc. And we see that there is a major stake in this subject. Labels are one thing, I think it is also important to reassure but not to be too anxiety-provoking in one's speech. I think that tourist destinations are a bit too anxious in their speech and we should succeed in erasing all that by adding more humor. Even if it's an ingredient that is particularly difficult to dose, first of all because it is not translated or not very well. Humor is in fact a benign violation of the norm and in reality a norm is what it is a reference for sharing. In fact, from one country to another we don't share the same and we don't all have the same references, that's why we laugh at Belgian jokes, but the Belgians don't.
EH It was already the subject in the last live around the health that it was necessary a clear communication and that we do not make tons either but that that is clear with the people there is found
AS Absolutely! The third trend is what I call hyper tourism. So here you are in a completely binary and almost antagonistic trend, i.e. on the one hand we have hyper-connected stays and on the other hand hyper-disconnected stays. On the hyper connection side, the experience is hyper depersonalized, hyper virtual, hyper dehumanized, completely sanitized, controlled with a quality of service that is standardized. When you put it like that, it can be scary, there are people who love it, there are people who need this quality of standardized services, it reassures them, that's how they feel good. You shouldn't judge.
EH do we know for example if there are countries of the world that are more prone to appreciate the hyper connection or countries that we could visit that are more prone to this or not at all yet?
AS Today, no, at least I haven't found anything on this subject. After that, it's also very much linked to people's lifestyles and personalities. And then the other part of this trend in hyper disconnections goes up we touch on the return to intimacy, to body care, to personal reflection, to personal development, reunion with oneself but also with one's loved ones. Obviously with nature, so we are on the tourist experience which is completely de-cenarrated, which is hyper personalized, hyper human, hyper nature, which is more and more ethical or the quality of service and more and more important and where there is also an important place for inactivity and silence, so it's really interesting to integrate it. There is an acceptance of certain hazards, i.e. if the experience is not perfect, it's not very serious. What is interesting to see is that in fact customers are not 100% hyper connected or 100% hyper disconnected. You can have a part of your stay that will be hyper disconnected in a globally connected stay or you can have in the same family unit let's say four people who will be disconnected and one person who will be totally connected who will in fact pilot the group.
EH You still have to be able to manage all that in one place.
AS Exactly, you have to be able to manage all that, you have to accept, and that's what's difficult, to have a value proposition where you assume to be hyper disconnected or on the contrary hyper connected and for those who wish to do so, to have the possibility of going from one to the other very quickly.
The fourth trend is what I call tourism everywhere and all the time, so we are touching on what is called staycation, so I discovered the term in French not long ago, it's locatourism, for those who want to speak pure French. It's for those who want to speak pure French. It's about slow tourism, that is to say slow tourism. That is to say the mix of personal time and personal visits within the framework of a business trip and it touches the workly day that is to say the fact of working a few hours during one's vacation time, on one's vacation place. So the pandemic has boosted this trend to 100 per hour and as a result, this everywhere and all the time tourism blurs the boundaries between life at home, stays where you travel and where you take your work to your vacation destination.
EH In fact, there were already sometimes no boundaries between weekdays and weekends, but now it is even more blurred between life and vacations
AS So I don't know if there are people in our audience who are as old as I am who have experienced the time when you could live without a cell phone. I've always worked with a cell phone but I remember when I was a kid my mom didn't have a cell phone and when she came home, the office was over. Everything happened in the office, she could think about it, but I mean she could have these work tools to take over a file or to be contacted. We see that there the borders are completely exploded which is not without legal problems for the employers and a problem of disconnection also for a certain number of employees.
So here we are navigating between two approaches: staycation, slow tourism and then bleisure and the workday where we have stays in staycation that are shorter, close to home, with a very low technical commitment. And in Staycation and Slow tourism we are more about disconnected experiences with very low budgets. On the other hand, bleisure and workday stays are much longer and can last up to several weeks or even several months away from home, or at least farther away from home, where the Internet connection is essential to be able to work and where budgets are much higher.
EH And so the advice is that the hotel is still a work space?
AS Absolutely I recommend that hotels have spaces with a good internet connection. And then small offices where the sound design has been worked on because when you are trying to work and next to you there is someone doing a telephone meeting with headphones, so everyone benefits from it. The sound design is not trivial. Recently I went to a hotel where there was a kind of English phone booth refurbished and on which they had put a lot of foam pads to absorb the sound. It's great both in terms of the experience and also it was really beneficial for the people who were around, they weren't irritated by the conversation inside the booth.
