At Flywire, we have the opportunity to work with incredible clients in the travel industry. These are uncertain times for the world, but their resilience, innovation, and adaptability inspires us every day. We urge you to rebook your travel, instead of canceling your trip. Your continued commitment to the travel and tourism industry will help support countless people and communities, and ensure that when the world recovers, these operations still exist for you to enjoy. #postponedontcancel
Client Spotlight: Bordeaux Excellence
Bordeaux Excellence is a deluxe destination management company (DMC) based in Bordeaux, France. They’ve specialized in the Southwest of France for nearly 20 years - Bordeaux, Cognac, Dordogne, and La Rochelle. Over the years, they’ve established a network of local experts in different French wine regions to offer expertise in all of the country’s wine-producing regions. Their experience-oriented programs cater to for all types of clientele, including VIP experts for the individual traveler, MICE experts for incentive and corporate travel and events, and a cruise service that operates all land services for the major cruise lines and river cruise companies that stop in the region.
So pour yourself a nice glass of red and hear from Joelle Kolich-Brocas, Directrice Associée - FIT Luxe & MICE on what makes Bordeaux Excellence so excellent, and how they are responding to the COVID-19 restrictions on travel.
What makes Bordeaux Excellence unique in the space?
Our in-depth knowledge of our region and our unique network of contacts, especially in the wine industry, is what makes us very different from other on sites that offer the region of Bordeaux. We know all of our partners personally, and a lot of the time, they are our friends, be it a winemaker or a chef or a local artist.
We believe that travel is people meeting people – when guests go home, we know that they will remember most the people that they have had to opportunity to meet with and the insight into the real, local life.
I like to include in programs things that I do with my friends and family…places that I go on the weekend…I believe that this makes a real difference.
What’s the best feedback you’ve heard from your guests?
Bordeaux is famous for its wines – a lot of the time, guests have a wish list of famous wineries that they wish to discover. It is up to us to take that list and include the special requests but also add in some less well-known wineries - the ‘smaller’ producers that are the heart and soul of French wines…places where we know they will have a unique & authentic experience.
I love it when I hear back from guests that they are home and enjoying a glass of the wine from the producer that we were able to introduce them to and that they were able to discover how our ‘friends’ live…
Why did you get into the travel industry?
I studied tourism in college, so I have always wanted to work in the travel industry. It was always my intention to work for an incoming agency – France is such a beautiful country, and I have always wanted to be able to share this with people from all over the world.
I started my career as a travel advisor sending French people on holiday all over the world. After 4 or 5 years, I wanted to get back to my idea of incoming. So I quit my job as a travel advisor and started at the incoming agency, immediately realizing that this was exactly my idea of travel and tourism – sharing what I love with people from all over the world.
I am originally from the UK but always grew up with dual culture through my British mother and French father, which has always allowed me to have an open mind and understand how to adapt the French way of life & culture to visitors from all over the world.
Are you working on any new initiatives to attract and retain customers?
Up until now, we have been working on postponing trips from 2020 until any time before the end of 2021 without any additional charge.
This means liaising with our partners here on the ground on our side and the travel professionals that we work with also.
We are also working on informing the travel agents that we work with about the extraordinary measures being taken by the government to ensure that our business is not in danger.
We are really making a conscious effort to give all of our guests verified information – there is so much out there & a lot of incorrect news. It is important to give clients fact-checked information for them to make their own decision in terms of postponing or canceling their program.
In terms of new initiatives, we are thinking about how we can adapt our offer to the type of travel the client will be looking for next. Keeping in mind eco-friendly and sustainable sources, true meetings with the locals - pushing the ‘experience oriented’ programs to the next level. I truly believe that people will travel differently once this is all over and will be looking even more for a human connection.
What has been your communication with guests that have booked for the next few months?
We are offering the possibility to postpone with no additional fee for anytime in 2021 or even in 2022.
Are there any silver linings to this situation or projects you are working on that you haven’t had time for in the past?
I finally have time to look at working on my LinkedIn profile that was close to nonexistent until now.
On a more personal level, I have to admit that I have rarely been so fit thanks to a Pilates program every morning that I have meant to do for months, in fact, years!!!
And I am actually enjoying spending my time with my husband, who usually travels all week all year round. Thankfully I like him just as much when he is at home full time as when he is away!!!
In light of the pandemic, do you plan to invest in any new tools or resources to help recession-proof your business?
We have been considering investing in an itinerary creator tool – maybe not for right away, but I certainly have time to look at different options.
I am looking forward to finalizing our partnership with Flywire, too, as I do think that this will reassure clients going forward.
What ways are you keeping the staff connected during this time?
Thankfully we changed all of our systems to be cloud-based exactly one year ago, so when our offices closed on March 16th, it was easy for us all to switch to working from home.
Our wonderful teams have adapted perfectly and are being very professional at making sure the job gets done despite having to juggle with family life, which often includes homeschooling.
We have been using Microsoft Teams for a while now, so we do our conference & video calls using this – I keep in touch every week with the girls on my team who are all very anxious to get back to work full time.
I do think that the working from home experience will allow us to have some staff members work remotely part-time…it has definitely been a very interesting experience for us all!!!
Once the world returns to normal, what are you most looking forward to?
I think that if this ‘lockdown’ experience has taught us anything, it is to appreciate the simple pleasures of life and to spend time with the people who are important to us.
I think the first thing we will do is go to the Cap Ferret on the Atlantic coast to enjoy the sea air and have some oysters with a glass of white wine!!!
We are also looking forward to seeing our friends and loved ones, going to the Farmer’s market on Sunday morning...the simple pleasures. I will certainly be more attentive from now on to spending time with the people I love rather than ‘just sending one last email…’
If you’d like to learn more about Bordeaux Excellence, book your post-pandemic travel, or get lost on a virtual escape, please explore https://www.bordeauxexcellence.com/