Spokesperson: Mishal Kanoo, deputy chairman, the Kanoo Group, UAE & Oman
How has business been over the past year?
I am very happy to say that we have achieved a more than 20 per cent increase this year over last. This has been due to the relentless hard work of both the members of Kanoo Travel and the buoyant market that we are now enjoying.
Do you have any expansion plans?
As you are aware, we are still the region’s biggest travel house and we intend to stay there, God willing. To be able to do so, we need to be where our customers are and to that end we will expand the number of locations accordingly.
How do you cope with the shortage of rooms (UAE)?
This is a major problem for all and this is a situation that should be resolved quite quickly as more hotels are added to the region. We do believe in being proactive so we seek to talk to hotels and see how we can best serve their needs and by default, they serve our customer’s needs.
Do you have a shortage of personnel?
There is never a shortage of people. The problem is a shortage of QUALIFIED people who can best serve our customers. Thus we have standards that we look for in people who we hire and keep on training them to best serve our customer’s needs.
How much of your business is carried out on the internet now?
Unfortunately, the internet has not picked up to the degree that most businesses would like to see in the Gulf. Issues such as trust and currency are major stumbling points but I do foresee that these issues will be overcome soon.
What are the biggest problems facing you this year?
Our biggest situation that we, and indeed, all travel agents in the Gulf face is the issue of coordination. Till now nearly each airline has its own system that is incompatible with the others and thus getting the best price for our customers is hard because what you get as an agent and what they as an airline offer can differ greatly. This makes the travel agent either look very good or very bad. I hope that this issue can be resolved quickly.
Another issue is that of lack of coordination between travel agents themselves which allow certain people to exploit this difference. While on the surface this might be good for those customers who have the time and don’t mind legging it to find even small differences in pricing, but the overall majority who want to get the best value for their money end up feeling duped.
This is a problem that we as conscientious travel agents care about and do not like the idea that any of our customers feel that. Our aim is to give our customers the best value for their money and keep them coming back.
To that end we try to train our associates to go out of their way to help our customers get the best deal possible at the time.