Business unusual for Sheikh Bader’s Al Kaatib
Bahrain’s Al Kaatib Travel Agency recently reopened for business after remaining dormant for almost two years.
Owner Sheikh Bader bin Salman Al Khalifa is back where he belongs following a short stint with Gulf Air. He relaunched the agency on April 1.
Though he doesn’t regret his two years with Gulf Air, he is happy to be back at the agency, helping his clients enjoy their dream holidays.
Since relaunching last month, the agency is slowly regaining its past clients. “At the moment we are in the consolidation phase. We are reacquainting ourselves with the clients,” said Sheikh Bader.
Al Kaatib is no ordinary agency. “We are a boutique agency, catering to the high-end market,” continued Sheikh Bader, who is well-known in the industry for his amiability.
Shaikh Bader initially started the agency in 1986. “The business was difficult in the beginning but picked up later and we made a big name in the industry over the years with a good upmarket clientele.” Many of his clients looked up to this well-heeled gentleman for travel advice.
So what type of packages do his clients prefer? “There is no word called ‘package’ in our business. It’s all tailor-made to customer’s choice,” he said.
The agency, which is specialised in honeymoon tours and cruises, has won many awards from major cruise lines for selling the highest number of cruises. It has also won numerous awards for productivity from airlines.
“We are an agency dealing with a niche market. Our clients include royals, top businessmen, VIPS and senior government officials. Anyone who wants a personalised service comes to us. It is the hallmark of our business,” said Shaikh Bader. “We always go the extra mile.”
He is proud of the fact that his clients come back to him for his expert advice. “They depend a lot on our agency and the level of attention my staff and I give them. I make a point to call them after their holidays and enquire how they enjoyed it. This helps build a bond, a good rapport.
“Our staff and I have travelled all over the world and this helps in suggesting the right places for the tourists. We are able to provide them information which they may not get from the Net. It helps to sell the product when you know what you are selling,” he added.
Does he get requests to arrange tours to exotic places? “We have done cruises in Tahiti, Safaris in Africa, etc. It’s definitely a mix.” However, eco-tourism is not one among them.
He said there is increasing interest in India, Thailand and Australia among his customers.
Speaking further on the agency’s plans, he said Al Kaatib will soon launch a website and provide customers an option to ask for quotations. However, there will be no online bookings. “I believe personalised service is the key to my success and we will remain so,” Shaikh Bader concludes.
Tracing his association with Gulf Air, the national carrier of Bahrain, with which he was the general manager, Bahrain, from January 2005 to January 2007, he said: “I am happy that during my time in Gulf Air, I could produce record revenues for the company from Bahrain. I received excellent support from the then chief executive James Hogan and other senior officials.”
He said he gained from the experience. “I had the opportunity to look at things from the other side of the fence.”