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Interview: Emirates Airline’s Bob Kabli on travel trends and tourism recovery

End-to-end travel packages are trending, says Kalbi

Emirates Holidays, the tour operating arm of Emirates Airline, has been offering personalised holidays based around the airline’s global network spanning the Indian Ocean, Europe, Asia, America and Africa for more than 30 years. Connecting Travel spoke to Bob Kabli, Emirates Airline senior vice president of online sales development, about current travel trends and why end-to-end travel packages are becoming evermore popular.

Connecting Travel: What does Emirates Holidays offer the traveller?
Bob Kabli: 
We offer leisure holiday options through customised packages, which include hotel stays, air tickets, tours and transportation. All of Emirates Holidays packages include flights with Emirates, with the option to earn Skywards miles with Emirates’ award-winning loyalty programme.

CT: What’s your client demographic?
BK:
Emirates Holidays offers a wide range of packages across its global network of more than 30 markets, so our clients belong to all different demographics. We curate specialised packages for all types of holidays, romantic getaways, family-friendly vacations, adventure holidays. We even have options for solo and group travellers.

CT: What trends are you currently seeing?
BK: 
We find that travellers prefer longer holidays to compensate for the lack of travel over the past two years. Initially, we saw smaller groups or couples travelling, however, that shifted to larger groups and families over the course of this past summer, especially as schools closed for holidays. Groups of friends also travelled more with the opening of more destinations.

People are now shifting from last-minute bookings to better planned, longer lead holidays as confidence increases

When travellers book earlier, they’re getting better deals, and they know that with Emirates Holidays, they have the flexibility of Emirates flights and hotel stays, as well as securing a good price.

CT: What trends do you expect to see in future?
BK: 
Currently, travellers are looking for enriching travel experiences with their loved ones and longer stays at resorts. We expect to see this trend continue in future.

In terms of destinations, the selection seems to lean more towards dream destinations, hidden gems and nature-focused activities

Booking directly with the airline has become the preferred option just in case of any future disruptions but end-to-end travel packages are also becoming more popular with people looking for one-stop shops for all their travel needs: tickets, hotels and transportation.

Another trend we see developing in the future, especially following the pandemic, is that travellers pay extra attention to their hotel selection, with cleanliness and safety being at the top of their minds and curating their choices around these factors.

In addition, there’s growing interest in extra services, such as check-in from home to save time at the airport, and use of fare guarantee to minimise the risk from a customer point of view.

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CT: What can best aid the recovery of the travel sector?
BK: 
Currently, each country has its own travel requirements and health regulations, which may sometimes lead to confusion to customers. Setting unified guidelines would help ease the process of looking for and booking holiday destinations.

Consumer confidence is important to increase travel demand; such confidence comes from trusted brands

Emirates Holidays considers travellers’ health and safety to be the highest priority and has prioritised it at every step of the travel journey. This includes enhanced measures on board Emirates to ensure passengers’ comfort, hand-picked partners who meet high standards of care and safety, flexible booking policies to accommodate possible changes in travel plans and 24/seven customer support.

CT: What is your most popular package?
BK: 
Since last year, the Maldives and Seychelles have been extremely popular as these destinations offer great outdoors experiences and reinforce safety protocols like social distancing. We have also seen great interest and demand for Dubai as the destination offers an ever-expanding list of experiences for all ages and backgrounds. Dubai is also hosting the world’s greatest show, Expo 2020 Dubai, and Emirates Holidays offers a complimentary Expo day pass with every holiday booking.

CT: What trip would you recommend for couples?
BK: Take the opportunity to travel independently and visit a number of exciting locations with a self-drive itinerary in the United States or Continental Europe.

CT: And for families?
BK: Africa offers a wide selection of safaris experiences where the “young” and the “young at heart” can immerse themselves in nature and live unique experiences, such as the great migration in Kenya and Tanzania or gorilla treks in Uganda.

CT: What about trips for luxury and budget travellers?
BK: Sit back and enjoy the view from your Jacuzzi or private pool in one of the many upscale resorts in the Indian Ocean, if you’re looking for luxury.

For budget travellers, as destinations in Asia start to open their borders to international visitors, there’s a window of opportunity to experience the culture and nature that these gems have to offer at an attractive price point.

For more information, visit www.emiratesholidays.com

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