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Thu 1 Nov 2007 12:00 AM

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Haensel laments copycat behaviour

The GCC's tour operator community is a disappointment and is swarming with copycats, a senior manager at the Emirates Group has said.

The GCC's tour operator community is a disappointment and is swarming with copycats, a senior manager at the Emirates Group has said.

In an exclusive interview with ATN, Hans Haensel, the senior vice president of Emirates' destination and leisure management division called for more professionalism and innovation in the industry and hit out at travel company's that had copied Emirates Holidays' brochure format.

"I have found it disappointing that people don't go out of their box. They are copycats, but when I read some of their statements it's as if they invented tourism. This industry should be more professional than that," he said.

"Companies have leisure departments with no support behind them, whereas from the start Emirates Holidays has taken a different view and made an investment."

He referred to the amount of research and resources dedicated to each destination Emirates Holidays brochured, as well as the investment made in staff and travel agent training over the past 17 years.

"Some companies claim they have one or two pages per destination. What decision can people make on this basis? People say they sell 120 destinations because they have that in their brochure. But the brochure does not tell the client anything. We do mystery shoppers and many agents know nothing," Haensel elaborated.

"At Emirates Holidays we know every single product in the brochure and have 26 people checking this product and it will remain that way.We are also the only organisation that can go to a competitive market with these brochures and be successful. Our percentage of customer complaints is less than 1% and that's incredible when you think we have more than two thousand suppliers."

Haensel also noted the industry's tendency to "focus on price-driven issues".

"People advertise around prices - and I wish them good luck. Our mission is to give people the holiday of a lifetime and value at the same time," he said.

Haensel told ATN Emirates Holidays was currently putting together a series of "very detailed brochures" for 2008.

"Next year the brochure concept will change, with a lot of emphasis on the destination and providing hints and tips," he revealed.

"But there is only so much information you can give in a brochure; you give people a fair understanding of the destination and then if they want more information, they go on the net."

In terms of the 2007 brochures, Haensel said they had helped drive year-on-year sales growth of between 12% and 15%.

"This was the growth we were looking for to sustain what we are doing in terms of cost," he said.

Top summer performers included Malaysia, Australia, the Indian Ocean and Germany "as a result of last year's World Cup".

"But we have also witnessed nice little things like people travelling to Korea.Who would have thought that people from this region would go to Korea or China?" asked Haensel.

"People are getting more adventurous because they started with us and they know what we do; they trust us."

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