Brands crossing borders

The Grand Est region: LuxairTours’ leading foreign market

Alberto Kunkel and Vincenzo Manzella prefer to focus on safety rather than promotions. (Photo: Matic Zorman/Maison Moderne)

Alberto Kunkel and Vincenzo Manzella prefer to focus on safety rather than promotions. (Photo: Matic Zorman/Maison Moderne)

This summer, Paperjam and Delano are looking at brands and businesses that cross borders and adapt to the specificities of the local market. The focus in this edition is on LuxairTours.

It is one of Luxembourg's leading travel brands, but LuxairTours' reputation extends beyond the country's borders: almost a third of its customers come from France, which makes France--or at least the Grand Est region--the Luxembourg tour operator's leading foreign market.

"It's historical, LuxairTours is traditionally well-positioned in France. Twenty years ago, we even had a LuxairTours office in Strasbourg,” says Alberto Kunkel, EVP tour operating & sales manager. While this office has since closed, France remains LuxairTours' largest market outside Luxembourg (51%), with 31% of customers, compared to 11% for Belgium and 7% for Germany in 2020.

Attracting French-speaking destinations 

Luxair has over time expanded its catalogue with French-speaking destinations, such as Tunisia, Turkey and, to a lesser extent, Egypt. "Previously, we had already concentrated on the preferred destinations of German speakers, but we have oriented the new destinations to capture more French-speaking customers," says Kunkel.

In France, customers buy a package tour without knowing the name of the airline. What differentiates us is that we are LuxairTours and people know they are flying with Luxair.
Alberto Kunkel

Alberto KunkelEVP Tour Operating & SalesLuxairTours

The tour operator is not the only one on the French market. What sets it apart from its competitors? "In France, customers buy a package tour without knowing the name of the airline. What differentiates us is that we are LuxairTours and people know that they are flying with Luxair, which reassures customers," the manager says.

In Germany, many players share the travel market, both tour operators and airlines. "The German market has a different sensitivity to price," says Vincenzo Manzella, marketing director of LuxairTours.

The company started its activities in 1968, in the early days of mass tourism. Palma de Mallorca and Italy were the first destinations, and then dozens more. In this summer marked once again by the global covid-19 pandemic, the operator is feeling the urge among people to travel, with a resurgence of direct bookings via its website.

Last year, LuxairTours achieved 43% of its sales through direct channels. But when it comes to sales via an intermediary, such as a travel agency, France is at the top of the podium, with a 23% share of sales, ahead of Luxembourg (21%), Germany and Belgium (6% each).

Playing the security card

"The customer needs to be reassured about a number of things," says Manzella. For example, the operator has opted to include the covid test at destinations where unvaccinated passengers are required to test prior to returning to Luxembourg, but also the coverage of the rest of the stay in case of quarantine. "This is expensive, but so is an empty seat on the plane," says Kunkel.

It's in this country's DNA to be inclusive.
Vincenzo Manzella

Vincenzo ManzellaMarketing directorLuxairTours

As its name suggests, LuxairTours is first and foremost Luxembourgish and intends to remain so: "It is in this country's DNA to be inclusive", says Manzella. By integrating certain destinations to target a French-speaking clientele and by making strategic choices in its advertising, such as, for example, highlighting Djerba in France, the tour operator has succeeded in adapting its offer to attract a clientele other than Luxembourg residents. The latter still constitutes its base, with half of the tourists transported in 2020.

The past financial year was marked by a 66% drop in the number of passengers carried, due to covid. But many of these 257,651 passengers were ready to splurge, with a 10 to 15% increase in the sales of “excellence" products dedicated to luxury holiday experiences. LuxairTours intends to capitalise on this catch-up effect at the end of the summer of 2021.

This article was originally published on Paperjam. It has been translated and edited for Delano.