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Sun 24 Feb 2008 01:27 PM

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Jumeirah Group offers sky-high value add

Why agents would do well to offer a stay at a Jumeirah property combined with a Jumeirah-branded balloon flight to remember

Travel agents looking to impress their top-end clients with value added services should look no further than the Jumeirah Group, which now offers guests an experience to remember at its Dubai properties

The hospitality specialist has teamed up with Balloon Adventures Dubai (BAD) to offer hot air balloon flights for corporate, FIT and meetings industry guests - and just to make sure they remember the flight as a Jumeirah experience, the company has sponsored BAD's largest balloon.

The Jumeirah-branded balloon can now be seen flying over the Hajar Mountains on a daily basis - weather pending - and at time of press, Jumeirah was due to distribute collateral to all of its Dubai properties so that balloon flight information was available in all guest rooms.

As a result, travel agents looking to offer their customers top-end experiences during their stay in Dubai can now recommend a stay at a Jumeirah property, combined with a balloon flight - an experience that is proving particularly popular with corporate clients, according to BAD's director Peter Kollar.

"Meetings-related bookings are currently around 30% of our business, but it's the fastest growing market and I anticipate that it will eventually become our bread and butter," he told ATN.

"I think incentives business etc will become 60% of sales - and that's what we're aiming for - then the FIT business will top it up."

Kollar said big corporates, including Coca Cola, HSBC, Al-Futtaim and the Jumeirah Group had already made use of BAD's balloon flights, which he described as a perfect way to reward clients for their loyalty or to tee off a team-building day.

BAD, which is licensed by Dubai's General Civil Aviation Authority, can accommodate up to 80 passengers at one time if all three balloons are used and operates one-hour flights, usually at sunrise when the weather conditions are most conducive.

However, Kollar said larger groups could opt to cut the flying time to half an hour to accommodate twice as many passengers.

The balloon flight, which requires a 5am start, takes guests near the UAE/Oman border where they are elevated to around 2500ft to take in views of the varied desert landscape. Breakfast is then served once passengers come back down to earth.

BAD operates balloon flights from October to May as the summer weather makes flying uncomfortable.

"This year we will finish at the end of May and start again after Ramadan," said Kollar.

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