Christophe Desmarais is the founder of Catamaran Cruises Mauritius, a cruise excursion company that delights guests with sailing experiences around the islands of Mauritius. When he isn't running his company, he's managing one of Mauritius' best-loved luxury resort.
It was this - that he started a new company while having a day job - that got me interested in his story. Over the holidays, I had the pleasure of speaking to Christophe about Catamaran Cruises Mauritius, the importance of a great website when building a tour and activity company and learning about his incredible experiences as an entrepreneur with a thriving business.
Roughly two years ago, Christophe launched a simple site to showcase two of his own boats, the Cat Cruiser and the Island Hopper. Shortly after, he began receiving requests for cruises on other coasts of the island. With 20 years of experience within the luxury hotel industry, he decided to combine his passion for service excellence and water activities, and began fulfilling these requests by adding cruises from other operators, effectively starting another business.
Being the innovative and solutions-driven entrepreneur he is, Christophe adopted this outsourcing model to grow their product range and began generating business for other local catamaran cruise operators too.
Like many successful tour and activity operators, Catamaran Cruises Mauritius has a user friendly website, which was the centre of our discussion. Having been in the hotel trade for years, Christophe understood the wants and needs of customers and used this knowledge to build an interactive website with all the information people wanted and needed.
The internet has opened a world of opportunities for anyone out there with an entrepreneurial mind, and I have seized this opportunity to develop my website into a platform and am now leveraging the traffic by converting enquiries into bookings.
“The global reach of the platform and the interactions we are creating with both customers and other web-based platforms that attract like-minded people is simply jaw dropping.”
He calls this side gig his “hobby” and currently employs two other people to run the company. His team includes a commercial representative to deal with their DMCs to make sure that they are the preferred partner and “our live agent and reservation genius” who has helped the business grow by converting all the booking requests into actual bookings.
Much of the success experienced in the past year, including the increase of their turnover for the last quarter by two to threefold what they expected, was attributed to TrekkSoft.
“I do remember seeing a very rapid growth in conversion rates since we introduced TrekkSoft’s payment gateway to help with online payments.”
“TrekkSoft basically helped me realise that a website could generate money and since having my very first activity go live, the payment gateway has helped us generate income. Till today, we have not stopped adding new tours. We use the ticketing and voucher system extensively and I would love to have a person from TrekkSoft over here to help us better make use of the system. There is not enough time in a day to implement all that we have in our minds and to use the system to its full potential.”
Word has it that he’d love to have an employee of TrekkSoft on cross exposure trip to Mauritius!
When I asked him about his social media efforts, he replied, “I do all that myself, Instagram and Facebook.”
I believe that the business has so many channels to reach out to customers that we must make use of them all.
“Social media is certainly the way to go and I spare no effort in using various ones to reach out to new followers and customers. I love using our stunning collection of photographs to share what we offer as a company.”
Stunning photographs indeed. If you get the chance to check out their Facebook, Instagram and YouTube pages, you will find visuals and content that tempt their audience with sunshine, the sea and a catamaran cruise. What came across very clear was that Christophe knew how to sell Mauritius as a destination, and market it to the right audience. I believe that it is his experience in the hotel trade that has helped him understand his target market in great depth, making him a strong social media marketer.
As for anyone interested in going on a tour with Catamaran Cruises Mauritius, Christophe recommends the full day cruise on a shared basis to Isle aux Cerfs. But he says that cruising to any of the other outer islands surrounding Mauritius such as Ilot Gabriel, Ile aux Bénitiers and Ilot Bernache are just as spectacular.
They are also working on other products to offer customers such as quad biking, seaplanes, speedboats and expedition fishing trips to Saint Brandon.
Interested in how TrekkSoft can help your business grow too?
Written by Nicole Kow
Having graduated from the UK, Nicole travelled around Europe before joining TrekkSoft's marketing team. She is now based in KL and regularly blogs about her travels at Next Train Out.