We are pleased to announce the appointment of our new Chief Operating Officer, Mrs. Simone Lugeon. As a true expert on tourism in Asia, we are delighted to welcome her back to Phoenix Voyages, where she has been known for many years. Get to know her through the interview of the month!
1) Tell us about your career path ?
Since my first trip to Peru when I was 18 years old, to my last escapade in Southern Myanmar a few days ago, travel has marked my private and professional career.
Once I obtained my degrees from the Hotel School and Political Science, travelling the world seemed obvious to me.
I started in the field of tourism as a tour leader at Kuoni, then as a travel agent at Artou, a Swiss travel agency specializing in unusual tours. I was also behind the opening of another travel agency, the Ere du Voyage, in Nyon, Switzerland.
Then it was the big shift in the heart of Southeast Asia, first in Singapore in 2000, joining Phoenix Voyages in 2003 as Head of the Representative Office, then as Country Manager in Myanmar in 2015. In November 2018, I was appointed Chief Operating Officer of Phoenix Voyages and joined the group's headquarters in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
2) What do you remember from your experience in Southeast Asia?
I have a special love for each country: Myanmar remains a favorite, but my heart is in Cambodia since my husband lives there, I have a special affection for Laos and a sincere attraction for Thailand, I had the opportunity to visit North Korea, and I’m falling in love with Vietnam where I live now. The unforgettable encounters with its people and the diversity of its landscapes make this continent an ideal destination.
Having lived in these countries allowed me to understand all its facets, rich in discoveries and to offer demanding clientele the best alternatives for their tours.
3) What are the main projects you want to implement at Phoenix Voyages?
Most certainly, the area that fascinates me the most is team management. I have managed several teams, as well as several projects and have always loved this African proverb which says: "Alone we go faster, together we go further".
The Phoenix Voyages team brings together experts in each destination, and in each department, it will be the challenge of channeling everyone's enthusiasm and managing the amount of information we receive everyday, just like in many companies. Flexibility and adaptability is definitely an asset.
My knowledge of Southeast Asia, having live there for 20 years, will allow me to share my experience with our customers. I love to go back to Europe, not only to see my 3 sons, but also to visit our customers, to listen to them, to respond to their wishes and to share with them, our passion for the region.
4) You have known Phoenix Voyages for a long time, what do you think are the strengths of the company?
Phoenix Voyages remains a medium-sized company, which ensures flexibility at all levels, providing a pleasant and comfortable journey for our clients. Our company's main asset is the continuous loyalty of our customers which has been proven for many years.
They appreciate our being hands-on, the fact that we are on the ground and that we are involved in the daily activities of each country. Our good relationship with hotels and service providers of all types gives us an edge in sharing our expertise with our customers.
5) Phoenix Voyages is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2019. What are the challenges for the coming decade?
Even more satisfied customers and of course, adapting ourselves to the moving environment that is definitely oriented towards the 4.0 era. The challenges are enormous - attracting many customers for unique and tailor-made products.
Finally, the essential challenge of the profession is to maintain authentic proximity and humanity in our daily work, while offering increasingly qualitative and immersive services.
6) Why is it great to work in the tourism industry?
As a tourism professional, you are the dose of happiness and surprise in your clients' day! Everyday, you make someone's day! It's about making people happy by organizing unforgettable trips for them!
It's creative! We create experiences and there is always a way to innovate, to make our customers even more satisfied with our services.
Tourism is an open door to the world - your skills can be developed in South America, Asia or Africa. In short, you can take your skills with you in your suitcase wherever you work!
Forget the 9:00am-5:00pm, forget the routine. Moreover, you will always have to work with passionate, dynamic, curious and fun people - in tourism, we do not hire boring people!
People will always enjoy eating in a good restaurant, sleeping in incredible hotels, having unique experiences in countries they are not familiar with, meeting people from all over the world, visiting sites with ancestral history and cultural heritage - in short, travelling! That is why this sector is so sustainable and long-lasting.