With travel having been disrupted around the world over the past 12 months, and as tourists get ready to go again in 2021, Club Med is keen to be the first option for travelers by engaging them virtually.
Even though consumer travel is still some way off returning to pre-pandemic levels in 2021, French travel and tourism operator Club Med’s focus for the year has shifted to prepare for the rebound post-pandemic.
As travelers gets ready to dust off their luggage and holiday clothes, the Fosun Tourism Group-owned travel operator is working on engaging with its guests to stay top of mind.
These initiatives include travel vouchers and a travel content series, comprising a curated selection of digital content including local destination insights for keen learners, travel tips and advice to reach their potential, as well as features of go-getters within the organization and personalities who have been an inspiration.
Club Med is also partnering with Parkroyal Collection Marina Bay to bring its inaugural Body and Soul programming to Singapore as there are no Club Med resorts in the country.
“We aim to instill a new spirit of optimism in their guests, partners and local communities, helping to renew and ignite guests’ journeys to getting back to their best selves,” explains Vincent Ong, the senior vice president for commercial in Southeast Asia and marketing for Asia Pacific at Club Med.
“The partnership with the Pan Pacific Hotels Group (owners of Parkroyal Collection Marina Bay) marries the best of Club Med’s schedule of fitness classes and wellness workshops, with the hotel’s lifestyle offerings of farm-to-table experiences, spin studio and more. From yoga and barre, to urban farm tours, spin classes and zumba, and a farm-to-bar cocktail-making session – this is a wellness escape for those seeking an active staycation experience.”
Whilst both Club Med’s Maldives resorts and resorts with domestic markets have opened in China, Japan and Malaysia, it is hopeful that it can reopen all its resorts in APAC by the middle of 2021.
It is planning to open a new resort in China, the Club Med Lijiang, in the third quarter of 2021, while plans for Club Med Borneo Kota Kinabalu in Malaysia, scheduled to open in 2024, are under way.
The resort will be the first greenfield beach resort in South East Asia and will be the first beach resort Club Med has opened in the region in the past 10 years. It will have 400 rooms within its property, including 40 luxury suites for the Club Med Exclusive Collection space, with occupancy of 1038 guests in total.
The resort will also feature three restaurants, four pools, a spa, meetings and events spaces and a ballroom, as well as the first Club Med tennis academy in the Asia Pacific region.
After Singapore announced it is working on a tourism travel bubble with neighboring Batam and Bintan islands in Indonesia, Club Med is eager for the travel bubble to go ahead.
“Leisure travel corridors which enable safe travel to re-start are important to sustain livelihoods and to foster the physical, and more importantly, the mental wellbeing of a population. Governments and health authorities have experimented with imposing restrictions and enforcing protocols to keep society safe,” says Ong.
“As we see more relaxation of these restrictive policies, it is now time to also start experimenting with cross border safe passages. While arrivals from Singapore into Bintan made up over 550,000 in 2019, this is relatively small as compared to other destinations, with Singapore being a travel hub for the region.”
He continues: “After a year of border restrictions, while it would be a significant milestone for travel corridors to commence, it’s still ‘baby steps’ we take in the travel industry’s roadmap to recovery. Creating jobs and preserving the livelihoods of communities is a necessity. We can learn a lot about what it takes to open up safely and be a template for the region where so many economies and livelihoods depend so much on tourism.”
Ong predicts there will be a lot of pent-up demand once travel resumes, but is hopeful this pandemic will turn people’s attention to the wellbeing of our world.
He hopes it is through this crisis that responsible tourism will suffice and there will be a reinvention of travel, with consideration towards over-touristed destinations and “rubbish-strewn natural wonders”.
“The pandemic is a sanitary crisis. People have had to adopt new hygiene and cleanliness practices. Brands including hotels have similarly rolled out assurance programs to ensure a safer experience. Expect to see many of these practices and protocols to stay for the better as the expectations of people on a reasonable level of hygiene will remain post-pandemic,” Ong explains.
“A recent survey we conducted told us that the overwhelming reason for travel in SEA will be to reconnect with family and friends. Additionally, it will not be about checking off that list of dream destinations; what we will see is ‘spontaneous travel’ where there will be an all-out travel to any destinations which are ‘open’ or available and perceived as safer. Put both these elements together, it will be people reconnecting with others and making up for lost opportunities in sometimes unexpected surprising destinations.”
He adds: “Pursuing wellness and getting back to one’s best self would certainly be a reason for travel. We’re only human – after prolonged lockdowns or the situation of feeling ‘trapped’ within the borders, people need to renew and reset their physical and mental wellbeing.”