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50 Leading Companies of the Year 2018

An Interview with Xavier Mufraggi, Club Med North American CEO: ‘We Specialise in Luxury All-inclusive Holidays with Absolutely No Hidden Costs’

thesiliconreview-xavier-mufraggi-ceo-club-med-18“Club Med operates more than 70 premium resorts in stunning locations around the world, including North and South America, the Caribbean, Asia, Africa, Europe and the Mediterranean.”

Technology’s effects on the travel industry are widespread, with innovation signaling the dawn of a new age of travel products and services after the birth of the Internet and modern communication systems. Not only has the industry itself benefited from recent technological advancements, but consumers have as well through the rise of countless ultra-modern services devoted to enhancing the customer experience from beginning to end.

In view of the above-mentioned scenario, we’re thrilled to present Club Med.

The company has perfect the formula to provide all-inclusive, unforgettable vacation experiences for families and couples in sports and activity-rich resorts, usually located by a pristine and exclusive beach or mountain areas (for ski/hiking). It also operates Club Med 2, an Exclusive Collection cruise ship, and a Villas and Chalets real estate ownership program. Club Med operates in more than 30 countries and has dozens of corporate offices overseeing varying business units.

The company was incorporated in 1950 and its North American/US headquarter is based in Miami, Florida.

Xavier Mufraggi, Club Med North American Business Unit CEO, spoke exclusively to The Silicon Review. Below is an excerpt.

What was the purpose of creating the company/why was it started?

Club Med was born out of the idea of creating happiness. Above all, it’s an extraordinary utopia from the vision of two men: Gilbert Trigano and Gérard Blitz. As the inventor of the ‘all-inclusive’ holiday concept, Club Med has been reinventing the alchemy of happiness since 1950.

“This idea gave birth to a spirit…our purpose in life is to be happy. The place to be happy is here. And the time to be happy is now.” These words of Gérard Blitz had a very special resonance in the post- World War II context. Freeing people from their day-to-day constraints in ways that enabled them to rediscover themselves, recharge their batteries and get back to basic pleasures: that was the genesis of Club Med.

As a true creator of happiness, Club Med invented a new form of shared experience and a unique style of holiday: all-inclusive vacations and resorts in the world’s most beautiful locations, where Gracious Members (GMs – the clients), can recharge their personal batteries through contact with nature, sports and like-minded people, served by Gracious Organizers (GOs – the Club Med team).

How has it evolved?

Faithful to our original vision, our company continues to drive innovation as part of constantly reinventing the alchemy of happiness. In 2004, we refocused its business on the upscale segment of the world tourism market to become the global specialist in friendly, upscale, multicultural all-inclusive vacations. The company also decided to really hone in on perfecting the family vacation model and target a new audience. In addition, we continually look at how to apply digital technology into our resorts to innovate the product and create a seamless experience for our guests.

Today, Club Med operates more than 70 premium resorts in stunning locations around the world including North and South America, Caribbean, Asia, Africa, Europe and the Mediterranean. More than two-thirds of the company’s offering fall within the four-star (or 4-Trident) and Exclusive Collection luxury level. The range also includes cruising on the 5-mast Club Med 2 sailing ship. The latest opportunity from this continually innovative company is the chance to buy Luxury Villas and Chalets alongside specific resorts.

Each Club Med resort features authentic local style and comfortably upscale accommodations, superior sports programming and activities, enriching children’s programs, gourmet dining, and warm and friendly service by its world-renown staff with legendary hospitality skills, an all-encompassing energy and diverse backgrounds. Club Med’s growth strategy also includes opening one new Alpine ski resort each year and opening or renovating five resorts per year.

