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Club Med: 65 years of happiness

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  •   05-26-2015  11:28 am

Club Med: 65 years of happiness

Carolyne Doyon, senior vice president - Canada & Mexico, Club MedIt started with a property in Spain, a collection of tents, and above all, a desire to spread happiness amongst travellers.

One of the most iconic and longest-running brands in the travel industry, Club Med marked its 65th anniversary in April. Carolyne Doyon, senior vice president of Club Med Canada, took some time to chat with PAX about the past, present and future of the brand in Canada as the company marks a milestone year.

Opening its Canadian office in 1978, the company’s roots reach further back and across the Atlantic. Founded by Gérard Blitz in April 1950 as Club Méditerranée, the company set out to offer a new kind of vacation with a focus on outdoor living and sports. The first Club Med resort opened in Alcudia, Spain, with tents instead of a permanent resort facility.

Club Med’s first wave of expansion started with the opening of a resort in Tahiti in 1955 and in 1956, the brand expanded to offer its first all-inclusive ski vacation. In 1965, the opening of Club Med Agadir saw the first permanent resort building as opposed to tents. The 1980s saw the brand expand further with new properties in Bora Bora, Malaysia, Brazil, Mexico, Bahamas, and Maldives.

Sixty-five years since that first property opened in Spain, Club Med’s portfolio has grown to 65  properties on five continents including 20 ski resorts in the Alps.

Doyon said that since Club Med’s Canadian offices opened its doors in Montreal in the late 1970s, the brand has been about “sharing happiness,” a concept which she said has evolved with the times, requiring new approaches in marketing. In 2004, the group refocused its business on the upscale segment of the world tourism market, offering upscale, multicultural all-inclusive holidays. 

“This is part of the DNA of our brand,” said Doyon. “In 1976, happiness was all about reconnecting with simple pleasures of life. In 1989, happiness was about having the freedom of choice and being proud of it. In 2013, conversation is global, making happiness participative. Everyone must be able to define their own vision. This is how Club Med is offering to everyone the chance of experiencing happiness as lived in their dreams.”

Doyon said that right from the beginning, Club Med has enjoyed a strong partnership with its Canadian travel partners, a bond which she counts as among the key highlights of the company’s time in Canada.

“They have been our ambassadors for over 35 years,” she said. “There is also the loyalty of our clients and the attachment to the Club Med brand across the country.”

Doyon said that while traditional vacation hotspots remain the most popular with the more than 36,000 Canadian travellers who stay with Club Med each year, many are heading to the slopes instead of the beach. The company opened its newest Alpine property in Val Thorens, France earlier this year.

“A large amount of our clients are travelling to our Caribbean and Mexican resorts,” Doyon said, adding that the company has eight properties in those regions, many of which were among the first resorts in their respective locations. “Then, for the last three years, we have positioned our ski offer in the Canadian marketplace to promote our destinations mainly in the Alps. We observed very good results, with a double digit growth year over year not only for the individual reservation but also for groups.”

In addition to diversifying Club Med’s advertising channels, changes in technology have allowed for the company to share that all-important happiness in more ways with guests.

Val Thorens, France“Everything is thought to make the customer journey a seamless process,” Doyon said. “Our website home page was totally rebuilt last December in an immersive design. This reflects the Club Med brand identity with an upscale look, sleek layout and larger, more vivid imagery offering a more visually dynamic user experience.”

“We also launched dedicated in- resort apps for Sandpiper Bay, Florida and Val Thorens Sensations in the French Alps that give to clients all information they need, updated on regular frequencies,” she said, adding that the concept will expand to other Club Med properties in the future. “We have also developed an online ‘easy check-in’ for Val Thorens Sensations. This allows guests to enjoy a seamless arrival by having all ski and snowboard equipment prepared and placed in their personal locker prior to arrival thanks to online registration.”

Looking ahead, Doyon said Club Med will continue on its present course by offering more of what has made the brand an industry mainstay since the 1950s. 

“We continue to offer new destinations to our clients, like possible new ski destinations in North America and resorts in other parts of the world. We will continue to offer happiness to our clients for many years to come.”

This is the fourth installment in a series marking major anniversaries in the travel industry. Previous stories include Simplyitickets.com, Korea Tourism Organization and G Adventures.

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