OFF THE BEATEN PATH

Morocco 2020/21 | TOURISM | INTERVIEW

From its outset, Visit Morocco has shown Morocco's authenticity to business clients from the world in a tailor-made manner.

Habib El Fassi
BIOGRAPHY

Habib El Fassi has been Managing Director of Visit Morocco Travel & Events since 2013. A telecoms engineer by training, he began his professional life in strategy and marketing consultancy. After completing an MBA at INSEAD, he joined Inditex Moroccan franchisee as country manager. He embarked on modernizing and making Moroccan cuisine accessible to all and joined Visit Morocco Travel & Events. He has developed original, authentic, and exclusive customer experiences, making Visit Morocco Travel & Events a benchmark in the MICE segment and high-end leisure customers.

There has been a shift in demand in the tourism sector. How would you define this shift?
Indeed, this shift has taken place both in the business and the leisure segment, but more so in leisure. The shift in demand is mainly related to digitalization. From our side, our position has always been to show our clients “Morocco through our eyes" in a tailor-made manner. We are always opening up new authentic and interactive experiences to encourage people to understand our country, rather than going on a strictly touristic path. We have observed this shift in demand, and we have found it to be positive because it better emphasizes our real value as experts of the destination. When we do our sales calls in the different markets we target, we show this expertise. We explain there is much more to see behind a medina or a mosque. Even in the last few years, despite the slowdown in the country, there was great growth. Between 2017 and 2019, we experienced double-digit growth.

What services weigh more in terms of revenue?
MICE and business travel represent 70% of our business, but leisure is growing. We are opening the leisure part, and the line between business and leisure is less clear now. When you organize a congress, some people will ask for extensions to make it into a vacation. People really appreciate our approach because it is different than just selling a typical packaged product. We make people interact with the country, and people are taken to lesser known places that are more authentic. Sometimes, we create something new for the MICE segment and then adapt it to our high-end leisure groups and individuals or vice versa.

What is your average client's profile?
We are a B2B company; we rarely work with individuals directly. Most of our clients come from our business partners and our representative agents. Our local business is more B2B, so we work with corporations to manage their accounts.

One of the challenges of the country is to sell this added value. What is your view on this?
Our market is global, and currently destinations are in competition with each other. Morocco must establish a unique selling proposition that will differentiate it from other destinations. It is important to show that Morocco is diverse. For example, we have one of the best windsurfing spots in the world. Marrakesh is the most touristic city in Morocco, and it still has so many hidden gems. Overall, in order to sell our entire offerings, we need the adequate infrastructure around it.

What are your goals for 2020?
Historically, we have had mostly a business travel focus, since we work with many corporations. Now, we are focusing more on bringing tourists to Morocco, so it will be a similar strategy for 2020. We are present in the US, Mexico, most of Europe, the Middle East, Russia, and other regions through our partners. Now, we are trying to develop more and find out more about these markets.