On the technology side, our guests can enjoy a variety of programs new to the all-inclusive segment, including: Pick Your Room, a digital map that allows you to scope out the resort and pick the best room possible for your family; Easy Arrival, a program that digitally prepares your stay in advance, down to having a locker that holds your ski gear already prepared to your measurements or even pre-registering your kids into childcare upon arrival to a resort; Easy Check-Out, a program created to bypass the archaic check-out progress that will automatically make charges to your account and close out the account without having to stop by the front desk; RFID Resort Wristbands, a one-stop-shop for all your needs – our resorts offer you a streamlined, thin wristband that allows you to open your room door, make purchases, open your safe, and even store your photos from your vacation for easy viewing at the photo desk or online; Club Med App, specifically designed to provide you with all the information you need about your resort and your vacation, and allows you to house important information regarding your itinerary, reservations, etc.; 360-Degree VR Videos and Google Street View, which allows you view and experience a resort first-hand prior to even visiting to determine the proper resort for you and your family. These are just a few of the things we have implemented into our guest experience and are currently working toward the next wave of innovation.

How have your consumers changed over the years and how are you catering to their needs?

Approximately 15 years ago, Club Med made a huge shift in the core marketing and product strategy and the type of audiences it was designing experiences for. We moved from an adult-oriented atmosphere to create a family-friendly environment with rich experiences designed for multi-generational families to participate in activities together and apart appropriately. With this new target audience, we renovated many resorts to include family areas, family-style accommodations, and continues to offer the most robust children’s programming by age for any major resort company. The children’s clubs and activities are all included in the single price of booking a vacation, and the company has curated times for adults to relax and enjoy themselves while the kids enjoy the kid’s clubs, and then times for them to come together and share their day’s experiences.

Where do you see your industry headed and how is your company preparing for this?

The travel industry is one that follows major trends and continues to shift year after year. Lately, the industry has been seeing a spike in multi-generational travel as well as travelers seeking experiential vacations. Fortunately, experiential activities are built into Club Med’s DNA and, for a majority of them; they are included in the price of the vacation package. From swinging off the trapeze for the first time to discovering different cultures and heritage site or diving into an underwater world, guests at Club Med resorts are faced with endless opportunities and adventures. All they have to do is decide on which one they want to take on that day.

What has been a big asset or area of growth for your organization?

Club Med is well-known to the American audience for the beach resorts in the Caribbean and Mexico, but the company is equally a major player in the ski industry. As the leading worldwide ski operator, we feature more than 20 ski resorts located in the French, Italian and Swiss Alps, as well as China and Japan (a major hotspot recently). Over the past five years, Club Med’s ski business from Americans traveling to the Alps for ski vacations has more than quadrupled. Booking a ski vacation with the company proves to be of great value due to the all-inclusive nature of our packages, which include ski lift passes and ski/snowboard lessons.

Do you have any new products ready to be launched?

We are in the midst of launching one of the biggest, and most disruptive, projects for the North American sector: Club Med Michès Playa Esmeralda, the company’s first Exclusive Collection resort in the Americas, nestled in Michès, an untouched region of the Dominican Republic. Club Med will be the very first company to open a hospitality project in this region, about one and a half hours from Punta Cana (a destination that we also pioneered back in 1978).

Leadership | Club Med

The Founder of Club Med was Gerard Blitz, who founded the company after World War II approximately 69 years ago. Currently, the company’s global President is Henri Giscard D’Estaing, a graduate of the Paris Institute of Political Studies with a Master’s degree in Economic Sciences.

Club Med’s structure is divided by regional business unit, with the North American sector (including the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean) being led by Xavier Mufraggi.

Xavier Mufraggi is a dynamic professional with a strong, strategic marketing background in the food, consumer and hospitality industries.

Mr. Mufraggi holds a master’s degree in Business Management from the EDHEC Business School (Ecole des Hautes Etudes Commercials du Nord) in France, known as one of the top executive business and management training programs in Europe. He began his career in sales and marketing for Kraft Foods in Europe. After seven years with Kraft, Mr. Mufraggi joined Club Med in 2005.

“We moved from an adult-oriented atmosphere to creating a family-friendly environment with rich experiences designed for multi-generational families to participate in activities together and apart appropriately.”

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