Afat Voyages, the first voluntary network of travel agencies in France (612 points of sale, 1.35 billion euros of turnover for 2007-2008), recently celebrated its twentieth anniversary. In an interview with the "Echos", its President, Jean-Pierre Mas, analyses the evolution of its sector. It calls especially for the construction of an alternative to the two large tour operators germano-britanniques, TUI Travel (groups new borders and Marmara in France) and the Thomas Cook Group, and implicitly approved the possibility of a rapprochement with FRAM. In the immediate future, it considers that its network needs "the tools of integrated operators", where a radical change in strategy Internet.
Business travel and the "tour operating" are depressed. How translate this reversal of Shu'afat travel market
Our fiscal year 2007-2008 ended 31 October, we cannot say that the network has been significantly result. At worst, the reversal of conditions is real on the last month. In the end, we end the year on a growth of 3 on a comparable basis, the volume of cases culminating in total to EUR 1.35 billion. In detail and on a comparable basis, air ticketing is stagnant, which already shows a decrease in business travel, rail ticketing is 6, the effect TGV is continuing to play, and the party recreation grows 6 globally. The resale of packages for its part is growing by 4 but it is mainly the rise in the price. However, with a 27 jump, our custom tourist products continue to develop strongly.
In 2008-2009, we are seeing a decrease in activity with a decline of 30 in October and 20 in November, but I have no visibility on the suite. I hope a stability through the extension of the network, because I do not think a price effect, we are in a phase of deflation. In the immediate future, I see a new trend from the previous month: the top of range, including Club Med, is affected for two months, the entry that suffers from the spring. In this sector, travel decision-making collapsed in October on destinations like Maldives and Mauritius. I analyze this phenomenon as the result of real anguish the crisis and a wait. There are also quite important reports on the France, skiing and travel last minute in Europe.
Your news, it is also the project of reform of the distribution of travel that has long attracted many concerns. In the end, the President of the national Union of travel agents declared himself satisfied. Do you share his feelings
The result is actually satisfactory, but there has been what very anxious at the start. Evolution is going in the right direction: it is satisfactory that the profession of travel agent kind of a world protected to enter in a competitive world, with a major concern for the protection of the consumer. On the merits, reform takes the main principles of our licence: the financial guarantee is retained, as the principle of responsibility of right of the seller, but is now partially limited (Editor's note, it is aligned on international air transport agreements). Reform keeps even the concept of "travel agent". For my part, I would have preferred that it opts for the "tour operator". As such, need to be vigilant to the vote of the Act and the drafting of the decrees.
Afat Voyages celebrates its twenty years in a period of crisis, while continues the consolidation of the "tour operating" and the rise of the Internet. In this context, should the model of the voluntary system not evolve
The future is surely not remain isolated to the mastodons are Thomas Cook Group and TUI Travel. We have two poles, present in the production and distribution. And we are now located between the jaws of a vise. Need to build a third tourist pole in France. We must move towards consolidation in the distribution and production. This is my analysis, but the reality is complex. The short term, should continue to increase the network and the secure. To do this, need us tools to integrated operators. In this framework, we also change size e-commerce. Our partnership with Expedia has been very useful for five years, but it has a limit: we do not control the commercial offer on the Internet and the tool is not multichannel. However, we must combine two dimensions: a network of more than 600 points of sale and an active presence on the Web. We will adopt the TravelTainment solution, the subsidiary of Amadeus. In the future, we will, in the Shu'afat travel agencies and on the Net, sell tour packages and assemble customized trips. The system will be deployed current 2009, the network is equipped at the end of next year.
Back to your strategic analysis. An alliance between Shu'afat travel and FRAM would she not sense
The issue is not without... I repeat myself, it is now clear that there is a place on the French market, for a third pole between Thomas Cook and TUI Travel.