The fifth trend is green tourism. In fact it is the notion of a useful tourism that aims to satisfy the quest for meaning. And here we see that once again the pandemic has accelerated this trend. The idea is really that travel has more or less utilitarian objectives, whether social, environmental, solidarity, ethical or humanitarian. We see a lot of experience being developed in former theaters of war or in places where there has been a major natural disaster. For example, there is a need to rebuild housing or places where the local population has little or no means and we see more and more large chains offering the possibility to go and build a school, participate in the construction of a school or a dispensary.
I could observe it in particular one on the island of Fiji the government commits itself for any new school and new dispensary which is made like that by the tourists via either organizations or local resort to put the personnel at disposal. They can't afford the infrastructure but they can afford to pay the staff and then they can afford to provide all the working supplies, everything that makes a school run, everything that makes a hospital run. I find that really interesting. What I see is that the Outrigger Resort chain, which is a Hawaiian chain originally, has set up a system like that in Fiji that builds a lot of loyalty because they've helped build a classroom, a second classroom and then a third classroom and then the library and the computer room and so on. They also see the children who grow up year after year and who take advantage of this. So there are very strong links that are created with the children, it is extremely moving and it is a very beautiful experience. I had the chance to participate in one of these days and in my group there were two groups of families who came back and the welcome they got from the children who ran through the school to say hello to them, because they recognized them and all that touched me a lot.
So we see this solidarity tourism developing and what is interesting is that there is really a search for co-construction, co-production of the global experience with the inhabitants and therefore Outrigger Resort asks its staff to choose what type of initiative they want to put in place with their clients. So the local staff is asked and they say according to their needs on site first. First it was a school, then a dispensary, then the construction of a permaculture garden, and then other projects. I find it very interesting.
EH These are not constructions to please themselves and it's very interesting
AS It's really the people who work, the locals who decide what's most important for them and so they decide together and then it's proposed to visitors and that's very interesting. To give two statistics that I found recently there are 68% of tourists in the world who prefer to go to eco-responsible destinations and 87% of travelers who say they would prefer to travel in a way that can help reduce their impact on the environment.
EH It's all good for Ethik Hotels !
AS By the way, most of them would have liked to book in eco-responsible accommodations, because it is a Booking study. So the source is booking.com, it's a study that was conducted on 29 foreign markets with 22 thousand visitors, the level of accuracy and reliability that is quite important.
I came across something that I didn't put in my study but I wanted to share it with you as an exclusive, it's the definition of an ecotourism destination and in fact there are five criteria to qualify an ecotourism destination:
- the first is to adopt an approach to tourism development that is respectful of the environment
- the second is to propose activities of observation and interpretation of the natural environment and traditional cultural heritage
- the third criterion is to generate a tourist experience that is authentic and personalized
- the fourth criterion is to actively involve local communities in the planning and development and operation of the destination so here the example we are completely in
- the fifth criterion is to contribute equitably to the socio-economic well-being of local communities
The sixth trend is micro tourism, so at first I had classified micro adventures as any time anywhere, everywhere and all the time, and then since last year I have seen a whole bunch of things appearing around the micro of the small which really made me think that there is a place for a trend. We see that in a general way that minimalism is in the air of time: everything that is small, short, rare, unique original or even marginal seems to have a lot of success, the wind in its sails. In this sense it is the new small is beautiful. The more modular and playful we are, the more we can provoke encounters and exchanges and the more it works. I find it very interesting that we see micro-museums appearing, the tiny house, so it's not new but the frequentation and the desire to live has exploded.
EH Indeed I think of 2 Tiny Houses that are on the site in France, they are both in Normandy, they work well, people want something simple and that they reconnect to the essential.
AS We also see the emergence of micro festivals and of course micro adventures whether they are sports, cultural etc.. So here you can do a micro festival is a micro sports adventure by staying in a micro house and drinking a beer from a micro brewery and doing a micro travel and so here I think we have checked all the boxes to fuck micro tourism.
Joking aside, my seventh trend is what I call emergency tourism, which is a little less funny but still a reality. This emergency tourism covers both what we call last chance tourism which was identified by researchers near Annecy in 2010 and another tourism which is revenge tourism which appeared during the corona virus crisis at the end of the first containment and which I think from this summer to next winter will be particularly violent. It should last 2, 3 years and then it will calm down but clearly the tourism of the last chance will continue to grow.
EH So what is called last chance tourism?
AS It's the fact of visiting a link, a must i before it is irretrievably modified or it consists in observing ecosystems notably ecosystems linked to biodiversity and to the disappearance of this diversity before it is totally disappeared from the surface of the planet. So it's something quite atrocious because in fact when you go to visit this type of tourist sites or observe this biodiversity and well in fact it continues to make them disappear. So it's quite a mess.
