Is High-End Tourism Promising ?

Is high-end tourism in Martinique promising? The Article is written by VEILLE TOURISME ANTILLES, Special thanks to Madly SCHENIN-KING for her decisive contribution to our understanding of Martinique tourism and its areas of progress. About forty people gathered on Thursday, July 4, 2019 at the Hotel Simon in Fort-de-France to attend the round-table discussion entitled « Is high-end tourism promising in Martinique? ». The event was organized by the company MAJORINE, which publishes Veille Tourisme Antilles.

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The evening started a little after 6pm with a presentation of the hotel by its director Tidiane Camara.

After a few minutes, the participants went upstairs in small groups to enjoy a tour of the facility by the facility staff.

They were able to discover the restaurant area, the meeting rooms and the apartment located on the 7th floor.

High-end is not luxury

From the beginning, the tone was set with the question: « Is there a difference between high-end and luxury? If so, what is it? ».

On this subject, the three speakers present – Frédérique Dispagne, former director of the Coq Hôtel**** in Paris; Gilles Duplan, manager of La Suite Villa***** in Les Trois-Ilets and Douglas Rapier, manager of Douglas Yacht Services in Le Marin – were unanimous: although they share common characteristics, high-end and luxury are not synonymous.

The terms refer to products and services designed for a clientele with high purchasing power.

Both require a high quality of service, a keen sense of attention and detail, and a certain adaptability on the part of professionals in order to satisfy travelers.

However, while luxury is exceptional, the high-end remains more accessible. A night at La Suite Villa costs about 400€ compared to several thousand euros in the most luxurious hotels in Saint Barths for example.

So Martinique has an upscale but not luxurious tourist offer, but is there a clientele for these products?

Few metrics exist. To our knowledge, there is no specific study on this segment in Martinique.

It is known that travelers visiting the island have an average monthly income per household between 2100 and 6000€.

However, these figures could hide disparities since Douglas Rapier’s company maintains boats with a value ranging from 150,000 to several million euros.

Attracting and retaining affluent customers: thinking about the entire tourism value chain

The speakers at this roundtable on high-end tourism stressed the need for Martinique to strengthen its reputation and image internationally.

Travellers choose a vacation destination before deciding on a hotel, no matter how well ranked it may be. «

The attractiveness of Martinique is the first filter, » said Frédérique Dispagne. « A broker explained to me that his client, a yacht owner, wanted to be parked in Martinique, » explained Douglas Rapier, « but the client did not know where the island was ».

The role of the bodies in charge of promoting the destination is therefore fundamental.

Once captured, it is also necessary to work on the entire value chain.

More simply: make sure that each service is at the same level as the previous one and that all the conditions are met so that the tourist is satisfied and spends.

This is why, when designing the program for this conference, we felt it was appropriate to invite representatives from different sectors: accommodation, concierge services*, and ancillary services.

Others could also have been included: transportation, recreation or catering. « None of the links in the tourism chain should fail, » emphasized Gilles Duplan, « at the hotel, we make a special effort to welcome guests.

Douglas Rapier’s experience also proved interesting since a large majority of his clients come to Martinique to refuel but do not stay more than a few hours on site (when they disembark!).

According to the yacht specialist, the reason for this is the local nightlife, which is not very lively, and the absence of an emblematic place where the local culture would be highlighted.

Result: the crews would be bored. « They want to see how dominoes are played, eat typical products and party in the evening.

These are all missing steps in the journey of the traveler. One of the participants, Océane Provost, suggested that the professionals should form an association in order to better mark out the tourist’s stay and communicate about the top-of-the-range offer.

Martinique also has an asset according to Douglas Rapier: it is considered safer than other Caribbean islands by travelers.

Human resources management is a challenge

In the tourism development of the destination, training and talent retention are key.

Students tend to leave to pursue more prestigious careers outside local borders.

Professionals are forced to look for resources elsewhere and these sometimes have difficulty adapting. As a result, tourism stakeholders are constantly on the alert.

« The problem is not unique to Martinique, » said Frédérique Dispagne, « the hotel and restaurant industry, in particular, offers harsh working conditions and low wages.

Gilles Duplan of La Suite Villa, hammered that it was necessary to encourage the teams « although we can never do enough », he added teasingly.

When asked by a participant, the director admitted that he regretted not having enough Martinican staff.

However, the picture is not all black and white since, according to Douglas Rapier, boss of Douglas Yacht Services, the island’s skills in boat maintenance and repair are appreciated and recognized by yacht owners, their crews and professionals in the nautical industry. In fact, he is convinced that there are jobs to be created in this field.

