Hélion de Villeneuve : "désormais, les personnes vaccinées peuvent voyager presque partout. C’est une très bonne  nouvelle et ça change tout. La vaccination est notre seule porte de sortie !" - DR

Hélion de Villeneuve (Austral Lagons): “Vaccination is our only way out!”

Destinations

TourMaG.com – How do you see the recovery and what are the main challenges, according to you?
Hélion de Villeneuve:
Since June we have observed a very strong demand. This has eased a bit since mid-July, but that’s normal.
We feel that the French are fed up and want to travel. As soon as a destination is authorized we register a very strong surge in reservations.
French savings have risen sharply during the crisis and I am sure will allow a real recovery.
Our difficulty is linked to instability, destinations open and close, we book, cancel, re-book … customers are afraid of a fourth wave. These uncertainties prevent our clients from projecting themselves.
But now, vaccinated people can travel almost anywhere. This is great news and it changes everything. Vaccination is our only way out!
Still, I can’t wait for the color codes to stop, if the Maldives and the Seychelles remain in red it will penalize autumn and winter. The good news is the reopening of Mauritius on October 1st.
2022 should be better than 2021..It’s not difficult – But we won’t be back to 2019 levels until 2023.

TourMaG.com – Will human resources (HR) play an axial role in the revival of the tourism industry?
Hélion de Villeneuve:
Without our teams our companies would not exist. This period has been extremely difficult for all employees.
Some have lived almost in a crisis cell for 18 months. It’s horribly long, tiring and it’s not the job they signed up for. Others have not worked for a long time. It’s tough morally and it’s hard to get back on track. The challenge is to regain our productivity and a taste for work.
Our employees put in a lot of effort and have all experienced declining incomes for too long and the wages in our industry are already low. It is imperative that we can get our customers to leave and that we regain a level of activity that allows us to once again reward our teams.
If the state has helped us a lot and I thank him for that, I sincerely regret that he paid the workers to do nothing, he should have paid the workers to work. I am afraid of the consequences of this measure comparable to the effect of the 35 hours.
The other big HR difficulty is getting the teams back to the office. Many have taken a liking to telecommuting and do not want to return, they have lost the habit of public transport. But this greatly affects our productivity, our creativity and the team spirit that has always been the strength of our company.
We have reactivated almost all of our teams and put in place a schedule of gradual return to the office in order to be ready for the recovery which I hope is near.

TourMaG.com – At the level of your company, what are you going to change and what are the challenges to be taken up in the coming months?
Hélion de Villeneuve:
We have reworked all of our productions, on each of our destinations and are going to release 5 catalogs, Tahiti and her islands, Indian Ocean, Southern Africa and Latin America and a new one entirely devoted to the Dominican Republic, which will be distributed in mid-August. to agencies.
As you can see, we have not given up, on the contrary and we believe in a recovery soon. The challenge is to revive the machine, communication, commercial actions, sales, finally to do our job again!
The challenge is that our momentum is not broken when the new school year begins in September and that vaccinated people can definitely travel without constraint and everywhere.

TourMaG.com – Do you fear this recovery, between the drop in aid, the repayment of assets and additional indebtedness (PGE)?
Hélion de Villeneuve:
No, I do not fear the recovery and the decline in aid. I can not wait to see him. I am an entrepreneur, I do not set up companies so that they live on state aid, but so that they develop, create wealth and jobs.
We are a B2B operator and have very little customer credit, the majority having already been reimbursed. The repayment of the assets will have a marginal impact on our cash flow.
TourMaG.com – Faced with this pandemic, what do you think the tourism of tomorrow will look like?
Hélion de Villeneuve:
I don’t think the pandemic will change tomorrow’s tourism at least not in leisure, maybe it will have more impact in business travel, but it’s not my niche.
Ecotourism / responsible trends are not new and are not related to the crisis and will continue to develop. We have been in this niche for a long time, far from mass tourism, offering accommodation on a human scale that respects the environment. We make the local populations work to discover these dream destinations as close as possible to the inhabitants.
The question I ask myself is more related to the method of customer reservations. E-commerce has experienced a very strong acceleration during the crisis, more than three times higher than its natural trend, customers are adopting certain habits. On the other hand, the agencies felt a real craze when they reopened, and in these confused times they bring real reassurance.

Find all the articles in our summer 2021 series by clicking on this link.