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Tourism Offices: Discover The World, soon a new tool in its toolbox?

In 2014, the group should generate 1 billion dollars for its clients.


Michèle Bernard heads the Parisian agency that represents Discover The World, that helps airline, hotel, and cruising companies to develop on the French market. She started with Qatar Airways, and now manages 12 clients who all hope to make their mark in France.



The close-knit team of Discover The World. DR - DTW
The close-knit team of Discover The World. DR - DTW
TourMaG.com - Tell us how the Parisian office of Discover The World materialized.

Michèle Bernard: The idea of a representation office was placed, more than 30 years ago, in the mind of Douglas Rhymes, in the United States.

Paris was one of the first offices that opened abroad in the 1980s. On my end, I was contacted in 1997 in order to represent a client that was still unknown in France: Qatar Airways.

At the time, I knew how to win the trust of tour-operators thanks to some destinations that were little served, such as Katmandu. When Eric Didier (current France director at Qatar Airways) arrived in Paris, we even shared our offices until 2003.

Simultaneously, other companies buffed up our accounts, such as Aircalin, Ukraine International, Virgin Atlantic or Copa Airlines.

We’re currently managing 12 clients, of which the majority are airline companies. But our most important client in terms of business turnover remains Expedia Taap.

TourMaG.com - Can you give us an assessment of the French market by the end of 2014?

Michèle Bernard: We have not yet summed up our accounts, so it will be difficult to give you a number, but we will be stable. We’re hoping to be growing, but the crisis in Ukraine has shaken up our projections.

The Discover group, globally, should end the year with a turnover on the rise by 15.3%. We should surpass the one billion dollar mark generated for our clients.

Europe is doing very well with an increasing turnover by 12.6%, which accounts for 36% of its total activity.

TourMaG.com - How do you differentiate yourself from your two main competitors, APG and Aviareps?

Michèle Bernard: I think that we have major stability amongst our 11 people team. This low turnover allows us to maintain an expertise, which is always reassuring for a foreign company who wants to work in France.

We also offer different levels of missions, either globally, or sometimes a simple business representation. For example, for the Steigenberger hotels we only work for them on the MICE market.

In fact, I don’t really like the term GSA as it has a negative connotation in the mind of some people.

We don’t just sell tickets, we have a global approach for all of those wishing to make their mark on the French market and promote themselves in the B2B sector.

TourMaG.com - What are your growth perspectives?

Michèle Bernard: Today, we respond to various call for bids in the hotel world. It’s a sector that is conscious of the importance of representation to develop on the foreign market.

There are also various tools to bring to light, I’m thinking about a software to sell cruising companies throughout the world.

Finally, there are always new companies that are looking to establish themselves in France. We have just signed, for instance, with Air Astana, the national airline company of Kazakstan.

And even if we don’t have experience yet on representing tourism offices, we could start looking into it.

Written by Laury-Anne CHOLEZ translated by Joséphine Foucher the 12/01/2015
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