EH And the people in the surveys, they have this vision this notion that in fact wanting to do it participates, they are aware?
They are absolutely aware of this and that's why they do it, so it's not to destroy, but they are fully aware that they are on something that is a rarity or a future rarity that accelerates this movement even more. Some people tell you, and this is also true, that the money used to pay for this experience is often reinvested by a certain number of stakeholders to protect the sites, to preserve them, and that these sites are therefore closed either temporarily or permanently. And then as for biodiversity, it's even worse, some people tell you that "there will be more polar bears in this destination, so it doesn't matter, I'll go to another destination where there will be polar bears". It's really just drain the tank until they run out and then after me the deluge.
AS Exactly the number one motivation is to observe, the number two motivation is to witness. It's rarely in a statutory way, it's much more to testify to his children and grandchildren. Well, I must admit that this leaves me particularly sceptical, it hurts my heart. Afterwards, what I find interesting are the initiatives of a certain number of countries to preserve certain sites. Unesco is doing its work of classification and imposes a certain number of barriers to entry and protection elements that allow regeneration.
And so, slowly but surely, I am coming to my eighth trend, which is regenerative tourism, which is a trend that we can all be happy about. The idea that more and more tourists want to leave the destination they have visited in a better state than when they arrived. That is extremely positive. This finally places consumers in a position of responsibility, beyond awareness, in actions and therefore I like to talk about consumer-actor and finally it also shows that there are other business models that are possible. And so regenerative tourism is clearly a qualitative approach rather than a quantitative one, so there are a few keys to regenerative tourism.
- The first is really the question of raising the awareness of both local stakeholders so that they are well aware of this observation and of course of the visitors.
- The second is the financial contribution to preserve the places that are frequented so it is with a direct arrowing: it is not a question of saying yes my global stay allows to know that there is a part which is immediately used to allow this preservation this protection, this regeneration of the nature, the species and the biodiversity
- The third key is to accept to close some spaces that were too damaged as it is the case in Thailand for example where they temporarily close a number of sites and then reopen them. This is also the case in the mountains with areas in the mountains that will be completely closed during the breeding or hibernation periods of certain species. It is the provision of means of transport that are less polluting. We are seeing more and more golf carts appearing on a certain number of sites or ways of reaching certain sites only by train, for example, or by bicycle rather than by car, big bus or liner.
- The fourth is the prohibition of bringing in animal or plant species that may be invasive in order to preserve the local eco-systems. We can see the cost of the taxifolia in the Mediterranean, which is a disaster. Then the refusal obviously to export endemic species. Precisely because we don't always know how they will adapt in their new habitat and this can be quite dramatic.
And then not in the great examples to illustrate all this, in the good practices I like very much the Icelandic oath: Each visitor who comes to Iceland must read understand and sign. I like it a lot because it is not at all moralistic and it is full of humor. It is short, it is effective, it is almost poetic.
EH They did a really great operation because in addition it is engaging, in spite of everything when you sign something there is still a kind of
AS That was my 8 trends
EH Thank you, it's very interesting. Are there any questions or comments from the people listening to us? If you find yourself in this. It's interesting to know, in any case, that you can always share it with us afterwards, so it's interesting.
It doesn't stop there, it's already a big job you've done, so congratulations. And in addition in your study you propose action plans.
AS Last year I made a big action plan with lots of examples and this year I admit I stayed in the main lines but it's not bad. I have proposed five main lines of action
- The first one is very French and it is to lobby the decision makers. I was in fact particularly shocked by what happened this winter where the mountain resorts were hyper prepared with protocols, there were hyper well thought out devices that went beyond even what the sanitary rules recommended and then overnight without any consultation the president decided almost unilaterally because I can assure you that still a week before his monster whose Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, Secretary of State, was still in discussions with the major players in the mountains and had a posture that was not at all that which was chosen in a minute in a speech of fifteen minutes. He still closed all the ski lifts in the mountains. And to give you an idea, winter represents 10 billion euros of turnover. The figures were released not long ago in the mountains of France. Only two billion euros were realized, which means a loss of 8 billion euros, 120,000 direct jobs, which means roughly 400,000 jobs that were completely lost, with very little compensation, since only the ski instructors and the ski lift companies received compensation. The restaurant owners and hoteliers got a little bit, but all the other stakeholders got absolutely nothing. Why? Well, simply because in fact the actors of tourism in France are absolutely not grouped in unions.
EH Really there is not a union of French tourism?
