EMIRATES & KOMPAS STOPOVER PROGRAM SEES WESTERN GROWTH
'One stop shop’ Dubai program has at all covered- from visa processing to hotel and land tour packages
The program enables passengers to experience the vibrant Middle East city as a stopover in conjunction with another Emirates destination, either inbound or outbound, and has seen a marked increase in growth from Western Canada.
HelloWestTravel.com caught up with Don McWilliam, Emirates’ manager - Canada, and Robert Zuzek, president, Kompas Express, to hear all about the Dubai Stopover Program.
“We’ve had the program throughout the different regions of the world that we’ve been operating with Emirates for a number of years, but we’ve never had the Dubai stopover program in Canada,” McWilliam said.
Emirates has an interline partnership with WestJet, connecting passengers from Western Canada to Toronto for the non-stop flight to Dubai. Passengers can opt to take the Dubai stopover package either inbound or outbound and connect beyond to India, Africa, Asia, Australia or New Zealand.
“As a result of this interline partnership we’re seeing very nice positive growth out of Western Canada - Vancouver, Edmonton, Kelowna, Regina, Winnipeg, Saskatoon and Calgary and Victoria," McWilliam said. "We’re starting now to move passengers over Seattle and Western Canada with Alaskan Airlines. We have Alaskan over Seattle and WestJet throughout Western Canada, which has brought a marked increase in interest and sales for Dubai.”
“Emirates has increased its capacity in Western Canada, which is facilitating new trade links between Western Canada and Dubai, and the Dubai stopover package is part of that. It’s really creating this new flow of passenger traffic,” he added.
Agents can book Emirates directly by calling Kompas Express with their PNR, and Kompas takes over from there for booking packages in Dubai and points beyond.
“It’s been very successful, it’s all about this one-stop shop convenience with the wide range of accommodations and excellent connections now that we have out of Western Canada,” McWilliam said.
Last year, the UAE government brought in Visa restrictions for Canadians, so Emirates set Kompas Express up as fulfillment centre for all of Canada, and travel agencies can call the centre and get clients’ Visas processed through Kompas in addition to booking land packages.
Visa processing required for Canadians to enter the UAE takes a minimum of five business days.
“We aren’t trying to shift any business away from the travel agency community in Western Canada," McWilliam added. "We know that once [agents] develop the confidence of booking through Kompas Express’s fulfillment centre, that they will feel very comfortable. They can do their own tickets - they can be compensated for that on a commission basis, and they are compensated through Kompas on a commission basis."
Zuzek explained to HelloWestTravel.com the products and services offered through the Dubai Stopover Program.
“It’s a one stop shop," he said. "We have access to over 60 of the best hotels in Dubai with a whole range of prices-also other land services. Calls from Western Canada have really picked up, and we are glad to work with agents from the West. We welcome all Emirates’ passengers, however they have booked.”
“Agents can book directly, or through consolidators. All we require, as purveyor of the DSO is an Emirates’ record locator which is used to build the file for what we need to do including the visas, and we require that the passengers arrive and departs Dubai on Emirates Airlines,” he added.
Passengers have the option to take desert safari and other land tours that can be bought in conjunction with the stopover. With the sun-downer dinner safari, clients can watch the sunset over the desert and have dinner in a Bedouin camp with belly dancers providing entertainment as sun goes down, for example.
There’s also an Arial tour of Dubai, sand-riders, dune buggies, and excursions to Abu Dhabi and the East Coast of Dubai on the Indian Ocean.
According to Zuzek, one of the myths about Dubai is that it’s an expensive destination, but the reality is that it is surprisingly affordable. Hotel prices begin at US$39 per person based on double occupancy.
“With booking of the packages that we offer, everything is included. Even the airport transfers are particularly distinct from destination, say in Europe. The passenger is met by one our ‘red jackets’ in Dubai airside just before immigration, and escorted through as they have a copy of the issued visa," Zuzek said. "The arrival is at B Tower, and saves time going through immigration- they are whisked off to a waiting limo that takes them directly to the hotel. In many cases, if the hotel is not far from the airport, it’s not unusual for passengers to go from the aircraft to the hotel in less than an hour."
In Dubai, Kompas distinguishes itself from other service providers by wearing a red uniform. All guides have a visible presence, and are multilingual.
“They make our customers feel at home. The ease with which you can do this really makes this product a winner,” Zuzek said.
For more information on the program, visit uaestop.com or call 1-800-387-6731.