THE next few years will separate the men from the boys, Peter Payet, chief executive of Desert Adventures, tells TTN in an exclusive interview.
“Currently we are not very prominent in the local market,” he says frankly. “So I am concentrating on strengthening the product here and servicing the local market, so that our brand name becomes more familiar with people. I can so far as say that the local market will be 10 per cent of our business. I am talking about corporate conferences, excursions, desert safaris, team-building exercises, everything.”
Payet, who hails from Cyprus, had been with Emirates for 22 years, most recently as senior vice-president of Arabian Adventures. In search for a new challenge, he moved to Kuoni Travel’s Desert Adventures destination management company as CEO a bit more than three months ago.
As CEO, Payet is responsible for setting up Desert Adventures offices in Dubai, Jordan and Oman, and eventually look for other regional growth opportunities in the region. “The market is a bit soft at the moment,” says he, “but Bahrain, Qatar and even Iran are possibilities in the future. There’s definitely a good market there.”
The focus for him right now is to set up the inbound offices well.
POSSIBLE SOURCE MARKETS
“For getting customers, however, Australia continues to be a big market. It has good potential in terms of market share and I will be trying to get a share of that business. I believe there is more business out there that is still to come to Dubai, a lot more work to be done.”
China also tops the chart in terms of source markets.
“I just read that by 2020 China is going to have a significant increase in the number of passengers going out of the country, and this is good news for us, as Dubai should be getting a good chunk of that business.”
As senior vice-president of Arabian Adventures, Payet played a major role in managing the Nu Skin conference from China last year. “I feel there is a lot we can do at the moment. Where I see good potential is the UK, which is up 10 to 12 per cent now.
“As for the CIS countries, I don’t see any major movements this year. No one was prepared for such a quick drop from that market. Even if it does pick up, it may be towards the end of this year,” says he.
“What’s happening in CIS right now is that there are companies going bust, some people have been asked not to leave the country, the whole situation is not conducive to travel. Whether you talk of Russia or Ukraine, from the operators I see, there are concerns that they may go bust. One went bust just few days ago.”
DIFFERENTIATION IS KEY
“When I came here I first said I do not want to make another Arabian Adventures here. We want to be different, it’s important to be different. What I will create here is something that we can be proud of.”
Desert Adventures is already working on some products that are fairly unique just to them, teases Payet, but it’s too early to reveal them.
Apart from having a unique selling point, to succeed in this market you have to be efficient at running the operation, he explains. “If we can run a lean and mean operation during the tough times, it becomes easier to work when the times are better.”
WHY CHOOSE THEM
“Having been in this market for so long, I have a reputation in the market and people trust me, that brings an edge to Desert Adventures.
“We’re running a more efficient system.
“Desert Adventures is a brand owned by Swiss company Kuoni. There are many players in the market who are doing well, but when the going gets difficult, they pack their bags and go. We are here to stay.
“I just want to tell our customers that your business is safe with us, your clients are safe with us.”
“At Desert Adventures we are very strong on our three pillars: customer service, client relationship and supplier relationship. These should see us through this tough time.”
It is important to remember that tough times never last, tough people do.
By Rashi Sen
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