Servieres Consulting adds French flavour to OTT
OTT is in the process of international expansion, taking online learning to travel agents across the world with the appointment of specialist country and regional marketing agencies.
Since last year, OTT has expanded its reach with the appointment of agencies in Germany, USA and Australia to help further engage clients and business through its network of country websites. The agencies have got to work driving clients’ social media campaigns and produce dedicated OTT blogs and newsletters for the countries and regions that they represent.
We’ve been introducing our country representatives through our News pages. This week, it’s the turn of Frederic Servieres, Founder & Director of Servieres Consulting. Frederic works on OTT France, which includes Belgium, Luxembourg and Switzerland.
Read on to learn more about Frederic’s predictions on where French travellers will be heading after the lifting of lockdown restrictions - and why online learning has become the favoured way of gaining new information.
Frederic, in your own words, tell us a bit about your agency…
FS: “I was educated in France and in the UK and graduated from London University in History & Politics. I spent six years developing new lifestyle products and affinity programmes for some of the world’s leading banks then joined Octopus Travel as head of the international business development team, working on overseas projects including the launch of franchises in Europe and a number of consultancy assignments in the company’s Spanish and Italian offices.”
“I founded Servieres Consulting in 2009, helping companies with their business development strategy, managing big accounts or expansion into other markets. I manage the OTT brand in terms of website content in France. That’s not just a case of knowing the language - it’s making sure the content has meaning true for the market, which is something else altogether.”
How long have you been working in travel?
FS: “I’ve worked in the travel industry for a total of 16 years working in the UK, France and across Europe.”
What trends are you seeing in your market right now?
FS: “The French market is changing all the time, so I need to really keep myself up to date! So often, what's going on changes every day. You need to keep up with travel media platforms, airlines, cruise, tour operators and destinations press releases and newsletters as well as the Ministry of Information, the health ministry, and updated on whichever government department is making that announcement each morning.”
“The French vaccine roll-out has been gaining pace with many slots available because we’ve got more jabs available than we’ve had before. We've got way more vaccinations than the actual number of requests, so availability isn’t a problem.”
“Within France, there's a lot of support for companies that have struggled with Covid restrictions to help them with the recovery. On July 1, the EU’s green passports will come into action and EU residents who have been vaccinated will be able to travel, as long as they can show that they have been fully vaccinated. That's the biggest difference because there will be one policy as a bloc rather than the messy approach at the moment. The bloc is also seeking an agreement with the USA/North American market towards the end of the Summer, to enable Americans and Canadians to travel anywhere in the EU with the same entry conditions.”
“The French want to travel. They’ve stayed at home. They’ve saved a lot of money because they couldn't really go out until recently. All cafes, restaurants, cinemas and museums were opened on June 9. Since mid-June, most of the restrictions have been lifted and the wearing of a mask outside is no longer mandatory.”
“Until recently, most agents were saying that they anticipated most French people, probably because of restrictions would want to stay in France. The country spans both northern and southern Europe so you can go to the south without leaving your borders and still have a nice, sunny weather.”
“Now, increasingly, there's a big demand for Spain or Portugal, Italy, Croatia and Greece. In addition to these European countries, French overseas territories will be available again. Of course it's always a lot easier because they're part of France so we're talking about Martinique in the Caribbean, Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean, French Polynesia (including Tahiti) and New Caledonia in the Pacific. These are popular destinations with many flights from Paris and other cities with Air France, Corsair and Air Caraibes. It's relatively inexpensive from France to travel to overseas territories because it's still considered part of France.”
“Punta Cana and Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic are extremely popular destinations for the French, alongside Mexico (especially Mexico City and the Riviera Maya).”
Can you describe the importance of travel training travel to agents in France?
FS: “French travel agents absolutely love online training and learning, they just can't get enough of it! The trend began long before Covid. There are tonnes of webinars organised all the time on travel media platforms and courses have become even more popular during lockdown.”
How do you think technology is changing the way people learn about and book travel?
FS: “OTT really helps keep agents up to date with its Directory – the technology enables you to follow a company's directory to see the latest product news and see the latest news etc.”
“It also helps you to reach a specific group of target agents – brands are seeing the value of introducing courses which are specifically aimed towards the French market including Sweden, Icelandair Air and the Algarve. New Brunswick, the only bi-lingual Canadian province just agreed to work with us for the French speaking markets and we look forward to launching their course in the coming weeks.”
Can you recommend a destination within the country/market you represent?
FS: “Guadeloupe in the French Caribbean is very easy to get to from France. You've got daily flights several times a day from mainland France and once there, you can fly to all the local Caribbean islands, including English speaking ones like Dominica. Once you're there, it's very easy to get flights all over the region. It's an archipelago with several islands. You can visit the capital city Basse-Terre and the largest metropolis Pointe à Pitre, then there are four or five main islands which are extremely beautiful with their own cuisine and own culture.”
Where would you most like to visit… anywhere in the world?
FS: “I absolutely want to go to Mexico City. The culture is amazing with lots of ancient ruins in the area, there's lots of history and art galleries, museums, canals, parks and some great food. I really want to visit this year or next year - if I can!”