The top of the range: a market where you have to make your mark

So, is the top end of the market promising in Martinique? Difficult to answer in an hour and a half, but « we have real potential », answered the speakers.

It’s up to us to be convinced. But it takes work, consistency, the ability to adapt to the demands and of course, a marketing effort. « We have to win the trust of our customers, » smiled Douglas Rapier.

Projects must be encouraged in order to renew the offer, but investors would be cautious. « I personally know several projects that have been abandoned due to administrative delays, » regretted Gilles Duplan.

He himself indicated that seven years went by between the idea of creating La Suite Villa and the reception of the first clients. The evening ended with a moment of networking around a cocktail.

Thanks to all the participants and see you soon!

*Jean-Pascal Pronzola of Ivory Concierge had an unforeseen event and apologized.


Physical Tourism, Digital Tourism

On May 28, 2019, we shared our vision of the digitalization of tourism with Martinique’s hoteliers and tourism stakeholders, including the ZILEA cluster and the MAJORINE agency. How can we take advantage of the digital transition in the tourism sector, more specifically the hotel sector? The objectives of the conference were to understand the evolution and digital reality of the tourism sector, to introduce ZILEA’s digital vision and to present the CARITEL company and its solutions.

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Tourism actors present :


Philippe LECUYER






Frédérique DISPAGNE

Stéphane BAUCHE

Charles de REYNAL


Sandy GELY





Guillaume DORN


Christine MONGIN


Sébastien GINTZ







Intervention of Madly SHENIN KING, MAJORINE – The digitalization of the customer journey in tourism

Digital is at the heart of the customer experience. Madly » sees the tourism sector as the laggard in the digital transformation. « She starts with a quick survey of the public: Who has conducted or is currently conducting a reflection on the customer experience in their establishment?

40% of tourism professionals believe they have already taken this step (8 out of 20 concerned).

LE BAMBOU shares this approach. For the past two years, it has been deploying a process of personalization of the stay, for a unique and dedicated hotel experience. The implementation of digital tools has been necessary to match its vision.

The BAMBOU Hotel shares its three personalized stages of questioning:

The Pre-Stay: Before the client’s stay at the establishment.

The Mid-Stay (or In-Stay): During the client’s stay.

The Post-Stay: After the client’s stay.

Concerning the Pre-Stay: 60% of the clients answer the Pre-Stay, in the name of the hotel manager and accompanied by a mini-form, whose questions can be: « Have you ever been to Martinique? Would you like to reserve your restaurant in advance?… ».

The BAMBOO’s commitment consists in answering systematically to specific requests of room typology (for example Twin or Grand lit), according to its availability.

On arrival, the indications of the customer are already reported by the reception in the P.M.S (Property Management System), taken into account and determined in instruction. The method allows to avoid beforehand a disappointment or a conflict during the Check-In.

« When we couldn’t, we can justify it right away. « explains Sandy GELY from BAMBOO.

For the Mid-Stay, it is essential to be human to be successful. During the stay, the staff ask about customer satisfaction, for example, whether they slept well.

Some customers can stay 10 days without complaining and leave an extremely negative opinion on social networks.

But during the stay, « something can be done right away ». Sandy adds: « On digital media, we have few respondents to this questionnaire during the stay. Guests are not necessarily connected while on vacation. »

During the Post-Stay, sent following the stay of the BAMBOO’s customers, the excellent news is that 90% of the customers answer it.

More customers like to comment on the pluses and minuses. « It is very rare to have notes on the fly. Customers go into detail. »

From this Post-Stay questionnaire, guests are surprised that the hotel considers their expectations mentioned in the Pre-Stay questionnaire.

Since the implementation of this satisfaction monitoring policy, BAMBOO customers leave less and less negative comments about Trip Advisor and more generally about the traveler networks.

« Direct questioning allows us to keep a link, a follow-up, whereas on Trip Advisor, we answer but often blindly, because we don’t always know who is writing the review. ».

For the BAMBOO, in addition to guest satisfaction which is its fundamental basis, the objective is to sell at all times.

During the Pre-Stay sent 7 days before arrival, the anticipation of needs often materializes by upsell: early sale of a bottle of champagne, a transfer, a bouquet of flowers.

Also during the stay, the proposals of enhancement of the offer are indicated to finalize in additional sale. « If I go to a hotel, I have to break down at any time. « It’s the game, » concludes Sandy.

