TourMaG.com – You gathered your teams for 4 days last week. A first since the covid pandemic? Francois Piot: Yes we organized our ready-to-go universities at headquarters over 4 days last week (November 16-19, 2021). The idea was to focus this meeting on the reunion of the network. We felt that there was a real need to get together and involve all the employees. We had a high participation rate while the event was optional. The event was articulated between conferences in the morning with key witnesses: Alix Philipon from APST, a committed farmer, a banker from the Banque Populaire, René Thibault de Kuoni, Emmanuel Bourgeat ex-Travelport or a representative of the association that we support in Niger: NIGER MA ZAADA. The afternoon was dedicated to the workshop.
TourMaG.com – You have been writing to your teams since March 2020. What message did you get across this time in person? Francois Piot: The message is that we have to take care of the teams so that they can take care of our customers. We were supported by the government but we must now prepare for the future and continue to build on the momentum we have had since September. We haven’t been losing money for 4 months! We no longer have partial unemployment since May 19, when our branches reopened.
“Morale has never been as good as it has been for two years”
TourMaG.com – Precisely since May 19, customers have returned? François Piot: Yes of course and we even have 40% of new customers. They are disappointed with the Internet, but also clients from other networks who have not taken care of their employees and who have neglected the clientele … The agencies that are doing well are those that take care of their clients … and their collaborators.
TourMaG.com – This event allowed you to survey the morale of the troops. The teams had a difficult time making and breaking up the files and managing the dissatisfaction of certain customers … François Piot: Morale is excellent. It must be said that management has always been present. The company has never ceased to live. I sent (Friday November 19) my 611th message. This exercise of writing to the teams every day is a kind of therapy. Morale has never been as good as it has been in the last two years, and now we have to use this energy, even if in recent days we have seen a decline in order intake. November is not a very good month, either. As soon as Austria reconfigured it had an impact on travelers’ morale. The recovery remains very fragile.
“We must rebuild a relationship of trust with the entire chain”
TourMaG.com – Have you taken any decisions concerning the choice of partners following this crisis? Francois Piot: Yes, we have braked 4 irons on the dynamic package so as not to bear the risk of airline cancellations. We are gradually reopening the tap with the receptives depending on the history we have with these partners and we are trying to pay as late as possible. We still have a lot of money out there. We won’t be able to get everything back. We must rebuild a relationship of trust with the entire chain. There was a panic effect. Relations need to normalize again.
TourMaG.com – When do you think you will be able to reach pre-pandemic levels again? Francois Piot: The loan-to-go volume excluding subsidiaries for a year excluding covid reached nearly € 140 million. We will have to wait until 2023 to return to such levels. The goal in 2022 will be to regain balance. This means that we have to go from 25% of the 2019 levels to at least 80% of the 2019 levels. Next year I will already be very satisfied not to lose money.
“We are recruiting hard”
TourMaG.Com – At the height of the crisis, you told us about the many departures of employees. Where are you and are you recruiting? Francois Piot: Yes, we recruit very hard and we have good profiles. We have also recruited work-study students. We hope to be able to prepare the sequel with them and keep them. At Prêt-à-Partir we try to adapt the company to the employees and not the other way around. And of course whether we open or close the important thing is really to maintain a permanent dialogue with our teams.
TourMaG.com – Finally, last question, how are the asset repayments going? Francois Piot: We made quite a few refunds in September. The level begins to decrease. Our customers were not worried that their money was with us. And to thank them for trusting us, each time we reimburse a customer he leaves with a bottle. The teams left the Prêt-à-Partir Universities with chests full of bottles of wine and champagne …!
Posted by Céline Eymery
Editor-in-Chief – TourMaG.com
See all articles by Céline Eymery