AS No, there are many federations, small associations, some small unions among themselves. In the mountains, for example, we have domaines skiables de France, which is the union only for ski lift operators. It would be necessary to have a union that groups together all the professions. Typically, I am a consulting agency that works with more than 60% of the turnover exclusively with tourism actors, I am not considered as an actor of the tourism sector even though I live at more than 60% of it and then incidentally my other 40 percent are the outdoor actors. So I am 100% affected by what is happening and when the president decides a little lightly, well totally lightly and completely irresponsibly, to close the ski lifts, he does not realize that in fact it affects several hundreds of thousands or even millions of people, so there is really a lack of ability to be heard by our leaders and beyond that what struck me a lot is their lack of knowledge. That is to say that including at the highest level of the state our minister does not understand how mountain resorts work, he does not understand how a seaside resort works, because he is not in the thick of things. Besides, we don't ask him but he should have people around him who know. Unfortunately they are not surrounded enough by people who are real technicians of tourism and who know what are the real impacts, who know above all what is happening. In fact, what shocked me was the lack of confidence of the government in the tourism professionals. This is particularly serious, so if we had lobbies and if we have effective lobbies in the future, our way to be heard by our governments would be much better.
- The second axis is really to redefine our business model and our offer because all these trends show that the offers we had before are no longer satisfactory for our customers and that we have to adapt quite drastically and quite quickly. The first thing to do is to make the conditions of sale as light as possible, to allow cancellations up to the last minute and to be particularly reassuring on this subject. I think that the airlines have extremely poorly managed their communication, have extremely poorly managed their files. I think that the airlines have extremely badly managed their communication, have extremely badly managed their files. All the intermediaries related to the sale of air tickets in particular that is likely to be very complicated for them. Because there is a large majority of people who have not been correctly reimbursed for their air tickets, some of them have not even had all the taxes reimbursed. That is to say, they did not fly, so the service did not take place and the taxes were not reimbursed, so it is quite serious, and on the decision of the airlines and I think that it was a very very very serious mistake on the part of the airlines because in these times they need to reassure so much if on top of that they do not do their job properly of reimbursement and well in fact for the consumer it is totally dramatic. The question of trust is essential. Without trust there is no business possible.
EH I am surprised by what you say about airlines. I've only dealt with Air France. Not on the first confinement because we were lucky, we came back three weeks before the confinement, so we did very well, but we had booked for this winter and Air France cancelled it. Well, I found that compared to usual, it was rather fluid, so we had to have some because we were hoping to leave and we won't be able to leave, but I'll tell you later when I want to get my money back, it may be more complicated, but in any case, the cancellation until then was very fluid.
AS Good for you, I didn't have a good experience with Lufthansa and American Airlines, it was rather catastrophic.
EH Maybe for once Air France stands out from the crowd
- AS The third point I said, but it's really important to communicate by reassuring without being anxiety-provoking, by creating desirability and a maximum of emotions. It's very easy to say like that but so difficult to implement, let's be honest.
EH That's why surrounding yourself with a professional communicator is also good at times. There are things that can be done alone, there are also things that sometimes, not everything because we don't necessarily have a budget, but there may be times when we can delegate something and that is important to say
AS And be careful who you delegate to, it's not necessarily the interns or trainees who are in the best position to speak correctly about your hotel establishment
- The fourth point is to get to market as soon as possible. I must say that I was amazed when I did this study, so it was in April, I collected the data for much longer but I wrote it in April and at the beginning of May I went to look for a certain number of offers for this summer and I was shocked to see that there were many hotels that did not yet have their rate policy on May 15 and therefore it is not possible for them to take reservations. It's quite funny because I had in parallel studies that said "yes but the French are not ready to preserve, but there is no reservation". Well yes, it is not possible to take reservations if there is no pricing policy and if the reservation smodules are not open. These are study results that need to be taken into consideration. But I'm deeply shocked that we don't have a year's advance notice of pricing policies for those who don't do dynamic pricing, because that's the key, and for those who do dynamic pricing, these are predictive models, so normally it shouldn't be a subject of debate.
EH It is also for this reason that we make this live so that they can prepare themselves, not necessarily on the rate but to prepare themselves, to start for tomorrow.
AS And finally, the last point is not so much a line of action, but it's really a strong remark: for pity's sake, don't lower your prices, but improve your visitor experience, increase your service, your level of service, your quality of service, but don't practice a suicidal policy of lowering prices because there will always be a competitor who will be less expensive, and at that rate, you're paying your customers to come, so that's not the solution at all
EH That's still interesting, there are still a lot of things to be put in place, thank you again and the last point because you added a layer, you did a good job. Closer to us, in fact to conclude, you have studied the visitor experience in times of health crisis because as we said at the beginning, it is likely to be repeated several times, so now we really need to integrate it into the experience, not user experience but visitor experience
So you have analyzed the evolutions and you have brought out five important points, so I think it is important to put them forward for all those who listen to us for their communications
AS There are five dimensions that specifically emerge since March 2020 in the design and management of tourism experiences. There is no order of priority and they are at about the same level:
- Obviously health security
- Have an offer that is efficient that is to say that people need efficiency, performance in a very important way.