Madly questions « the concrete implementation of tools within the establishment ». The Village Vacances VILLAGE DE LA POINTE talks about its new in-house software, recently acquired to centralize customer information.

Guillaume DORN, communication manager and Denis ROSE ROSETTE, general manager, have decided to change their management software (P.M.S) to facilitate their navigation.

Internally, a need for time saving and connectivity with their Revenue Management System (R.M.S.) was imposed to the VILLAGE DE LA POINTE.

Optimizing and automating their yield, i.e. the daily pricing (public or preferential rates) of villas, cottages and apartments, is an emergency.

« To make yield and offer the best rates in real time, you need gateways. We don’t have this possibility with our current P.M.S. For the staff, the reporting features, the intuitive nature of the software’s steps make our reception work easier, digitalize it and make it more efficient. For an equivalent cost, we benefit from superior quality. »

« Externally, we want to communicate with our customers through digital signage screens and stop the archaic paper display system. »

The Customer Journey, extremely fragmented in time (chronology of booking) and space (the fragmentation and diversity of the media), is the set of stages carried out by a traveler between the desire to travel and the return home.

Madly explains: « Hotels are equipping themselves with tools without necessarily putting the guest at the center of the strategy. But the needs of the consumers evolve, the sector is brought to adapt them, to better anticipate them. »

The 5 Steps of the Guest’s Path

1. Aspiration to travel: At this stage of the choice, « We don’t have a clear idea of where we want to go ». The image and the notoriety of the destination are central. Destination marketing is the initial work of public policy and promotion of the destination. In terms of referencing, an effort is also expected from the tourism authorities: « Where to go in December with the family? « on Google. A real flaw for the destination Martinique in lack of regular renewal of content. In addition, it is desirable to highlight the inhabitants: photos and videos reflect the beauty of the seaside, but not enough about its population, its inhabitants, its reality. Martinique is not a desert island. Master word : Notoriety.

2. Decision making: The research is more refined. In 2015, a French traveler visited 8 sites before making his choice. In 2019, 15 sites are visited before the purchase conversion. For a French person, 55.8 days elapse between the decision to travel and the purchase of the ticket. Travel intentions start well in advance. The stakes are considerable for professionals. For an American traveler, 250 points of contact are consulted before making a choice. Here, a deep work of image renewal is expected: cultural tourism, gastronomic tourism, and the referencing of this tourism. If we make the test of typing in google « Martinique Gastronomy » or « Martinique Tourisme Vert » the imagery is not necessarily up to the ambitions of differentiation. Master words: Referencing, Personalization.

3. Preparation: In terms of preparation, the mobile medium is experiencing the strongest growth. The pre-stay is globally highly digitized. Key words: Acquisition, Singularity, Reactivity.

4. The stay: 80% of reservations for tourist activities are made during the stay. Digitization falls during this stage. Key words: Personalization, Quality of service.

5. The post stay: It is quite neglected by professionals, yet the moment is crucial to make the traveler an ambassador or a detractor of the destination. Key word: Loyalty.

In summary, the traveler :

Uses several screens

Through different channels

Conducts research at various times

Is inclined to converse with companies

Provided that they offer relevant content

Oscillates between autonomy and the need for assistance

Consume the destination live by sharing your opinion on social networks

A few issues for tourism actors:

What Digital Enables

Result for the Traveler

Know the traveler’s intentions and needs

Collection of data

Content, personalized service offers

Send the right message at the right time

Geolocation, real time, Interactivity

Contextualized information, Improved communication

Offer / promote a frictionless global experience

Dematerialization, Automation, Centralized management. Immediacy.

Time saving, Convenience, 24/7 service

Measure performance

Measurement of the ROI of actions taken

Measuring traveler satisfaction

The goal is not to create new digital tools, but to make them more fluid, more immediate, more uniform.

Madly advocates attention to sites such as Trip Advisor (relay of certificates of excellence, satisfaction measurements), the administration of satisfaction questionnaires and customer surveys.

The Post-Stay moment is clearly overlooked, as it is intended for minimal feedback, without really requiring sincere news from the guest.

