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ATME 2010 Travel Marketing Conference
ATME 2010 Travel Marketing Conference


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In This Section >> 2002 Conference Report | Introduction: Marketing Strategies in A Changing Environment | Marketing and Communication Strategies for a Completely Different Marketplace | Marketers Coping With a New Normalcy | O’Rourke of TIA on Travel Industry Recovery | DESTINATION CASE STUDIES: Aruba, Hong Kong, Maine, Branson | CASE STUDY : Virginia Is for Lovers in 2002 | CASE STUDY : Club Med | CASE STUDY : Amtrak | 2002 ATME Atlas Awards |


ATME 2002

By Kathleen Cassedy

Club Med

Club Med is France’s largest travel and tourism company, founded in 1950. It was the first company to offer all-inclusive vacation packages, which have become the fastest growing segment within the tourism sector. By year 2000, Club Med’s competition had become intense, and Club Med needed to refresh its image.

Club Med’s concept had become outdated, even though it had more than 100 resort villages in some of the most gorgeous locations in the world, visited by 1.5 million guests each year, explained John Vanderslice (left) President & CEO of Club Med America, a division of Club Méditerannée, at the ATME annual
conference in Baltimore this past May.

Club Med, as a brand had a high recognition level, but its positioning
lacked clarity, Vanderslice said. "The pricing was perceived as too
expensive, and building loyalty and winning new customers had become much

Club Med needed to renovate many of its villages, revamp its information
systems, and deal with other financial, management and legal issues, he said.
"In short, we had to change everything, but …. keep everything the same."
In 1997, Club Mediterannée named a new chairman of its board, Philippe
Bourguignon, and assembled a new management team, which included Vanderslice.

First, the company conducted a brand analysis to determine what originally
had made Club Med so successful, then developed a plan that would strengthen its core values and essential qualities that set it apart from competition.

The company coined a new slogan, "Do it now, do it fast, and do everything at
the same time," Vanderslice said.

"The new Club Med team hit the ground running, rethinking our product,
regaining price competitiveness, improving sales, and re-engineering many of
our operations," Vanderslice recalled.

To strengthen and reposition the brand, Club Med decided to:
o Renovate villages, spending more than $150 million just in North America.
o Increase spending on marketing, and focus on new media, especially online.
o Simplify Club Med’s price structure by offering fewer price levels and
reducing the number of promotions.
o Extend product offerings by upgrading shows and introducing new
activities, which included wall climbing, roller blading and circus arts.
o Reorganize operations, and move Club Med’s headquarters from New York to

By late 2000, Club Med’s strategic reposition was in place. It had a
strong financial structure, new management, and a new culture. By 2001,
revenues were up, its operating profit was higher, it had more guests, and
morale was terrific, Vanderslice said. Club Med was ready to launch its
major campaign in New York, "Wanna Play," on September 15, then the tragic
events of September 11 happened.

Club Med postponed the launch and wondered if its concept was out of sync
with the new reality. The "Wanna Play" concept had been planned as the theme to drive all other Club Med marketing programs. "Wanna Play" would encourage adults to add more pleasure to their lives, and involve their children in Club Med’s kids program.

"But most importantly, it was light-hearted and clear message to customers that Club Med cared about relationships," Vanderslice explained.

After President George W. Bush and New York City Mayor Rudy Guiliani
initiated the first baseball game of the World Series less than two weeks
later, Club Med decided the time was right to launch "Wanna Play."

"In difficult times, it’s more important than ever to identify and
strengthen your core values," Vanderslice noteed. "Short-term results should
not preclude long-term brand building."

To maintain the success of its rebranding, Club Med follows five principles.
(1) Successful branding efforts focus on building relationships.
That is why branding goes beyond advertising, which is a monologue. Branding
is a dialogue.
(2) Successful brands seize extraordinary opportunities created by social
and economic change.
(3) Successful branding efforts allow both personalization and economies of
(4) Brands, by their definition, are differentiated. They express attitude,
they tell stories, they resonate with consumers.
(5) To be personal, branding cannot be the same everywhere.
Club Med, which has 120 villages in 40 countries and five continents, is
pursuing a rebranding strategy that is geographically diversified,

Vanderslice said. Club Med uses the phrase, "global but local." Because
branding is about relationship building, the role of the culture is huge.
The same service or product may have different benefits to customers who live
in different cultures.

Vanderslice summarized Club Med’s rebranding philosophy in two words,
"roots and links." The company is rooted in its original concept, which are
the core values of freedom, creativity and spontaneity. Club Med also
supports strong links between its villages’ and their guests, which ensure
flexible responses to each guest experience and satisfaction.


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