#Interview : Stéphane Daugeron, Les Visites Hennessy Manager

21 October 2021

Hello Stéphane Daugeron, can you please introduce yourself?

After spending 17 years in marketing and business development for the insurance sector, I changed career paths to work in wines and spirits, a field I have felt passionate about since my student days in Bordeaux. After a Wine&Spirits MBA and professional tasting studies, I started a wine tourism consulting business and Hennessy was one of my clients for its new experience launched in 2016. I took over as head of Les Visites Hennessy (Hennessy Tours) in June 2016 and coordinate both operations and development.

Can you introduce Maison Hennessy to us and tell us about its history?

Maison Hennessy’s history is over 250 years old. It was established in 1765 on the initiative of Richard Hennessy, an Irish soldier based in France, who gave the name to the company in the early years of the Charente brandy trade to Northern European countries.

Since its creation, the House's know-how has been built around three pillars: selecting eaux de vie , ageing and blending. One of Maison Hennessy’s great added values is Excellence. Every day at 11am, the Master Blender and the tasting committee meet to taste all the eaux-de-vie purchased from suppliers. Spirits are only accepted and integrated if the whole committee agrees.

The Master Assembler, who has been in the same family for eight generations, is a bit like the "guardian of the temple": it is he who decides on the quantity to be produced, according to the stocks and his projection for the coming years. 

The spirit of conquest, already embodied at the time by Richard Hennessy and his sons, is one of Maison Hennessy’s fundamental values. Hennessy, the world’s top cognac producer, is present in over 180 countries and continues to pursue its development goal worldwide. Today, 99% of Hennessy cognac is sold for export (mainly to the USA and China) and 1 in every 2 bottles of cognac sold in the world is produced by Hennessy.

In 1989, Maison Hennessy became part of the LVMH group (the H is for Hennessy!)

Can you tell us about Les Visites Hennessy tours?

The culture of hospitality and service is extremely strong at Maison Hennessy, which has been welcoming visitors since 1930, and offering wine tourism for nearly 90 years, with renewed intentions over time. Hennessy’s values are based on hospitality and education, with teams who enjoy sharing their passion and know-how and helping people to understand cognac making and drinking.

Les Visites Hennessy offers tours all year long, every day from April to November and from Tuesday to Saturday the rest of the year, with a team of 10 people in low season to 30 people in high season. 

Who are your main clients (pre- and post-Covid)?

Before the pandemic, our clientele was evenly split between French and foreign visitors, mostly from the UK, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany, as well as from the USA and China. We therefore offer tours in French, English, Spanish, German, Russian and Chinese to meet the expectations of our customers. Today, due to the health crisis, the proportion of French visitors has risen to 85%. Most of our visitors are individuals (85%). 90% of the groups we greet are foreign. Lastly, leisure tourism accounts for 90% of visits, although MICE visits are on the increase, thanks to the seminar facilities offered by the 5-star Chais Monnet Hotel & Spa and 4-star Hôtel François Premier.  

The reopening took place in a particular context. What is your assessment of the 2021 season?

Les Visites Hennessy reopened on 1 June 2021. French visitors were present, but Belgian, Dutch, and mainly German visitors also came, due to the proximity of the Atlantic Coast which is one of their favourite destinations. A slight recovery of the international clientele is starting to be felt. Tours in English, which had been reduced during the crisis, have resumed this year with more significant occupancy rates.

Alongside the traditional French and foreign visitors, we are beginning to see a more sophisticated "epicurean" tourism, with visitors who are already Cognac connoisseurs, from the USA, Canada, Eastern Europe and Russia, and who wish to participate in immersive experiences that go further than the classic tours. The new XO Evolution tour was created to meet this demand, allowing visitors to taste before blending and to discover pairings in a cozier and more selective atmosphere (every Saturday, duration 1h45, rate 50 €).

Can you tell us about upcoming developments?

Maison Hennessy and Les Visites Hennessy have many projects planned for 2022 and 2023.

First of all, our bar, created in 2020, will be open this year. We cannot communicate on all of our projects for now, but I can tell you that in the short term, we have two very special projects coming up:

To start out, we are going to completely redesign the Hennessy boutique on the ground floor. The aim is to make it an incredible and unusual place that can compete with shops in major European destinations. We plan to open it in 2022.

Our second project is to open our cooperage to the public, with high-end private visits, to allow our visitors to truly immerse themselves into the production site. This is a unique approach, as we are the only company with its own cooperage. The venue should be redesigned to open by mid-2022.

Lastly, as leaders of the Cognac appellation, we have a true role to play in promoting the brand. We need to invest in the offer whilst investing in the promotion of the #ExploreCognac destination. If we wish to attract visitors beyond connoisseurs, we need to offer ever more qualitative and differentiating experiences, which go beyond the product itself. This is a twofold approach, individually and collectively.

Useful information

Hennessy Tours offer tours all year long, every day from April to November and from Tuesday to Saturday the rest of the year.  


Contact information

Stéphane Daugeron
Responsable / Head of Les Visites Hennessy

+33 5 45 35 69 38