Relais & Châteaux has launched a dedicated website for travel professionals. The new site was officially launched at ILTM Cannes, and has met with excellent feedback from the trade.
Arnaud Wielgus – Sales Director Operations & E-Business at Relais & Châteaux explains, “The agency is able to create an account, and to see all the different levels of commission they can obtain – by tariff and room type. Agents are able to create a quotation directly on the site, with their contact details on the form, and send this highly detailed document directly to their clients. There are descriptions of activities, services, access routes, and so on. These quotes can also be multi-property, including a full itinerary, including photos of the properties. Afterwards, the staff of the agency will be able to access all the quotations online with a dedicated search engine, by client name or quotation number. They can then validate the quotation once the client accepts it. We believe this will greatly assist the travel trade – especially travel agents – to optimise their conversion rates when they send proposals to their clients, thanks to the quality and detail of the quotations.”
Wielgus says after initial discussions with agents at ILTM, the feedback was already extremely good: “We are helping them bring high quality information to their clients. This comforts them in their role as advisors, or ‘travel designers’, and above all to makes their lives much, much simpler. Rather than cutting and pasting 25 photos and access maps into a new document, in just a few clicks they have the itinerary and quotation ready to present.”
Last year Relais et Châteaux announced the launch of a new public website, and this year the group has been further developing content, with a number of new “experiences”. Sections have also been added for people looking in offers and promotions, including news about events.
Meanwhile, the “buzz” at ILTM was also very much about Relais et Châteaux’s annual convention, which took place the previous week in Tokyo, especially as R&C is increasingly present in Asia.
The annual convention was the occasion for a conference on the influence of Japanese gastronomy around the world. “It was particularly interesting,” says Wielgus. “It’s true that Japanese cuisine influences chefs all around the world in the way they prepare food today. A number of chefs attended, including Pierre Gagnaire, Yannick Alléno, and Alexandre Gauthier. Olivier Roellinger was there as well, and gave an engaging speech about preserving the diversity of the cuisines of the world and the local producers, and especially to oppose the merger of Monsanto and Beyer, which we believe will create a great threat to diversity, and which will impose modes of consumption that are simply inacceptable.”
iPhone / iPad app for Chinese and Japanese travellers
Relais et Châteaux has also announced the iPhone / iPad application in Asia, which is reported to have been extremely successful when demonstrated in Japanese or Chinese. “We are increasingly present in these markets, and we are finding that there are more and more Japanese people that are connoisseurs of our brand, and love the “art de vivre” and “art de voyager” that is conveyed by Relais et Châteaux,” says Wielgus. “The concept of luxury meaning gold fittings in the bathroom and marble everywhere can become a little boring after a while. Today these people are seeking experiences and relationships with people… discussions not with a general manager but with the ‘maître de maison’, as equals, with fruitful discussions that are not in the form of client and seller.”