Concrete examples :

  • A contactless experience Aruba Airport: Close to Martinique, near Curacao. First autonomous « Aruba Happy Flow » kiosk system. Objective: to facilitate the flow of passengers at the airport. Passengers’ biometric data is collected only once at check-in. Thanks to facial recognition cameras installed at the Passenger Touch Points, passengers are identified at each stage of the journey to the aircraft without having to show their ID three times. Since its launch in 2017, more than 130,000 passengers from 33 countries have passed through the system. This is not the prerogative of large countries, with clear tourism objectives.
  • In the field of cruises, MSC brings individualization on gigantic ships. More than 4,000 sensors are strategically placed at all points on the ship, capable of geo-locating to within one meter. MSC has decided to create the world’s first virtual cruise personal assistant: ZOE. Able to answer more than 800 questions, it is constantly being enriched. The aim is to personalize the service for the thousands of people on board, with different topics and concerns.
  • Dematerialize processes: At Melia Hotels & Resorts, a connected bracelet to open the door to one’s room, pay for services (extras such as SPA), make purchases in shops close to the hotel (e.g. Mango store nearby), manage the spending limit set by parents.

« How do you integrate these changes into the management of your business?  « Madly asks about the feedback on customization and immediacy.

Valérie VULCAIN, Commercial Director of the Hotel LA PAGERIE explains her approach. At the level of the customer connection, first the human, then the digital. « The direct human relationship predominates, with regular event planning » explains Valérie. Namely by :

  • A welcome cocktail with the customers to help them in the choices in their excursions.
  • A satisfaction survey in paper form, which remains the best support for a part of their customers. Returns are systematically analyzed, reported and resolved as much as possible.

At the digital level, the establishment is working on a new platform to assist them in this direction. Valérie « considers herself for the moment halfway between paper and digital. « Valérie has decided to move from paper to digital in order to adapt to her current clientele.

What are the plans for the MARTINIQUE Tourism Cluster? – Speech Philippe LECUYER, President ZILEA

Presentation of the Tourism Cluster

Originally, Ziléa was a club of hoteliers. It has recently opened up to the entire tourism industry. The common objective is to speak unanimously about the global issues of the tourism industry, with exchanges that are more powerful than those they could have had.

This cluster is a business cluster of 87 members, mainly hoteliers (29 members represent 74% of the total capacity).

Since 2007, a relatively reliable observatory on a monitored panel shows the performance of hotels and more generally tourism in MARTINIQUE (Occupancy Rate, Average Price, RevPac).

Hotels, of course, but now also professional furnished rental companies, travel agencies, car rental agencies, the SAMAC airport platform, members of the spiri-tourism industry, bus carriers, cabs, VTC).

As a member of the CMT, ZILEA tries to act at the level of this body (21 political elected officials and 7 socio-professionals also political, therefore ZILEA still holds a relatively weak position).

The watchword is « Let’s get together, let’s look for sources of financing to initiate a strategy, let’s find tourist resources in the middle and low season within the framework of a transparent governance. »

5 commissions are part of ZILEA’s calendar:

  • Communication Commission (Animation of members like this one)
  • Training and Human Resources Commission (Social Audit i.e. why are Martinican hoteliers impacted by 17 additional payroll points compared to France? Federating efforts for training with the ESF. Thematic workshops on specific subjects: for example, repetition of sick leave, how to limit it?
  • Digital Innovation Commission
  • Marketing Commission: deals mainly with extra performance,
  • ZILEA wishes to expand its Observatory to provide a more detailed analysis of the health of the sector.

Few figures for 2018:

1,045,735 tourists visited Martinique in 2018.

Since 2013 + 70% thanks to cruises.

451 Million Euros in revenue.

Origin Nationalities: 80% from France, 20% domestic tourism (the remainder is scattered in North America and other countries)

Martinique remains mediocre at welcoming Americans, with a few more Canadians at Club Med, prepared to welcome them.

The destination is characterized by extreme seasonality from the Easter vacations to the All Saints’ Day vacation, for the low season, with a peak in July-August of West Indians living in the hexagon. Competition from the Maghreb is strong.

The Cluster has initiated a reflection on the E-Zilea application project. Pooling the needs between tourism players by federating customer data is the major asset of the process.

For example, a car rental company can offer Kayak or Kite surfing, accommodation, and praise the merits of the destination as a whole.

Tourists get off the plane at the same time. « Let’s imagine a Coupe queue process for already identified customers and a quick pick up when getting off the plane, as Digicel does on the cell phone: Welcome to Martinique. »

ZILEA can offer them an application to collect information about Martinique. « During the trip, we noticed that the Habitation Clément is nearby, but they are members of the association who are able to make discounts, » explains Philippe LECUYER.

