The French tour operator, which has been specialising since 1987 in the tropical island market, counts Veranda Leisure & Hospitality (VLH) amongst its very first partners, able to meet the needs of various types of guests and new trends in tourism.

Since its set up in 1987, Exotismes, the French travel operator, has specialised in tropical island destinations such as the Caribbean, the Indian Ocean, Polynesia and New Caledonia. In its home market and each of its destinations, it is regarded as one of the best tour operators (TO). Exotismes has an excellent reputation in the tourism sector and is recommended by the main French travel agency groups.

Mauritius is one of the principal destinations in its catalogue, which includes many of the national and international hotel chains in its packages. The VLH Group has been one of the TO’s partners since its first brochure came out in 1987, when only the Veranda hotel in Grand Bay existed.

“The partnership was significant as, when it was first set up, it was not easy for Exotismes to find hotels willing to work with them. 2011 has marked the 25th anniversary of this collaboration, making it even more important!” exclaims Gilbert Cisneros, president of the Marseilles-based company.

“The Domaine de Bel Ombre is able to meet the demand for something different, luxurious and highly personalised, which enables it to stand out from competitors,” reckons Gilbert Cisneros, president of the French tour operator. Exotismes, specialised in travel to tropical islands in the Caribbean, the Indian Ocean, Polynesia and New Caledonia.

Recent trends

“Things have changed a lot over the last 25 years,” he goes on. “The Mauritian tourism industry has become much more professional in order to meet the challenge of the increasing numbers of tourists on holiday in the country. Moreover, since the 1980s, there have been a lot of changes in tourism habits for several reasons.In the first place, tourism is no longer the preserve of an elite, thanks to developments in the airline industry and, as a result, a growth in available accommodation. Additionally, we have gone from somewhat inexperienced customers, exploring new destinations and the joys of travel, to an informed clientele, or experienced travellers, always looking for something new. Lately, the advent of the internet has accelerated the inexorable tendency allowing customers to negotiate and become involved in constructing the products they buy”.

“Today’s traveller is very well informed, using the various channels available like social networks and hotel websites. He reads the comments of other travellers. The financial crisis has accelerated the way people take their holidays, staying for shorter periods of seven to eight days rather than the previous average of nine and a half. Bookings have gone from several months in advance to about one month due to the last-minute syndrome”.

Well placed to meet expectations

What customers expect has changed, partly due to the financial crisis but also to the new expectations of the younger generation.

“We have to offer services that have greater emotional impact and satisfy the search for happiness. To meet more personalised demands, today we have to be able to tailor-made everything throughout the value chain. Today’s tourist wants to be involved in the package. He is looking for something special, so not the standard offer, rather for something out of the ordinary. However, he’s also looking for a fair deal so far as the place/quality/price equation is concerned, based on his own research”. “It seems that luxury tourism is still favoured by older people, perhaps linked to a feeling of the status they’ve acquired. To fully understand how customers behave and the changes that have come about, it is worth emphasising the ever-increasing percentage of the household budget allocated to holidays in recent years. In this context,” Gilbert Cisneros affirms, “VLH seems well equipped to meet developments. With a range of hotels, from three to five-star, the group’s hotels can satisfy different types of customer, both in terms of budget or type of hotel. A hotel set-up that remains on a human scale means you can respond to the growing demand for personalisation from a number of customers. The Domaine de Bel Ombre, which includes five-star hotels, villas and a golf course in a delightful natural environment, means you can respond to the demand for something different, luxurious and highly personalised, which enables it to stand out from competitors”.

As you can imagine, it is, of course, very pleasant to hear such words of encouragement.

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