Personalisation plays a pivotal role in holiday itineraries these days, starting right from their visa application. VFS Global has introduced new strategies for the Middle Eastern travellers to ensure they experience a smooth and personalised visa application process, reveals Vinay Malhotra, COO – ME & South Asia.
Q How central is the Middle East to your operations and what is your growth strategy for this region?
Ever since we launched operations in the United Arab Emirates in 2002, the Middle East has been an important travel hub for our business and holiday travellers alike due to its central location. In terms of our growth strategy for the region, beyond expanding our existing client base, we are focused on using innovation and ‘anywhereisation’ in all our services as a key business driver. This is partly because we have recognised a paradigm shift in customer behaviour over the last few years—today’s traveller is far more analytical about the options that are available to them and prefers speed, comfort and convenience in all the services, including the visa application process.
Q What are VFS Global’s key differentiators in terms of services for applicants?
VFS Global introduced the concept of visa process outsourcing some 16 years ago, and today, we continue to create path-breaking innovations, by pushing the boundaries of flexibility and digitisation in visa application. Among these innovations are our ‘bespoke’ or tailor-made solutions that give applicants greater flexibility and accessibility in the visa application process so as to ensure their experience with our services is a smooth one.
Our ‘doorstep’ visa service for instance, introduced in the United Arab Emirates in January last year, allows travellers to apply for visas from their home or office. Our VFS Global team visits the applicant’s chosen location to complete the application submission process and biometric enrolment (obtaining finger scans and a photograph) in a safe and secure process. This level of personalisation—where the visa centre essentially comes to the applicant’s location of choice—has revolutionised the flexibility of the process to a great extent and it is no wonder that this particular service has done very well in the Middle East.
Our mobile app for the United Arab Emirates visas for Emirates Airline is another example of a first-of-a-kind innovation that is increasing in popularity among the applicants world over—it is the first-ever transactional visa application app that allows travellers to apply for visa from anywhere, anytime.
Q Which are the governments served by VFS Global?
Currently, we serve 28 governments and 18 Schengen countries, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom.
Q What are the outbound summer destinations most popularly approached for by the agents and consumers?
The United Arab Emirates is home to a large number of expatriates who often require visas to travel abroad for tourism or business. Generally, many of the western and Schengen countries are popular among the travellers from the Middle East.
Q Are visas guaranteed when you apply through VFS Global?
VFS Global is only responsible for the processing of visa applications. All applications are assessed and visa decisions made at the sole discretion of our client governments.
Q Do share the busiest periods for travel in the Middle East region.
For travellers from the Middle East, the peak travel season usually begins from March, reaching the zenith during the months of July and August, due to school holidays and summer breaks around this time. We observe a small spike in travel during the short Eid break as well, after Ramadan.