Bringing one million tourists for Expo

At a recent interview with JVR Fernando, Chief Commercial Officer, Satguru Travel, one of the largest travel management companies covering over 80 locations in every continent, revealed its plans to ensure the maximum number of travellers are brought in during the six months of Expo 2020.

Shehara Rizly

What have you been working on over the past few months?

We have been concentrating on Expo, and we, as a group, are planning to bring in one million travellers in the next six months. We have over 80 countries in our network, and we have set goals for everyone. We have blocked hotel rooms, attractions, desert camps, and a huge fleet (we have our own fleet of buses) for city tours, dhow cruises, and other activities. We are gearing up to see how we can promote Expo. From our headquarters in Dubai, we intend to help this country by bringing in as many guests as possible, potentially one million in the following six months.

How do you plan to achieve this target?

We are not just promoting Expo as a holiday destination, so we have segmented it into different categories. Corporates, common travellers, B2B travel agencies, government institutions, schools and colleges are among the segments we have identified. We want to offer everyone something special. For instance, in the field of medicine, there are currently a slew of medical-related promotions taking place in Dubai. If you go to a company that sells medical equipment, supplies, or services, you will need to offer them a special presentation to entice them to visit Dubai and visit Expo.

If you are visiting the Ministry of Health, we will provide a different presentation, even though the core concept is the same, therefore we will create custom solutions to get their attention. If you apply the same principles to schools and universities, there are numerous areas where you might target your efforts. We have currently trained all of our employees in all branches to be able to advertise products based on customer needs, or tailor-made solutions, in order to reach this goal.

What is the importance of the focus on students?

We are aiming to attract a large number of school students so that we can provide them with a well-rounded educational experience through specialised educational tours. Showing Dubai and how a positive mindset can work, educating them on motivation, and showing them how Dubai used to be and what it is now, its growth in a brief period, and the way Dubai is leading the world today. The most important factor is the great nation’s visionary leadership; our goal is to deliver a value addition that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives. They get a vast array of knowledge about the destination and beyond in just four days.

What is your promotion strategy aimed at regular travelers, visiting Dubai during October-December?

These passengers will be visiting Dubai frequently, and we will recommend that they spend some time at Expo. Satguru, as the mother company, will introduce the product and oversee all of these concepts, but Satguru DMC Dubai will carry them out. They will handle all of the merchandise, excursions, drivers, hotels, etc.  It originates with Satguru for corporate sales, then travels to top travel destinations with B2B agents and travel wings for online customers. We follow the same formula all around the world.

What is the current scenario of medical tourism?

People are flocking to the UAE for medical tourism, and now that restrictions in India have been eased, people are turning to India as well. Many people seeking medical care travelled to the UAE because India was closed to the UAE and all other countries.

Are people willing to travel outside the UAE?

We are now focussing on outbound tourism in Dubai. People are now eager to travel outside of the UAE; previously, going outside the UAE was not a possibility, but now they are now confident. We anticipate a lot of leisure travel in the coming year, so we are actively promoting it through our DMCs in all of the countries where we are present. We encourage UAE visitors to visit countries where we already operate, such as Singapore, Bangkok, Indonesia, Cambodia, Morocco, Tunis, Tanzania, Kenya, Paris, the United Kingdom, Seychelles, and South Africa. These are
some of the outbound locations we are promoting in the UAE.

Has corporate travel increased?

As corporate travel resumed in 2021, I can say that about 80 per cent of business has returned. However, this percentage could be due to a variety of factors, including restructuring or staff movement from one location to another; in some cases, staff may have been in one area for a long time and will need to migrate; and other factors.

What is your new growth plan for post-COVID?

Our registration is complete, and we will begin operations in Israel within the next few days. After that, we will begin operations in Jordan and Syria. We have just been operational in Qatar and Muscat for three
months, and we are considering Kuwait as another Gulf location.

Have you begun any promotional activities in for FIFA 2022?

Yes, we have already begun to focus on FIFA. A large number of people will be travelling from Africa. We have partnered with a number of charter companies because most people do not want to stay in Qatar; instead, they would rather travel to Dubai and charter a flight to Qatar to watch the matches, then return to Dubai and fly home, resulting in a surge in visitors to Dubai during this time. Another promotion we are looking at is the T20 World Cup, and
more details will be available soon.

What is the current travellers trend?

Because both the UAE and Israel are nascent markets, we expect a lot of leisure travel between the two countries. UAE citizens have never visited Israel, and Israelis have never visited the UAE, so this will be a significant market. Another location where there will be a lot of leisure travel is between Morocco and Israel and vice versa. Travellers were price conscious prior to the pandemic, but now they are willing to pay a premium for the safety of the destination and the property they will be staying in, and they will conduct thorough research before deciding on the destination and other factors based on safety. In 2022, we believe we will have a significantly better year.

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