Travel agent interview: Sheriff Moideen

The manager of Sharaf Travel's Ibn Battuta branch talks to Arabian Travel News about the impact of crazy fuel price hikes and the benefits of offering loyalty schemes to his clients.

Sheriff Moideen is the manager at the Ibn Battuta branch of Sharaf Travel
Sheriff Moideen is the manager at the Ibn Battuta branch of Sharaf Travel

The manager of Sharaf Travel's Ibn Battuta branch talks to Arabian Travel News about the impact of crazy fuel price hikes and the benefits of offering loyalty schemes to his clients.

What segment of the local market does your company target?

We target corporate business and some high-end walk-in clients. The aviation and travel industry is suffering from the recent hike in oil prices so when you have established relationships with clients these help to sustain your business when these tremors ripple through the market.

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What destinations are popular with your clients and why?

We get requests for a mix of all destinations worldwide, but Sharaf Travel is the GSA for many major carriers of the US (Delta Airlines), UK (Virgin Atlantic), Finland (Finn Air) and South Africa (South African Airways) so we try to focus our promotions around these destinations.

What changes in the market have you noticed recently?

Zero percent commission and the tremendously crazy hike in fuel prices. These are affecting our profit margins due to the increase in operational costs.

What are you doing to overcome this?

We are overcoming this situation by having strong business relationship with our valued customers and trade partners. We have made great efforts to build these relationships and to win their trust. As a result of these relationships our business will remain intact throughout this difficult period.

What do you think of Tanmia's threat to fine travel companies who don't employ enough locals?

It's a good move taken by the local government. Since the UAE tourism sector is growing tremendously, we need more local travel professionals to handle this demand. Tanmia's plan to train locals and to encourage travel companies to employ them is a good way to make that happen.

What is your company doing to tackle the direct-sell tactics of travel suppliers?

We have already launched a joint loyalty programme with First Gulf Bank (FGB), which is beneficial to everyone - the customer, the bank and ourselves.

We have a strong service relationship and business tie-ups with multinational companies and major corporations in the UAE. With this loyalty programme in place we can offer them a corporate credit facility and excellent after sales services if required.

What are your company's plans for the future?

Our main focus to secure more GSA arrangements with airlines and travel suppliers. We are also planning to spread our wings and expand throughout the entire GCC region, securing partnerships with renowned travel service providers in all the major cities.

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