Havas Voyages integrates MAYA

The new Havas Voyages Connect tool will appear on the business travel market on December 15th. Michel Dinh, CEO of Havas Voyages, explains the logic behind this technological breakthrough and describes his vision of the market.

By Florian Guillemin


How has the Havas Voyages Connect project been born?

Michel Dinh – This new solution is the result of all the reflections we had on the business trip, which is the core business of Havas Voyages. 60% of our business is carried out with business travel, mainly with very small, small and medium-sized enterprises. The travel budgets, which we cover, range from € 50,000 to € 5 million. So it’s a fairly broad scope.

How is this project related to your cession by CWT?

M. D. – Our distribution transformation project dates from 2012. We had presented it to Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT), our former shareholder, which found it full of common sense. But since we represented only 3% of CWT’s activity in global scale and had also embarked on a very profound digital transition phase, they did not wish to finance this project. Therefore, we called for external funding through the transfer operation that took place on December 31, 2015, and resulted in the acquisition by Marietton Développement.

What did this strategic plan consist of?

M. D. – It was a matter of implementing a complete transformation of the network, both physical and technological, based on four main pillars: the human being, which is the basis of this transformation since we had chosen to preserve our physical network for SMEs, as well as for individuals; technology, because the quality of our employees did not make sense without this component, both for individuals and enterprises; marketing; and finally the transformation of the network, which is an important contact point for our existing customers, but also for the recruitment of new VSE and SME accounts. Each year, on average, we obtain over 30% of Havas’ annual acquisitions via our network, not throughout our “traditional” sales force. This credibilizes the notion of proximity. Small businesses often have very strong local roots, and even if the brand is highly recognized, the local relationship is one of the arguments of choice. We are not the only ones to have had this reflection: the world of retail bank comes to the same conclusions and begins to approach the market in the same way.

“thinking the solution of today and, what is more important, the one of tomorrow”

What does that disruption mean?

M. D. – We went the opposite direction of what had been done until today. The reflection that we have nourished with our customers, our suppliers, our users internally or externally has focused on thinking the solution of today and, what is more important, the one of tomorrow. It is a question of better sticking to customers` habits that change in depth, to take into account the growing evident porosity between the world of BtoB and BtoC. A client does not understand the complicated access to content via too complex professional tools. This is why we have turned to a solution provider that adopts the rhythm of behavioral changes, just like the iAlbatros team. It is about always being more agile, permanently flexible. The only belief we have is that things will continue to evolve, throughout the increasingly short cycles of innovation. And the structure of our project has taken this aspect into account to be able to develop the offer. Our obsession is the customer experience. We needed an appropriate partner to meet this challenge. We found him and we all entered the start-up mode to build the Havas Voyages Connect solution together

Practically speaking, when will this new SBT be ready for your clients?

M. D. – This is not a SBT, it is a real customer relationship tool that simplifies life. The first implementations of this solution will take place on December 15th, and the process will then spread until January 15th through several waves of migration. The reception is already very positive among the customers to whom we have presented the tool.


The Havas team worked together with the iAlbatros one to enter the “start-up mode

Is the need for flexibility that you evoked all the more compelling since your customer base is mostly made up of SMEs?

M. D. – That is true, indeed. There are real differences between large accounts and SMEs, in which it is often the one who decides who really travels. The managers are thus even more sensitive to this problem of simplicity, because they are decision-makers and users themselves.

Today, what is the SME market position in your customer base and in your strategic plan?

M. D. – The VSE-SME are our target market. There are 3 100 000 SME in France nowadays. 676,000 of them travel, but only 10% of them are intermediated, thus less than 70,000 small businesses. Our challenge, therefore, is naturally to satisfy the current market, those 70,000 companies that already work with travel agencies, and prevent them from disintermediating following the prevailing trend. But the potential is much higher among desintermediated firms. We want to look for these small structures, explaining to them that, with our tool, they will be able to manage their entire course in a single click. The fluidity of the journey is crucial: companies buy time, a productivity increase. Especially in an SME that is in tense flux, often traveling in “best buy”, and always in a return on investment mode. This world of SMEs has disintermediated because we were unable to speak to them as they expected, and to offer them the tools they needed.

“the Havas Voyages business model is based on two pillars”

Do you think of changing your customer balance with this new tool, by developing the corporate part?

M. D. – No, the business model of Havas Voyages is based on two pillars: individuals and SMEs. There is a very high porosity between the two markets. When SME customers entrusts their business travel to one of our agencies, trust is established, and they also tend to confer their trust on us as far as their personal journeys are concerned. So we need these two complementary activities.

How do you understand the relation between business travel and leisure?

M. D. – It is clear that the porosity between business travel and leisure arrives in France. This is a real matter for all TMCs. Now, business customers come up with applications like Trainline or other leisure tools. Simply because it’s extremely simple, and they do not want to make life complicated! The behavior of business travel is largely influenced by the world of leisure applications … It is the source of inspiration, and travelers are all the same.

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