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Savoie Mont Blanc Tourisme: Internet as a tool to conquer clients

Interview with Côme Vermersch, CEO of Savoie Mont Blanc Tourisme


The consulting firms G2A and LHM created a representative investigation for Savoie Mont Blanc Tourisme of French clients having stayed in one of the 110 stations of the destination during the 2013-2014 season. This Savoie Mont Blanc Tourisme Observatory will be conducted every Winter to feed a detailed barometer on the evolution of client behavior. The objective? To adapt the offer and develop innovations to stay on par with clients who are more and more addicted to digital services. But especially to attract new clients. Côme Vermersch, CEO of Savoie Mont Blanc Tourisme, explains these trends.



Côme Vermersch - © SMB – Vincent Bourdon
Côme Vermersch - © SMB – Vincent Bourdon
i-tourisme: Why did you put an Observatory in place?

Côme Vermersch: «The Observatory enables us to study the behavior and desires of not only our current clients but also potential customers.

From it, we can draw conclusions on emerging trends.”

i-tourisme: What did it teach you about the reservation process?

CV: «The preferred information sources for vacation searches are first direct advices from family or friends, for 47% of the interviewed people, and after that, the stations’ website, for 38% of the respondents.

As for accommodation reservations, 62% have used a computer, smartphone or tablet.”

i-tourisme: And what is the profile of your clients?

CV: «First observations, skiers are very digitally active, much more than the national average.

We knew that but we were still surprised to measure the extent to which they are; meaning, before departure, which is the moment we try to conquer them, during and after the stay, these are two important timeframes because they are crucial in helping us attract the clients for future stays with us.

We were surprised to notice the high level of interactivity during the stay: 83% of our clients used the station’s application in the 2013-2014 Winter season.

They check the weather conditions, the snow, the map of the slopes. This accounts for one third of the searches.

71% of clients in the stations used social networks to communicate during their stay: posting on social networks with photos, films, messages…

Then comes to moment of leaving comments, grades, and recommandations.

This observation on the importance of digital activity during the whole process led us to taking concerte actions.”

Creating affinity via Internet

i-tourisme: What concrete actions did you put in place?

CV: «There are three facets to our actions. They correspond to different expectations.

- First, the actions to conquer new clients.

7 to 8% of French people go skiing. The progression margin remains important.

Many know little or nothing about us. Today, buying a vacation requires as much investment as buying a car.

We have to go towards them, establish a friendly relationship, provide them with emotion, make them dream a little.

To do so, we have created an Internet campaign “Creating Memories”: there’s a website, Facebook page, and videos on our Youtube channel.

We send them regular messages through a newsletter.

- Then, we have to retain customers

We have many repeaters. For them, we have to keep reassuring them. Clients need lots of data, they’re always looking for new things, and always compare.

Our Website responds to these requests and to our clients’ needs for information. It contains 1.5 million data.

50% of the trafic is requests. So, there’s work to do on keywords to better respond to detailed searches. We’re aiming for long-term loyalty.

Various promotion channels are activated through a drive-to-web approach: the goal being to direct people to our web services in order to capture their email adresses.

From the moment we have a contact, we can smoothly send them newsletters and create an affinity.

Today, our contact list counts 100,000 addresses. We’re aiming for 1 million.

Our Internet communications strategy is only beginning.

- And finally, working with our clients’ commitment

Our clients are major users of digital tools. For them to communicate on our brand online we have to be present on social networks.

Especially Facebook where we have 120,000 followers currently. This is not enough but our commitment rate is very good, up to 4.5%.

Our objective, then, is to increase in volume without loosing commitment. We're organizing recruiting campaigns through prize games to win a week-long trip.

We do it with lots of segmentations on the target and profiles. Today, one post is seen by 50,000 people.

In 2015, we want to double in size and reach 300,000 fans with the same commitment rate.

The twitter account @SavoieMontBlanc is aimed at French journalists only, whereas the account @SMBInt managed by foreign markets is followed by journalist and TOs from abroad.

We will launch instagram in 2015.

The affinity relationships is an important aspect of our strategy. This is why we’re multiplying spokespersons: the goal is to have those close to the place communicate about it.”

A drive-to-web approach

i-tourisme: How do you talk to a foreign clientele?

CV: “In 2015, we will launch a procedure to think of digital usage towards foreign markets.

The solution isn’t to translate the website in various languages. We really have to adapt it to the culture of the countries, with a specific strategy.

Will we need a website or a Facebook community? We’ll think about it.

Our community manager will internationalize itself along with our buying policy of keywords.”

i-tourisme: What are your main projects for 2015?

CV: “Digitalizing the mountain. Continuing to boost the web, conquering new clients.

The campaign of purchasing web space will continue.

We’re determinably oriented towards a drive-to-web strategy because we want to develop our database to have an efficient and customized client relationship.

To fully master our Web strategy, we develop skills in-house. That is a point that I find crucial”

BtoB tools to train tourism professionals

According to the Observatory, the contacted tourism professionals are local accommodations (20%), private renters (20%) and then tour-operators (15%.)

To train travel agents particularly, Savoie Mont Blanc Tourisme put in place a professional training tool.

The e-learning website was developed thanks to the following partners: Groupe Pierre & Vacances-Center Parcs, Savoie Mont Blanc Tourisme, France Montagnes, Skiset, ESF (French Ski School).

This e-learning website, created two years ago has various versions - French, English and Russian - adapted to these markets’ particularities.

“Distribution does not know much about skiing, it doesn’t know how to sell it. While this requires time, and knowledge,” explains Côme Vermersch, CEO of Savoie Mont Blanc.

A website aimed at groups is also available, a rare element in this sector.

“The digital material is updated more easily than a brochure, he adds.

The website is also based on memories. We position ourselves as a help to professionals: we are experts in creating beautiful memories. Our expertise being one of these high memorable moments.”

Written by Mathilde Khlat translated by Joséphine Foucher the 27/01/2015
Read 748 times

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