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In 2016, Univairmer will launch door-to-door selling with the joint-venture MyTravel!

the network aims at 100 to 120 sales outlets by the end of 2018

Univaimer hopes to reach a perimeter of 100 to 120 integrated physical agencies by the end of 2018. The next operation for external growth is planned for next March. The group, that recently acquired 24 Thomas Cook agencies, is also going to put 15 of its agencies under the Jet Tours brand. Other lines of development: door-to-door selling and the development of custom-made trips with Tourcom's DMCs.

Rédigé par Céline Eymery translated by Joséphine Foucher le Lundi 12 Octobre 2015

Jean Dionnet during the Univairmer convention in Hyères in the Var region - Photo CE
Jean Dionnet during the Univairmer convention in Hyères in the Var region - Photo CE
In spite of a chaotic 2015 year, and a transforming market, Univairmer is accelerating the expansion of its distribution network.

Endowed with 58 sales outlets (+11 Univairmer franchises) and a call center (for major accounts), the group is expecting to double its perimeter in the next 3 years to reach between 100 and 120 integrated sales outlets, when the original goal was set at 75 sales outlets.

A new external growth plan is already programmed for March 2016.

Many opportunities are in sight. “Thomas Cook seems to orient itself more towards the franchise. There are also possibilities on FRAM’s side, and Nouvelles Frontières is restructuring,” states Jean Dionnet, CEO of Univairmer during a press conference in parallel of the group’s convention in Hyères this weekend in the Var.

This appetite for conquest does not keep the group from proceeding to “adjustments.” After the closing of the Rouen agency in 2014, due to lack of profitability, it is the one at Paris Opéra, reaching the end of its lease, that will shut down by next November, due to “unaffordable rent.” (€7,500/month)

Before picking up speed, the group is working to “digest” the 24 Thomas Cook agencies acquired last June. “For this project, Thomas Cook listed around forty agencies to us,” specifies the CEO.

39 Thomas Cook - Jet Tours signs between now and February 2016

The arrival of 63 new associates accounts for more than 50% of the company’s workforce.

While these agencies will remain connected to Thomas Cook’s payment terminal, Tess, they will need to adapt to new technological tools, a new commercial policy, and new providers… a major challenge.

“This is kind of the beginning of the adventure,” confided one travel agent who was meeting the teams for the first time during the convention.

Jean Dionnet is conscious “that it will take time,” but he remains confident. “Plurality is a force that will lead to a Univairmer culture in the future,” he insists before adding: “we are not going to thomascook ourselves,” hoping to appease some people’s worries.

Nevertheless, the links are getting stronger between the two partners. In the realm of the acquisition of the 24 agencies, a commercial agreement was signed that commits Univairmer to maintaining the Thomas Cook brand for 3 years, and to make €13.8 million in business volume with Thomas Cook/Jet tours, out of the €90 million expected in 2016.

Simultaneously to this agreement, 15 Univairmer agencies will carry the Jet Tours sign by February. “With 39 agencies, we will become the largest carrier of the Thomas Cook/Jet Tours brand,” specifies Jean Dionnet.

“One of our development lines is to base ourselves on the popularity of our partner brands,” he adds. “Thomas Cook-Jet Tours is equally important as Asia, Kuoni, Austral Lagons and others,” he reminded during a plenary meeting at the convention.

Because Jean Dionnet hopes to improve the control of sales. The non-referenced sales of providers account for a volume of €4 million, or 8% of the overall business volume.

“We can do better to lower this rate. With our VIAXEO tool (that counts no less than 178,000 client files) we will be able to refine the commercial policy, one sales outlet at a time."

In 2015, the 22 partners of the network all reached the first level of incentives, and 14 of them even reached the 3rd and 4th levels.

Custom-made: form 15% of the business volume with DMCs

The associates of Univairmer during the weekend’s convention - Photo CE
The associates of Univairmer during the weekend’s convention - Photo CE
But next to tour-operators, Univairmer wants to pick up speed on custom-made trips.

A new internal service, composed of two people, will aid agencies in the creation of their trips.

“La Fabrique” - as it is called - will base itself on Tourcom Incoming Agencies, while synergies will have to be found with the internal DMCs platform.

In 2016, the goal is to make 15% of the business volume from this segment (meaning €6.6 million), and 30% by 2018, with a minimum of 20% in margin.

“There is no contradiction with our partners, some TOs have made the choice to leave this segment of the market. We want to stand out and assert our added value,” explains Jean Dionnet.

Currently, 82% of the business volume comes from partner TOs, and 10% from custom-made trips.

Launch of door-to-door selling

Finally, in January, Univairmer will tackle door-to-door selling, through a joint-venture called MyTravel.

Piloted by the commercial management body, the structure will have the objective of recruiting freelance advisors on the basis of a 10 to 12 hour monthly contract with a payment system based on a 3 to 7% incentive.

“We will create a commercial force that will reach out to new clients to create trips and refer them back to travel agencies. The goal is to have one per every city where there is a Univairmer agency,” details Jean Dionnet.

The group that sent 79,000 clients travelling (call centers and agencies) in 2015 should make €58 million in business volume (vs. €47.5 million in 2014) for a business turnover of €12.9 million (vs. €10.9 million in 2014), during the financial year ending next October 31st.

The operating result should reach €350,000. And the debt ratio should extend to 47%.

“This is not bad considering the current context,” comments Jean Dionnet. The attacks in Tunisia have weighted strongly on our accounts: “It cost us €1.5 million in cancellations.”

For 2016, Univairmer aims at a business volume of €90 million, for a turnover of €19 million. As for the operating result, it should reach €720,000 and expand to €1.4 million by late 2018…

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Tags : thomas cook

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