- It is the issue of technological connectivity. We have more tolerance for places that are not connected or only weakly connected unless it is a conscious choice. We are proposing a digital detox and we must assume it to the end. I often say for the territories, the establishments which are installed on territories where the connection is a little random and transform this pein into nuggets and assume it, assert it, make it in your difference but do not take in trap your customers for whom a very high speed connection is a standard and who discover on the spot in fact they receive Edge in the best of the cases.
- The fourth point it is a benevolent reception. Yes, all hoteliers and restaurant owners and all people who work in the hospitality industry are tired and have been shocked like all other citizens, except that you do not have the right to complain when you receive customers because there is nothing worse than a merchant who complains. You don't have the right not to hear the tiredness, the frustration, the difficulty, on the contrary it's unfortunate but that's how it is, it's your welcoming posture. Welcoming is also welcoming the emotions and frustrations of others. It's a terribly thankless job, but when it works, when you do it well, you completely take your clients into another dimension. What is very hard when you do that is the repetition and to welcome the aggressiveness, the frustration of a customer once in a day, we are almost all able to do it but when it is ten times, a hundred times in the same day it is unbearable. And for all that, well, that's our job when we're in hospitality. This question of benevolence is particularly crucial and if you are at the end of your rope, if you are tired, then maybe it's time to think about doing something else because this is the last moment, at this time, when you can allow yourself, you can no longer allow yourself to be in a reception that is not benevolent. You have to remember that you only have one chance to make a good impression, so this is important, very important. It is terribly ungrateful, I know that what I am saying is so difficult, it is hard, but it is the reality of our market.
- Last but not least, responsible consumption is the ability to allow our customers to practice tourism in accordance with their convictions. So this implies rethinking the sourcing of foodstuffs, the way of doing the rooms for example: can't we use natural products like vinegar or steam rather than ultra aggressive noise. It is also much better for your staff. There are other ways of cleaning, ways of treating the different jobs in the hotel industry. Because it's something that always fascinates me in the hotel business, it's the number of jobs in such a small area. There are many things to do in the short circuit in particular. There are a lot of very interesting approaches, a certain number of labels that are also interesting. The labels are not for the sake of having the label, but to be part of a continuous improvement process, which for me is the most interesting thing. So finally, before trying to get the label everywhere, try to go step by step, I would even say baby step by baby step. Try to improve your practices, it allows you to make mistakes when you do baby steps, and these are baby mistakes. Here I encourage to do it
EH and then if we don't have the means to obtain a label, we can also find the reference systems to apply on our own. We can say to ourselves that we are doing the process ourselves and we don't need to pay if we don't have the means for the moment. In any case, we will be committed to the process.
AS Exactly and most importantly it also allows you to choose what you prefer to do. There are some things that are easier or more enjoyable, so you start with that and then you move on to the others. Finally, starting with pleasure is the best way to get there. In these difficult moments, it's pleasure that saves us, it's pleasure in the work, it's pleasure in the reception; it's pleasure in contact with our teams or with the clientele, and finally, starting with what is the least difficult, the least unpleasant, ideally the most pleasant, is the best way to get there
EH And moreover, when we are happy, the customers feel it too. It's virtuous, there's a good energy that comes out of the place. Well thank you very much, we've done the trick. It was great, I don't know if there are any questions for the people listening to us. There are some people who arrived during the course so I'm going to get the video and it will be on IGTV so you can see it again. The last one was seen 350 times so I'm not afraid that it will be the same because it's really very interesting and it's good to project yourself, to stop and think about how it will be tomorrow to be ahead of the others because that's how you will stand out. I'm also going to put in the bio the link to download Armelle's hyper complete presentation, her crazy work. I've also put a little questionnaire for you once again to tell me what you thought of this live. For the moment I don't have another date planned. In any case if you have ideas of people that you want to see, themes that you want to address, well, it's also your live, I had read the study so it's for you and I would be really happy because you make feedback and I will try to find people who are good.
Again, thank you to you, thank you to Armelle, thank you for having accepted the invitation, it was a great pleasure and I wish you a good evening. Thank you for having missed your second aperitif on the terrace to be with us and I wish you all a good evening, I say to you very quickly.