Update on the family group based in Burgundy
Two years ago, Voyages Girardot celebrated with great fanfare the 100th anniversary of the Group, based in Chalon-sur-Saône. Hardly had time to blow out all the candles when the pandemic hit this family business head-on, whose green and black coaches criss-cross France and Europe. So how did the Group, led by the three brothers Pascal, Philippe and Christophe Girardot, weather the crisis? We checked in with them.
Christophe, Philippe and Pascal Girardot lead the family group based in Burgundy – DR: AB
Vigilance remains essential for the Voyages Girardot Group.
After two years spent adapting to resist the health crisis and its economic and social consequences, the Burgundy company based in Chalon-sur-Saône is not yet claiming victory.
” Our goal in 2022 is to achieve 70% of the turnover of N-3, but we are not sure of achieving it », explains, with caution, Pascal Girardot, the general manager of Selectour Voyages Girardot.
Everything will depend on the results of the summer and autumn.
It must be said that the return to normal, although in progress, is not planned for immediately. ” Our production has been frozen for almost two years », continues Pascal Girardot.
Direct consequence: we have not reissued a paper brochure, our production is now 100% digital and totally bookable online, which allows our customers, depending on the reopening of borders, to be able to go back to destinations open to marketing “.
Although the Voyages Girardot site has been a merchant for 12 years, with the pandemic, the emphasis has been placed on digital production, with a strengthening of marketing, an increased presence on social networks and the sending of newsletters.
” We have developed our website and our online sales consistently. Internally, we have also set up the MCTO with our production to the agencies, i.e. the sending of the accounting message to the agency at the end of a sale made on our in-house production, this which allows us to retrieve the accounting data of a sale. An immediate productivity gain for agencies “, adds the general manager.
Demand picks up again in France and Europe
He also developed his travel program design tool. ” We have lightened the path between the blank page on which we begin a journey and the last step which consists of having a program that is sellable, clickable and directly purchasable.
These two years have been a godsend for reopening construction sites that have been somewhat forgotten or put away”, comments Pascal Girardot, citing for example, the possibility for customers to now be able to print in PDF the details of the programs available online.
READ ALSO: Pascal Girardot (Girardot Voyages): “Nothing is permanent, except change… this motto is my fuel!”
Today, despite an obvious recovery in travel, at Voyages Girardot, we are not yet at levels equivalent to 2019. “ The Mediterranean basin is doing very well, especially Spain, Portugal, Greece, Italy, Corsica, which is not the case for Morocco and Tunisia.
In general, the medium-haul is much better distributed than the long-haul, where it is still quite complicated to go to Asia and where the health pass is still requested for destinations like the United States, “adds Pascal Girardot.
With Europe, France is primarily sold by the Group Burgundy – in agencies, via its production department but also its receptive brand Welcome to Burgundy – ” given that it is not far, not expensive and that there are not too many health constraints, no plane to take, no major risks », Comments Pascal Girardot. Circuits, rentals, maxi weekends are the most popular formulas.
Added to this are cruises, whether river or sea. ” We noticed a real desire to leave on the part of our customers, from last fallwhatever the travel formula », specifies Pascal Girardot, whose Group has already organized 4 cruise operations with between 30 and 80 people on board.
Two agencies closed in Dijon and Châlon
The fears are now focused on the summer, between the announcements of flight cancellations by the airlines, the strikes in the airports and the lack of personnel among the Cabin Crew Members and the airport staff.
” For now, nothing has been decided, but we are monitoring the situation closely. Especially on the side of low cost companies, which very often serve destinations for which there are no other companies positioned… We therefore hope that the scheduled flights will be maintained and that at worst, we will be warned well in advance. upstream to be able to protect our customers again, because companies today have no plan B!
We have the same fears for all pre-routings to long-haul flights,” says Pascal Girardot.
Enough to suggest more intense activity in the Group’s agencies this summer…
Points of sale that have all reopened except for two agencies in Dijon and Chalon-sur-Saône, which have been closed. ” There were at least two branches in these cities, so we decided to group the teams and transfer the client files to a single branch each time.
This allowed us to maintain the workforce, without losing too many customers since we are still present in these cities,” explains Pascal Girardot.
Currently, the teams are still partly in APLD. In two years, the Girardot Group has lost around 10% of its employees overall, some of whom have left for professional retraining. Others are sick.
” We are therefore recruiting in certain departments – production, sales, reception/reservation – but it’s very complicated, especially since the job is not simple, there are few candidates and fewer students, the Tourism BTS having been more or less impacted in terms of training », Analyzes the general manager.
“Without the aid, we would not be here today”
The same problem arises in the transport branch. ” Since March, there are a big demand on private transporti.e. the rental of “dry” coaches, but we are not able to ensure all requestsbeing faced with a coach driver recruitment problem “, explains Philippe Girardot, the director of the Transport branch.
” We did not reduce our fleet during the pandemic, but some of our drivers went into early retirement or into road transport. We can therefore only work at 80% of our capacity on average. Added to this is the loss of other operators as well as a lack of vehicles on the market… »
For the Transport branch of the Girardot Group, which is separate from the Travel branch, the years of crisis have generated a dead loss in the accounts. ” Our last two financial years have been in deficit, because if we were able to benefit from partial unemployment, this was not the case for the other aids – our turnover being divided almost equally between public passenger transport and occasional transport , he did not reach the thresholds which gave entitlement to this aid, despite the fact that we were in the S1 and S1 Bis sector.
We therefore had to tap into our reserves adds Philippe Girardot.
Fortunately, ” the company is healthy, and the cash flow was quite honorable before the pandemic », adds Pascal Girardot, we did not have to do any PGE.
However, the helpers helped us a lot, without them, we would not be here today, very clearly. If the government decides to bring aid up to date, we will also appreciate it because today the charges remain as before, but without the volume.
“If we don’t, we lose and if we do, we risk losing on the margin”
The restart, as we can see, is not done smoothly. Because after the very “hot” summer that is coming, fall could be just as complicated.
” In production, we work a lot on the beginning of the season or the late season, which is an additional activity for our hotel partners, but for now, some are unable to commit for the fall.
It will depend on the summer season: if they have worked hard enough this summer and reservations arrive until late enough in the season, they will open a little later.
But everything will depend on demand and their ability to accommodate customers, because of the lack of staff, explains Pascal Girardot.
We are having difficulty obtaining confirmation from hoteliers that they will be open until November, especially the catering part. Ditto for 2023, when we already have requests from our customers…”
So what to do? Release a production without knowing the opening dates yet? ” Sometimes we do it, crossing our fingers, telling ourselves that we will find a hotel, but in other cases, we don’t even know the prices – yet we are certain that they have increased everywhere!
But if we don’t, we lose and if we do, we risk losing on the margin. It’s a totally grotesque situation.” And to cite as an example, the Carnival of Nice, for which customers are starting to want to position themselves, while the hotel has not yet communicated its prices…
” It’s the same problem with the air. Today, we don’t know how much a plane ticket will cost for next year! Surcharges are coming and, at the same time, our customers are in the same kind of situation: the cost of living has increased and in the fall, this will be noticeable, some of our customers are waiting “, continues Pascal Girardot.
In this context is added another fact: the loss of some of the oldest customers.
” In this complicated period, some of our customers realized that they were much too old to travel. We therefore lost customers more quickly who, year after year, signed up without asking any questions, even as they got older.
With two years off, these are approximately 15% of our customers who have told us that they are no longer able to leaveespecially on long trips.
But, more than a century after its creation, Voyages Girardot continues to roll up its sleeves and face challenges!