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London: successful seduction operation for pros of the PACA region

A look at Best of Provence 2016

On Wednesday May 18, 2016, to seduce its primary foreign market, the Paca region went all out in London by inviting around 200 professionals of British tourism (TO, agencies, and press) to meet with players of the region, on the banks of the River Thames.

Rédigé par Anaïs Borios translated by Joséphine Foucher le Lundi 23 Mai 2016

A workshop in the colors of Provence to seduce the English market - DR : A.B.
A workshop in the colors of Provence to seduce the English market - DR : A.B.
Already in London in 2012, the PACA Regional Tourism Committee (CRT) went on the offense again but organizing its operation “Best Of Provence” inside the Engineering and Technologies Institute, on the banks of the River Thames, on Wednesday May 18, 2016.

Around fifty professionals from the region - from the Hautes Alpes, to Camargue, going through Saint-Tropez - responded to the invitation, especially from hoteliers and a dozen tourism offices, but also the Marseille airport, Eurostar, museums, and wineries.

An opportunity to meet nearly one hundred tour-operators, around sixty MICE agencies and approximately thirty British journalists, in the span of a workshop.

“The objective of the operation with Atout France is to help all entrepreneurs in connection to tourism in the Provence region to make direct contact with our region's primary European clients: the English, explains Renaud Muselier, President of the CRT PACA.

The idea is to work together in order to present, jointly, our products to the English who are the primary consumers of the Provence product.”

The British market maintains itself in PACA

Because, indeed, the British market maintains itself well, compared to other clienteles, with 830,000 stays recorded in 2015 (8.6 days on average), accounting for 15% of international stays in the region.

Similarly, with 7.5 million overnight stays, it leads all foreign markets for hotels, and holds 4th place for camping.

This clientele, that is mostly present in the summer, is especially attracted to cities and villages, cuisine and wines, and of course beach resorts.

“Is it the mountains, the sun, the villages, the sea, our smooth quality of life? It’s a combination of all of that, an alchemy, that makes our destination so appealing,” specifies Renaud Muselier.

As an honorary host of this event, the Marseille Tourism Office is in line with this cooperation effort. “It is very difficult for Marseille alone or Provence alone to reach out to such a sought-after market, adds Maxime Tissot, Executive Director of the Tourism and Congress Office of Marseille.

We need to have a structured offer in Provence and we need to work together to do so.”

Marseille attracts 200,000 clients from the United Kingdom every year.

It is true that the regional service contributes to that. “The Marseille airport has a central position in the region, states Romain Wino, Territorial Marketing Manager for the Marseille Provence Airport.

This targeted trade-fair responds to the strong challenge of the year, which is the growth in the number of passengers between the United Kingdom and Marseille.”

This acceleration is enabled, in part, by the increase in capacity from and to AMP. British Airways and its 3 daily flights decided to position Airbuses A320 to replace the A319. And easyjet is getting ready to open a line toward Glasgow for June 29th.

More important airline and train service

Eurostar, that tackled the London - Avignon - Marseille axis just one year ago also has a bright future ahead, with 120,000 passengers transported on the first year.

Tony Cancelliere, Development Director of the English tour-operator ShortBreaks relies a lot on this service. “We offer Eurostar + hotel packages to English clients for long leisure weekends,” he specifies.

The tour-operator markets its product both on its website but also via private sales platforms.

“Today, we wish to meet with hoteliers from Marseille to create new products on the city and to showcase its attractiveness.”

These new packages will also enable the TO to secure its operations following the drop of reservations due to the Paris and Brussels attacks that still hold clients back today.

“British clients love to travel by train and as long as the rates remain competitive, our operations will work,” he concludes.

These clients also enjoy the TGV Avignon service to do a tour in the region, confirms Benoît Chabaud, Commercial Director of the Lieutaud Coaches in Avignon.

“The English market is the one that has suffered the least in the last one to two years,” he adds.

His group, specialized in the rental of coaches with chauffeurs, manages the transportation of cruise-goers on excursions, conference delegates, or incentive groups.

“We mostly work with foreign TOs and, particularly, for river cruises on the Rhône, with a clientele that is 95% Anglo-Saxon,” specifies Benoît Chabaud.

Renaud Muselier teases Spain

Many of the province's hoteliers also attended the "Best of Provence" event.

“The English clientele is an important market during the high season, explains Céline Maginel, Sales Director of the Byblos Hotel. We prospect a lot toward British agencies and we even have a representative office in London.”

While the hotel mostly welcomes a jet set clientele during the summer, in the remainder of the season it receives requests for incentives. “The English know the region very well, sometimes they even introduce me to some places!”

Axel Briend, Contracts Manager France for Secret Escapes, a private sales platform of upscale hotel services, and that recently opened a website in France, took advantage of this workshop to meet with 4* and 5* facilities in Provence.

“We are looking for upscale hotels or boutique hotels that are little known to the larger public but that offer additional services. We wish to provide them with visibility on the international market through occasional and exclusive promotional offers.”

Beyond making contacts, this workshop was also a great way to greet partners. “This medium-size trade-fair is more intimate, warm and flexible,” comments Marie-Charles Houston, Contracts Manager for the group Cox & Kings.

And faced with the growing craze over Provence, Renaud Muselier took advantage of his speech to tease the favorite European destination of the English: “Spain is beautiful, the Mediterranean, but nothing is more beautiful than Provence.”

Londres : opération séduction réussie pour les pros de la région PACA

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