Today we have the pleasure of receiving the founder of “Maison de la Chine” (FYI translation : the House of China), Patricia Tartour who shares her entrepreneurial experience and her insights about China.
1-Can you introduce yourself?
With my degree in history and geography, I discovered the Middle Kingdom in October 1975. I had just started to participate in trips as a guide and at that time I went with a select few to China. The Beijing I discovered at that time was a whole different world. The streets are very wide and completely deserted. Giant portraits of Stalin, Marx, Engels, Lenin and Sun Yat Sen are aligned at the back of Tiananmen Square, the largest in the world. And yet I instantly fell in love with the place. I spent the following years to travel across the country and explore it in depth. I eventually used my experience of the country to build what would become La Maison de la Chine in 1991. Today I am still the CEO of this company and involvement in various projects such as renovating emblematic sites, building of the “Quai Branly” Museum or being the first tourism agency to sign an agreement with UNESCO about sustainable tourism.
2-Can you present your company.
After participating in World Travelers development as a partner, I created the group “Maison de la Chine et de l’Orient.
- Creation of the House of China in 1991
- 1992 The House of Indochina
- 1993 The House of India and the House of Orientalists
- 1998 The House of the Americas
- 2012 launch wiknd.com dedicated to short exceptional stays
- 2013 launch Fazhongzhijia and creation of a portal site Lesmaisonsduvoyage.com (“House of travels”our umbrella brand)
We are targeting customers looking for a customized trip. We provide customized tours for a wide range of customer from individuals to small groups or corporate trips. Nowadays we have more than 14000 people a year and a 40 million euros turnover.
We currently have 105 employees in our group
3- What house meets the biggest success with the French?
It’s always and has always been The House of China. Historically it is where it all started. Today it is the biggest agency of the group, amounting for 18% of our global turnover
4-How did you create your company? Can you explain the idea behind the company?
1991, The house of China was founded by a small team of four people, Joséfa Casado, Christel Chabaud et Christel Choupot and me. We were more concerned about sharing experiences and our passions rather than observing the usual rules of marketing. At the time, our written media was not like the usual models with an important place for pictures, including big names such as Marc Riboud (Note: French Photographer well known for his reports and photos about the East, especially China).
Other houses were the result of meetings, opportunities that we have been able to seize and grow.
We have suffered several crises, from political constraints to weather changes, but we always went back on our feet, thanks precisely to this destination diversity and the effort of all of our dedicated staff.
5-Why did you decide to create your own travel company?
I wanted to develop a new style of travel agencies based on a welcoming place entirely about travel with the destination experts willing to share their passion, cultural activities about travel. We want to ensure that our customers no longer think about travel as a moment in their life but a much anticipated and lasting moment via our various tour packages.
6-How do the house of travels stands out from its competitors?
Our agency is characterized by expert teams. Our travel consultants and our production teams have have had first-hand experiences to become specialist of the destination they promote.
The second important feature is the offer to the traveler. It includes before and after traveling services through conferences, exhibitions, meetings with authors, we are the first to have proposed this concept to our different brands.
7-Can you tell us more about your entity in China, Fazhongzhijia, tailored for Chinese tourists?
Fazhongzhijia was launched in Beijing in April 2013 to offer trips to the new Chinese customers wishing to discover or rediscover France. We offer tailor-made travels, inspired by the art of French lifestyle. Our Franco-Chinese teams, bilingual and bicultural are present in our Beijing representative office to meet the demands of our customers and in Paris to design and organize their trips.
See the website http://fazhongzhijia.com/
8-What are Chinese tourists looking for when they call for your services?
Our customers: Businesses, schools, home sales, individual are looking for our insights as French agency because we have a constantly updated range of suggested tours, restaurants in tune with fashion and current events. Furthermore our network among institutionals, artists or just our family spread across our home country allows us to provide not simple travel circuits, but rich teaching experiences and encounters as well. Our dual citizenship allows us to better adapt to the demands of our Chinese customers on their travels in France.
9-What are the main concerns of this type of travelers?
They are increasingly concerned about the authenticity of their travel, living a truly unique experience, completely different from the standardized tour groups, too fast to really discover a destination. Families in particulars are looking for rewarding and educational trips for their children, groups of friends like to go on auto-tours, allowing them more freedom. You must offer them rich content, while maintaining the fundamentals such as shopping and the ability to make good pictures, because the trip abroad also serves as social marker. Services and support offered by the agency remain critical for Chinese tourists. Other must-haves for Chinese tourist include Internet during the whole journey as well as comfortable accommodations. Business group ask for high value services like meeting the officials or opening VIP area, without necessarily being luxurious
10 How do you see the Chinese outbound tourism within the next 5 years?
With a yearly 200 million Chinese tourists forecast by 2020, direct flights from and to Chinese cities will increase to keep up with the huge growth of this part of the industry. Chinese will increasingly prefer independent travel and more intense and unique experience like sports (ie: skiing, surfing diving, ice skating) or cycling hikes. Their expectation will be closer to the concept of sustainable development. Travels like typical stays will emerge from the mass tourism circuits. Vintage shopping, homestays to stay close to unspoilt environment will become very attractive to Chinese Tourists in the coming years
Thank you for your time.