With the recent opening of TILT in Chicago that enables an aerial view of the city, Group Montparnasse has once again provided a peculiarity that travellers look for. Sales Manager, Jean-Marc Champrobert, shares more such plans and the group’s progress in Indian market.
Q : Can you update about the Group Montparnasse and its activities in 2014. What are the new products/offers that you have launched?
This year we have focused on consolidating our assets and reinforcing the attractiveness of our sites. One of the several such examples is the renovation of our elevators in Berlin, leading to a new elevating experience that we have proposed to our visitors since last spring.
In Chicago, our renovation program for the entire observatory is on the right track and we have completed more than half the entire renovation plan. Our main goal when itcomes to renovation is to enhance and reinforce the experience and the memory that each visitor will take after visiting our different sites.
Q : You have recently opened the renovated tilt in Chicago. Can you give us details of what it means and how it has been received by visitors?
TILT is indeed our very big innovation for 2014. We had this project in mind much before purchasing the observatory at the John Hancock Center. I would like to remind you that we have been present in Chicago since the beginning of summer 2012. Our aim from the beginning was to turn this observatory into a unique and exceptional attraction that would differentiate us from our competitors.
TILT is an integral part of the facade of the John Hancock Center Tower. It is a one-of-a-kind experience. TILT is an enclosed, glass and steel moveable platform that holds up to eight visitors per cycle. Once the visitors are safely inside, the platform slowly tilts outward to an adventurous angle, generating downward-facing views of Chicago – from one thousand feet above The Magnificent Mile®. The TILT gives our visitors an exciting and safe way to get unsurpassable views of the city, from a never-before-seen angle as the visitors feel like they are suspended mid-air above the city. This is a unique experience and excitement along with goose bumps is guaranteed!
Tilt is not only an attraction; it is part of a large program of complete renovation.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the teams of engineers, designers, and builders, who worked on this project and helped make this idea a reality. I would also like to thank the City of Chicago that provided us the needed administrative authorizations.
The opening of this new attraction at the heart of the panoramic visit at our observatory has created an amazing enthusiasm for it, and the buzz following its inauguration on May 8th has been huge. This unique feature has been covered extremely well not just by the American press, but by the international media as well.
Since May, more than 120,000 people have tried the TILT and the feedback has consistently been very positive.
We will finish the renovation of this site next winter, and we have quite a few surprises in store for our visitors, with some exceptional arrangements at the reception of the John Hancock Center that will definitely enhance the entire experience of our visitors. This year we will break a record in terms of visits with over 600,000. This record becomes more significant when you take into account that we had a rather indifferent beginning of the year due to an extremely cold winter in the first quarter which had a negative impact on all touristic attractions in Chicago.
Q : Please give us details about the tower in Philadelphia.
The readers of India Outbound will get the scoop before anybody else. We have just signed a contract with Metropolis in Philadelphia, which, in the next few months, will allow us to open the first observatory in this large, historical city of the East coast.
If everything goes smoothly, we hope to open the observatory in the beginning of 2015 on the 57th floor of the One Liberty Place. The timetable is extremely squeezed, but we fully trust our teams to meet the deadline.
We are excited to move on the East coast for the first time. There is a lot of work to be done before the opening of the site, but Philadelphia shows lots of possibilities in the field of tourism and we would be glad to be part of the touristic offers proposed by a city associated with powerful historical symbols for the Americans.
Q : What other opportunities are you scouting for and in which markets?
We are now preparing to launch the fourth observatory of our group and this puts our company in a very unique position and with a special know-how. We are today recognised as key players in this business and this will open up a broad range of possibilities.
Everywhere around the world there are projects of constructing buildings, all over Asia, the Middle East, China and India etc. We will certainly have a number of potential business opportunities to study in the near future. What is important is the current and future touristic potential of cities that are likely to open an observatory. After this, it is for us to do our job to be best possible in order to attract the tourists.
Q :How has India been as a market for the Group so far?
We are now in the worldwide marketplace. India is already a strategic market for tourism and it will grow further over the years. As we manage attractions in Europe and USA, we simply cannot afford to miss this market. Our strategy has always been to focus on high potential markets and we know well that the USA and Europe are two continents that will keep on attracting Indians travelling overseas.
Q : You have been present in India for four years. What kind of progress have you made in the market in this period?
I won’t deny that India is not an easy market to work with. We have been present in this market for over six years, of which nearly four years have been in an intensive fashion as we opened a representative office in New Delhi in 2011. We have made progress in the market, but a lot remains to bedone.
Q : How was 2014? What were the main highlights?
The year 2014 was not a very good year for outbound tourism in India. The elections in spring and the difficult economic situation with a declining growth rate have not helped the situation as many Indian tourists cancelled or delayed their travels. Moreover, we have to face increasing competition; today, as touristic offers for Indians have become broader and it is up to us to ensure that our sites become as attractive for the Indian tourists as possible.
Q : What is your forecast for 2015?
We believe, as do many economists, that the Indian economy will rediscover its growth. We believe that a stronger Indian economy, along with our perpetual efforts to cater to the needs of outbound tour operators and tourists, will help us achieve better results. Initially, we used Paris and the Tour Montparnasse as an entry door for working with outbound tour operators, but now we are ready to commercialise all our sites across the world by putting forward both Europe and USA. It is important to note that we have received very promising responses from the Berlin TV Tower.