Naseer Khan, general manager at Kanoo Travel's Jebel Ali branch in Dubai, discusses the what challenges low-cost airlines pose and Kanoo's reaction to the new zero commission environment.What segment of the local market does your company target and why?
We are targeting multi-national companies; 80% of our business is corporate travel. We do operate a branch that specialises in leisure bookings, but in this area (Jebel Ali), we concentrate on corporate clients.
What destinations are popular with your clients and why?
We believe we are providing the information and a service that the airlines just simply cannot match.
Mainly the UK, Europe and North America. We have some Far East business as well.
What new destinations have clients been asking about recently?
There is a destination we have in Oman called Salalah and that has always been popular, but now it is the Khareef (monsoon) season we have received a lot more interest. It seems to grow in popularity each year.
What has your company done to adapt and cope with the new zero commission environment?
From what I can see, zero commission is a threat to us. To survive in the market we need to charge a transaction fee.
We feel that if there is a zero percent commission environment enforced then there should be a transaction fee applied that will be based on the volume of business and the company requirements.
What is your company doing to tackle the direct-sell tactics employed by travel suppliers, particularly from the airlines?
If the customer, in our case a multi-national company, goes direct to an airline, the airline company will tell us. We have service agreements with all of our clients so it isn’t really an issue for us.
We train our staff well and run regular internal training sessions and exercises to ensure staff know the market and the destinations they are selling. We believe we are providing the information and a service that the airlines just simply cannot match.
What challenges does the travel trade in this region face?
The low-cost travel products and services have become very popular. Every month there seems to be a new low-cost carrier coming online and that brings down our sales.
And what are you doing to overcome this?
We do have access to these carriers so we will just have to charge some sort of transaction fee for booking them for our clients. Most of the companies we deal with have a service agreement in place.
It means they have agreed standards and terms and conditions within their own travel policy, which means most of them cannot change to low-cost carriers even if they wanted to, so that helps.
What are your company’s plans for the future?
We are based in the north zone of Jebel Ali and we are planning on expanding with another office to open in the south zone soon as well.For all the latest travel news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
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