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Sun 1 Oct 2006 12:00 AM

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Dnata Holidays’ strategy revealed

Dnata Holidays has finally disclosed details of its much-anticipated trade and consumer strategy in an exclusive interview with Arabian Travel News.

Measures enforced by Nick Sheppard, manager for Dnata Holidays & product development, who joined the company in December, include ditching the Axis Holidays brand and instead, selling wholesale products to travel agents under the Dnata Holidays banner.

“The Dnata brand is so well know that it makes sense to plough our efforts and funds into marketing one existing strong brand, rather than trying to raise awareness of two brands to two different audiences,” Sheppard told ATN.

“We are slowly phasing out Axis and there is no collateral going out with the Axis brand. We will be launching the Dnata Holidays brochure in December and that will mark the cut off point where we will say the Axis brand is no longer.”

Sheppard assured ATN that he was hoping to achieve a “healthy business mix”, ideally split 50/50 between the trade and consumers.

“We will offer parallel pricing, so the consumer will be offered the same price as our travel agent partners, the obvious difference being that our rates to agents are commissionable,” he said.

Maintaining strong partnerships with travel agents remained “essential”, demonstrated by the recent appointment of a sales manager for the five-strong trade-focused sales team, Sheppard added.

The trade will also be supported with a new Dnata Holidays web site, which Sheppard promised would be “content-rich”, “easy to navigate” and would allow agents to book flights, accommodation, transfers, car hire and insurance online.

An e-commerce consumer web site, which allows for dynamic packaging, is also being developed.

Both will be up-and-running by the second or third quarter of 2007, Sheppard said.

Dnata Holidays has also taken the radical step of streamlining its product portfolio, which now features just 24 destinations, instead of 60-plus.

“We did our research and found out what were the most popular destinations out of this market, and we are just going to concentrate on these,” said Sheppard.

The target market, he revealed, would be “the discerning traveller” and “travellers that enjoy staying at the finest resorts and hotels in the world”.

To this effect, Dnata Holidays’ portfolio will offer four- and five-star properties only.

“Our clients will tend to take two or three leisure trips in a year.

They will range from couples taking short haul weekend breaks, to large families taking long haul breaks for up to six weeks.”

Destinations on Dnata Holidays’ hit list include Oman, Egypt, the UAE, Jordan and Morocco in MENA, the UK, France, Germany, and Austria in Europe, honeymoon hotspots such as the Maldives, Seychelles and Mauritius, as well as Asian favourites such as Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Australia.

The operator will not sell destinations omitted from its portfolio.

“But if you go to any Dnata outlet or our Holiday Lounge, they will sell you any product, any destination, or any airline, just like any other travel agent,” said Sheppard.

There are currently 50 Dnata outlets across the UAE (mainly Dubai), Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

This will double to 100 over the next four years, Sheppard added.

A full interview with Nick Sheppard will be published in the November issue of ATN.

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