Interview with Terra Group, Post-COVID-19 Recovery on the French Speaking Market

30 March 2022
Pierre Boyer, Co-founder and Sales Director Terra Group

Tourism recovery, what does it look like?

According to general trends in the adventure travel sector, we have noted a recovery in tourism following the drop in COVID cases and the relaxation of sanitary measures. We know that traditionally the months of January to March are essential to ensure reservations for the summer months, so tell us what about Terra Group. 

What are the trends in the French-speaking market to long-haul destinations by Terra Group?

Pierre: Terra is a collective of 16 French-speaking DMCs from around the world with a strong presence in Latin America, South Africa, Australia, Canada and also in Europe with the Balkans, and Portugal.

We have noted an accelerating recovery since the beginning of the year, January-February 2022. In particular Mexico, Costa Rica (easy to access, not very closed during COVID, easy travel, etc.). Peru and Argentina since the Oct-Nov start of season 2021 (before Omicron) had a great season. Regarding Chile, it is more complicated due to restrictions, complexity on handsets (fewer flights, border crossings). Canada is picking up again, and the Balkans did very well in 2021, thanks to European proximity but are more impacted today by the crisis in Ukraine.

Is there a significant change in the behavior of post-COVID travelers in their expectations and level of requirements?

Pierre:  There is no obvious change. The profile of our travelers is naturally 'all vaccinated', coming from a professional environment that has suffered little from the crisis, with an increase in the average spending.  After 2 years of pandemic and a higher available budget, our customers are ready to have a special trip as a treat.

The economic impact of COVID-19 varies by sector, purchasing power is retained through less spending during the pandemic. This is felt in the clientele, which is already high level, with a high average spending (high-end) and which reinforces the holiday budget.

They are more in search of better conditions (high-end hotels, better services, etc.).

Regarding the restrictions, they are conciliatory, accommodating, and understanding of the situation. They are generally more flexible (wearing the mask imposed on the plane, etc.) -

Terra for its part is relaxing the sales conditions, we have been more accommodating and have reassured customers.

What trends have you noted for 2022 on Terra trips and bookings?

Pierre: We have a lot of last-minute bookings, and also booking reports post COVID-19. Customers are generally more responsive.

During the pandemic, you modified your production and launched new thematic collections, in the spirit of sustainable tourism ensuring a more positive local impact, including longer stays, homestay accommodation, and removing or reducing domestic flights being replaced by the train. Have you noticed a stronger demand for this type of product?

Pierre: It is still too early to have this type of perspective, it usually varies depending on the destination.

There are no immediate ecological aspirations - but a beautiful and unique journey, taking the time.

The price of oil has a significant impact on the type of travel (mode of transport, distances traveled, increase in the price of the plane ticket, etc.), and budgetary constraints affect consumption habits.

How did you manage the recovery in terms of resources (qualified staff responding to demand)?

Pierre: We have not had any problems on this side because we benefit from an excellent network, with qualified staff in resource mode, flexible. Some of our agencies have been able to keep their teams, others are using sales agents, bringing business leads on commission, a more agile method in a still uncertain economic context which makes it possible to recruit locally or work remotely and avoid long term visa applications, etc.

Ex: Peru - local recruitment

On the ground, are your local partners (accommodation, transport, activities) still able to accommodate this new wave of travelers?

Pierre: We have long-standing contracts with our local operators and suppliers, very few of them didn’t survive but most are present and ready (even eager) to welcome our customers.

What about Australia with the reopening of borders?

Pierre: We have received an increase in requests, the interest is there, but no reservations have yet been made, due to the long distance (+ the crisis in Ukraine affecting flights to Asia and Oceania… itineraries longer flights)

The impact of fuel on flights is either dissuasive on long haul flights, or on the contrary, they are ready to invest more to go far and disconnect (ex: Argentina €1,400 12h flights)

For Australia, we also note postponement of bookings, as flight tickets are already purchased and cannot increase (but domestic flights yes)

Despite the war in Ukraine, the demand for travel is there. Fatalism or need to decompress.

Thank you Pierre for sharing, a recovery that seems to be here to stay despite the current situation. We hope this continues and we wish you good luck with a productive and positive season.

Contributing members are responsible for the accuracy of content contributed to the Member News section of AdventureTravelNews.