Association Flainoise

2015-02-23 - Minutes of meeting with Pierre CLAESSEN, Director of the Tourist Office (OT)

Friday 6 March 2015 by Michel Morel, Regis_Lardennois

Monday, March 2, 2015 by Michel Morel, Regis Lardennois ( Trans Mike Dickinson)

Minutes of meeting with Pierre Claessen, Director of the Tourist Office (OT)


  • Pierre CLAESSEN, Director of the Tourist Office
  • Michel MOREL, Treasurer of the Association Flainoise
  • Regis LARDENNOIS, Secretary of the Association Flainoise

Winter Season visitors
Christmas week was considered by traders as somewhat slow, but the number of visitors was not much reduced, and there was a high level of customer satisfaction. The Activities and Events program was significantly enhanced by the Tourist Office and co-financed with DSF, the SIF, ACTIF (retailers).
New Year’s week was very, very good.

This was also the case for the first week of January with more Russian visitors.
Attendance continued to be good in January and February, and bookings for March are good according to the accommodation providers.

However, predictions for April, especially for the last week of the season (the school holidays in Haute Savoie) are down, with a decrease in customers ’staying’ but maybe a few more ’day’ customers.
The overall balance should not be too bad despite the very difficult economic situation.

This raises the issue of the timing of the spring break which is unfavourable for ski resorts and the “mountain economy.”

Currently, there is very little business or demand. The skiers who come are from the region and they may come more frequently, they consume less.
The major resorts which open in May are bringing their closure dates earlier because the spring skiing is not profitable.
This is partly because the spring vacation comes later, with the re-set not coming before 2017,

An improvement in the market during this period would involve:

  • special offers from the resorts directed at this market and period;
  • favorable snow conditions;
  • enhanced advertizing and consequently a much bigger budget!
    It is necessary to address this situation, but there is no enthusiasm in this direction at the moment and that goes for all the ski resorts.
    In this negative environment, the resort of Flaine is among the resorts which is maintaining a good level of activity!

50 years of Flaine 2018-2019
The Tourist Office is planning special events to celebrate the anniversary, but there is a cost involved and nothing has been decided. The advanced planning for the operation is becoming urgent.

Summer 2015
In response to a question about plans for new activities that have been considered by the SIF six months ago (including a possible zip line), it is necessary to wait until the budget vote in March.

Editor’s note: there will always be free activities with the PASS, the music academies and many others. This has ensured success for the last seven summer seasons.

It should be remembered that Flaine is apparently the only resort with consistently increasing summer attendance figures over the past seven years.

The Tourist Office budget
Pierre Claessen returned to the Tourist Office budget which is much lower than comparable resorts:

Flaine gets an appropriation of 750 K€, compared to 614 K€ in 1995. The increase is well below inflation. We must add revenue from the PASS cards which is paid for by the accommodation providers (this funded the Tourist Office payroll of 44 K€ last summer).

The Flaine Tourist Office only spends 44% of its budget on salaries, while the average for other Tourist Offices runs between 50% and 60%.
The Tourist Office budget for communications and promotion is only 150 K€ for the year!
The budget for Activities and Events is 100 K€ for the year, 75 K€ for the winter season and 25 K€ for the summer season.
Another resort very close to Flaine, with a capacity of 16 000 beds, that is 4,000 more than Flaine, organized a concert at a cost of € 250,000 for the opening weekend in December.

That is to say, they spent on that one weekend the entire budget Flaine has for Promotion, Communication and for Animation.
With € 1.5 million, the Tourist Office could develop several projects as a Festival (taking advantage of the auditorium), web projects, a project for reception activities on Saturdays, and much more in general!

The Future of Flaine
Flaine has strengths: a superb ski area, with four big lifts from the resort with an uplift capacity for 10 000 passengers per hour, with capacity for 12,000 skiers in the resort. This minimizes delays at peak times, such as can be seen in large resorts. Large groups such as Pierre et Vacances and Odalys have confidence in the resort and are investing. They have 3000 beds between the two of them, and advance the life of the resort.
One constant and on-going problem remains après ski facilities and ambience in Flaine. This aspect must be addressed by everyone, but primarily the Tourist Office, but without substantial budgetary enhancement, there can be no quick fixes. Yet has been done and improvements made.
Businesses should also take part in promoting this atmosphere.
Many things have been improved, but we must not rest on our laurels but continue to persevere in this direction. Much has been done with the support of DSF and the SIF.

Pierre Claessen sees this as an outstanding asset in terms of communications. It is probable that all the media will be talking about it for the entire year of the inauguration, which is scheduled for 2019, and it will no doubt bring in addition customers.
The cost of the project is proportionate to the expected benefits, particularly to the development of Flaine. The costs of FuniFlaine can be absorbed in the long term if they are planned for. Pierre Claessen has confidence in the people responsible for this project.
Pierre Claessen expects a significant increase in the number of day skiers. Take the example of an Annecy family who ski in La Clusaz. It takes an hour and a half to drive there and the same to return, and a season pass there costs €650. With FuniFlaine, the Annecy and Geneva trip using FuniFlaine will be somewhat shorter and the Grand Massif season pass is 20% cheaper than at La Clusaz with a much larger area.
Pierre Claessen believes the Grand Massif ski area can still absorb a significant increase in the number of skiers.

Conclusion of the Association Flainoise
We would like to thank Pierre Claessen for the information provided, and value his reasoned optimism about the strengths of the resort and its future, and his commitment.
We are not as optimistic as he is about the FuniFlaine project, because of the technical and commercial complexity, and the local financial impact that may even affect the Flaine budget. We only have a limited amount of detailed information; we will refine our views after the consultation survey which is available on our website (<> ).

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