E-ZILEA Application Project – Kery RABATHALY, Associate Consultant, CAYRIBE CONSULTING

The solutions

  • Improve the tourist experience by accompanying the visitor (via virtual assistance) in the organization of his stay in Martinique.
  • Real-time search and booking
  • Personalized proposals according to the traveler’s interests and family composition
  • Suggestions of tourist products according to the profile.
  • Control and optimize the expectations of tourists at points of interest
  • Waiting and cutting wire system
  • Preservation of products (e.g. vehicle contract to be filled out online)
  • Bringing tourists during the low season
  • Power to address potential tourists even outside the territory
  • Collecting travel information

Digital Concierge Service

Still at the analysis and design stage, the application will be aimed at the end customer, with a back office part on the users.

Kery recalls that « CMT is intended to animate the destination, be present in the digital strategy to improve the customer experience and support the destination component. »

Madly evokes the concrete example of the Val Thorens destination around skiing. Most of the actors of this ski destination have centralized their database, carried out together e-mailing campaigns, created in coordination of the ski passes valid on the providers of the territory.

Considering the constraints of the Madly bounced territory, « are the actors of the Martinique destination OK to share their data? »

 « One of the challenges, Kery says, is collaboration. At ZILEA, concrete collaborations already exist for marketing campaigns, training budgets, collective projects operate within a framework of light involvement and cost federation.

There is strong support until « we talk about sharing and database management, » adds Kery.

Getting companies to understand that sharing the database is an asset for the company and not a waste has not yet won over their minds.

« The players are not yet at the same level. Sharing a database is not opening your company to ZILEA or others. »

BAMBOO suggests working directly with the Tour Operators and the OTAS, who are the real holders of a major part of the Database. « We don’t have the data from the OTAS or the TOs. We don’t know who they are, they don’t play the game. We don’t know who they are, they’re not playing the game, » says Sandy. If the proportion of Tour Operators is declining, it is still very present in Martinique.

She adds that Martinique Tour does the equivalent in less global and that for a global adhesion of the actors that the actors adhere it is not necessary to know who comes from where.

E-ZILEA will be a resolutely practical and easy application for tourists :

  • Fluid
  • Reduced waiting time
  • Clearly identified need
  • Appropriate response

A tourist is equivalent to a well-identified request.

A digital tool for the customer experience: your TV – Frédérique DISPAGNE, Business Engineer CARITEL

The CARITEL company was born in 1977. Its core business, as a LOCATEL franchisee, has long been and remains the rental of television sets in the Hospitality.

What is the customer experience statistically? What do studies say about their expectations? We have taken as a basis a study by the firm PHOCUSWRIGHT commissioned by ORACLE.

The sample consists of 2500 American and European customers.

When the client goes back to his room, the statistics show a strong expectation of the prerequisites, with the top 5 criteria of :

  • Cleanliness
  • Location
  • Customer Service
  • Ease of Check in and Check out.

If technology is not the primary expectation of the customers surveyed, 60% of respondents (i.e. 2/3), give it a direct sensitivity. Hoteliers can no longer neglect technology in their establishment on these issues.

Of those 2/3 of guests who expect technology in the rooms, expectations are divided between

  • 45% choose their room
  • 41% discover the activities of the destination
  • 39% check in and check out
  • 36% make additional requests
  • 33% have entertainment in the room
  • 26% benefit from customer service
  • 23% benefit from room service
  • 16% communicate with each other
  • 13% find out about hotel bars or restaurants

« The customer experience is in essence information and ease, which is all the added value of the hotel industry compared to its direct competitors. »

The customer experience is a resource for the establishment in terms of satisfaction, therefore e-reputation and additional sales.

To date the millenial customer no longer or rarely watches TV, he arrives with his smartphone, and looks for devices to broadcast the content of his devices.

CARITEL’s TV set is not a vector of content for international channels. « It is a global information medium that allows you to interact with your client in the room at all times, when their attention is captive and available. »

With its welcome channel, its captive portal and its interface to communicate regularly with the client, you will consider TV CARITEL as a reactive, complete and up to date concierge.

The functionalities of CARITEL HOSPITALITY are as follows:

TV Management System Control (Sound volume at certain times of the day, menu lock to prevent TVs from being out of adjustment).

Bank of differentiated channels to facilitate customer navigation.

A personalized interface connected to the P.M.S. (welcome message on arrival, invoice on screen on departure)

The financing of TV by advertisers in the hotel sector ) Charles de REYNAL, Chargé d’affaires REGIDOM

Some advertisers wish to be relayed by your media (TV and screens in your living spaces). Why not benefit from a paper to digital transition thanks to our solution?

The demonstration ended with Stéphane BAUCHE, CARITEL Project Manager, with a demonstration of FLIP and digital signage, other CARITEL solutions.