Construction delays a big headache

Disneyland Paris is one of the destinations distributed by Al Rostamani Travel

Spokesperson: Heinz Gabel, general manager, Al Rostamani Travel and Holidays

How has business been over the past year?
Al Rostamani Travels had a very good year in 2007 and we were able to out perform the market quite considerably. This was achieved by the loyalty of our existing clients, which rely on our experience and outstanding service offered by our travel consultants, as well as signing up new accounts and exploring new fields of business.

Do you have any expansion plans?
Last year had encouraged us to further expand in the UAE. We are opening several new branches in Dubai and the other emirates. Also, our office in Abu Dhabi has just been moving to bigger premises on Electra Street to service our corporate clients even better and also to give the retail customer a new experience in our newly designed shop.

Is the shortage of rooms for visitors to the UAE a significant issue?
In high demand periods, it can prove to be difficult to find the appropriate rooms for our customers. However, due to our great relationships with our suppliers, we manage to find a suitable accommodation and keep our clients happy.

How much of your business is carried out on the internet now?
Unlike in other markets, the direct bookings here in the UAE are contributing a relatively small portion to our total business. However, we see that the internet will become more popular in a very short time and are preparing ourselves accordingly to offer the client a variety of booking options. We are giving him the choice of having a face to face consultancy, book over the phone or via email and of course also through the internet. We are currently working to re-launch our website with new services and make it even easier and safer for the customer to book through the net.

What are the biggest problems facing you this year?
 The big challenges for us are the delays in the construction sector. We are planning to move our head office to new premises and to open new branches, but most projects have been slightly delayed. As we have reached our capacity limits in our current offices, we are not able to get the new staff on board as quickly as we desire.
In addition, like many other companies in this country, we find it difficult to recruit suitably qualified staff in sufficient numbers to drive the expansion of our business. We are going to great lengths to recruit employees directly from other countries in order not to suffer a slow down in our development due to lack of manpower.