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Issue 2001-6 - Friday, April 6, 2001

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  Club Méditerranée French Web site: first results 9 months after the site started its e-commerce activities. Exclusive figures from BVA TFC research  

At the beginning of July 2000, Club Méditerranée finally decided to dedicate its Web site to online sales, with the ambitious objective that it would make 10 or 15% of its turnover online as soon as 2003.

At that time, Club Méditerranée clearly chose to take its time and observe the French eTourism market at long lengths, as it was convinced that its brand was so powerful that it could afford to do it.

Indeed, when compared to its main online competitors, whether they are direct or not (Promovacances, Nouvelles Frontières, Anyway, Travelprice, Degriftour, etc…), Club Mediterranée had and still has strong assets: a very famous e-brand, complete mastery of the products sold (this is a very important element as the market happens to be strongly conditioned by problematics of availability during the high season), as well as a very long experience gained in the United-States through a web site that was launched as soon as 1996.


This wait-and-see attitude appears to be rather commonly used, and big groups still use it today, as they prefer to invest only after market forecasts have been clarified. This is exactly what Auchan did in a completely different sector: the supermarket just opened its Web site, one year after Houra, ooshop, c-mescourses, etc…

9 months after Club Méditarranée opened its e-commerce Web site, I thought it might prove interesting to analyse the site's positioning in the e-tourism sector, which is a very disrupted one.

In order to do so, I based myself on the exclusive figures provided by BVA TFC Research, the subsidiary that was created jointly between the BVA Institute and eMarket Stratégies, which constituted the first behavioural panel on the French market with 18.000 active users who access the Internet both from work and from home. Unless otherwise specified, the figures displayed here only concern the month of March 2001.

What first strikes me is the fact that the site proves very stable as far as visitor coverage rate is concerned (this is the rate that corresponds to the number of people who visit the site compared to the global French Internet population) as this rate was 2.22% in March, 2.21% in February and 2.29% in January.

With this rate, Club Méditérannée ranks itself among the top ten French eTourism sites, or should we say the 10 Web sites that play in major league, but this rate still proves much lower than those of the leading French eTourism Web sites. This is how Travelprice displays a visitor coverage rate of 4.61% for March 2001 and 4.67% in February 2001.

Considering how stable this coverage rate happened to be for the first three months of this year, we could consider that this low rate of 2.2% translates Club Med's Internet brand effect.

It will prove interesting to analyse which effects the Club's new marketing initiatives had on its visitor coverage rate, just as Oyyo's recent launch, its site dedicated to a young public that the company strains to seduce.

If we take a closer look at the site's positioning, it proves interesting to note which are the sites users visit BEFORE they visit Club Med.

As could be predicted, the biggest portal sites and access providers appear to be Club Med's major upstream sites.

Wanadoo gets a tributary rate of 9.33% (this rate measures the importance of the stream of visits generated by Club Med Web site on the sites upstream from it, distant from one rank or more, in the users' surf sessions) and proves to be the most important tributary Web site for Club Med users.

Then, come more specialised news Web sites that usually do hold an interest for many users; this is the case for Boursorama, for instance, as it display a tributary rate of 2.77%.

With a tributary rate of 1.27%, Travelprice appears to be the first eTourism tributary site for Club Med Web site. Then comes Degriftour (with a tributary rate of 1.16%) and then comes Nouvelles Frontières (with a tributary rate of 0.97%).

These rather high figures clearly show that Club Med users have a mature Internet behaviour, which reinforces even more the competitive spirit that exists between Club Med and the other online travel agencies.

To prove it, we only need to analyse the number of pages viewed on Club Med by users who come from tributary sites.

Boursorama get an average of 6.78 pages viewed, but this figure jumps to 12.56 for users that come from Travelprice, and to 15.75 for those who come from Degrifour, and finally 15.25 for those who come from Nouvelles Frontières.

These figures mean that a new type of consumer is presently emerging in the eTourism sector, and this consumer no longer hesitate to inquire about all the offers that can be found on the different eTourism Web sites, or at least on the most famous ones.

In order to have a better understanding of the way users behave on Club Méditerranée Web site, let's have a look at what happens when consumers leave the site.

In the eTourism sites category, we get the major eTourism Web sites, but their downstream rates happen to be lower than their tributary rates (the downstream rate measures the importance of the stream of visits generated by Club Med on sites downstream from it, distant from one rank or more, in the users' surf sessions).

This is how Degriftour's downstream rate does not exceed 0.29%, when its tributary rate reaches 1.16%.

When we analyse these figures with caution, we would be tempted to think that users who wish to book a holiday would first tend to visit the site on which they think they might find a good bargain and only later would they go to Club Med Web site…if they have not yet found what they were looking for.

The proportion of users who visited Club Med Web site in March 2001 and also visited competitive Web sites confirm our analysis.

Once again, the figures we get are irrevocable: 27.61% of users who visited Club Med also visited Travelprice, 26.87% visited Lastminute Web site, 22.01% visited Nouvelles Frontières, and 10.07% visited Bourse-des-voyages.

Finally, only 33.21% of the users who visited Club Med Web site did not visit any competitive Web site in March 2001.

These figures prove that Club Med online position has become rather complex. On the one hand, we get a spontaneous visitor coverage rate that is rather important, when the biggest online travel agencies had to invest a great deal of money in marketing, and on the other hand we get a strong competitive pressure from the same Internet travel agencies.


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