What Club Med is doing to harness digital for better engagement

Resort provider beefs up martech play over last two years in a bid to change the customer experience

Digital bracelets are just one of the martech initiatives Club Med is implementing this year in a bid to transform the resort experience.

The holiday resorts provider, which has 70 resorts worldwide, is rolling out a new payment system that incorporates wearable digital bracelets. Rolled out as a pilot test in the Maldives in March, it is expected to hit all Asian resorts in 2018.

Essentially, the new wearable combines multiple keyless functions and is embedded with an encoded chip, and replaces the current Club Med Bracelet. Functionally, the waterproof digital bracelet also allows guests ease of unlocking their room doors and card-less payments. Transactions are captured via mobile readers at most points of sales.

“Opening the door is one functionality. But there are lots of different ideas and improvements being worked on in terms of bracelet enhancement, especially for families in order to make a connection between the kids and the parents at all times,” Club Med A/NZ marketing manager, Marine Blanchetier, told CMO.

Keeping track of kids in order to boost safety, monitoring resort activities and enhancing overall resort and guest communication are other likely avenues of exploration for the use of the latest wearable technology bracelets in order to make it an "asset and enhance the customer experience," she noted. 

Thinking outside of the box on the digital front is all part of the company’s aggressive ramp up of its martech initiatives - which is projecting a strong focus on digital transformation - over the last two years.  

“There was a big decision made on changing the organisation and bringing someone in from the outside," Blanchetier said.

"At the top mangement level, there was a reorganisation and a new department created, which includes strategy, marketing and IT all in one,”  she said. It was a big change. IT, for example, had been an independent department for a long time, but now is blended with marketing and strategy.

“Now the big projects developed in the company involve multi-functional teams, which is quite innovative. You can actually feel the change of mindset and the change in terms of the pace of new project development teams,” Blanchetier said.

Blanchetier said the company has also created new positions, known as the EGO (the electronic gracious organiser), responsible for creating content in the actual resorts. 

The EGO's provide images, videos and content from the resorts to share on social media, as well as share user generated content provided by guests. They also capture Club Med in real time – as they keep up to speed on the latest technologies, and host Facebook Live moments or Periscope hangouts. 

Today, Club Med's digital initiatives include interacting with customers through digital and social channels, virtual reality videos and mobile apps that allow potential customers to experience what Club Med has to offer.

Club Med is also using 360-degree virtual reality technology to make vacation planning immersive. As part of the plan, the company has unveiled a video series through the brand’s YouTube channel and Facebook page providing virtual tours of its resorts.

“There is also a new resort application that you can download when you visit a resort, the Club Med Resorts App. You get full resort information, the program of the day, and activities,” she said, explaining the Resort App has now become the primary source of resort information.

Since its launch, additional functions have been added to the app including the ability to make spa and restaurant reservations. For groups staying with Club Med for social events or business retreats, the app also provides a dedicated portal featuring schedules for the group, speaker/event profiles and special notifications.

“From a marketing perspective, it is very interesting for us because we have those people [the EGO's] on the ground and they can tell us exactly what’s going on in the resort and create true genuine content on a live basis as well. It has helped us keep track of what’s going on in the resort. We have created Facebook pages and social media pages for each of the resorts now that the EGO’s are managing.”

It's not just customer-facing, either. In 2015, Club Med joined the ranks of enterprises rolling out Facebook’s new professional social media platform, Facebook at Work, in a bid to improve customer experiences globally. At the time, Club Med claimed to be the first global tourism company to offer Facebook at Work to its 13,000 employees, stretching across 66 resorts and 40 countries and encompassing 110 different nationalities.

Blanchetier said the use of program has already proven to be successful. “It has been a great tool and it is now part of our daily life for everyone in the company. It has been a really interesting tool that has become vital for all of us.”

Asked about key trends in the market, she said the big changes afoot are the advent of visual marketing.

“Visual marketing is key, especially for tourism. More and more visual or video is becoming absolutely key to showcase the product. The whole visual approach and how you manage that as a company is very interesting - and the EGO is part of the response to that for Club Med. Having someone that can shoot a video or photo live is really important.”

Club Med is also looking to ramp up its mobile messaging activities. “We’re looking at chat applications and how we can leverage messenger services because everyone is on their phone now so we need to offer quicker access to information,” she said.

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