Dnata has pledged its long-term commitment to the Travel 2 and Gold Medal brands and revealed staff will start taking calls from customers in the Middle East.
The Dubai-based travel giant said it had spent tens of millions on a phone system to reroute calls from customers in the United Arab Emirates to its “expert staff” in Preston and Glasgow from next year.
Dnata also confirmed it had no intention to set up its own retail network or to massively expand its direct-sell brand Travelbag – strategies pursued by rivals Kuoni and Virgin Holidays.
Speaking first to Travel Weekly at the Global Travel Group Conference in Dubai this week, dnata divisional vice-president Iain Andrew said: “I have a great deal of respect for the quality of the travel staff in our UK businesses. So rather than closing either Preston or Glasgow, I would like to reroute some of the calls from our Middle East customers into those call centres.
“If UAE nationals could talk to someone who really understands the product and has been to the destination, that is a far better option.”
Commenting on the company’s commitment to the travel trade, Andrew said: “The quality of the British high street agent is fantastic, so why compete against it? We would much rather help our current retail partners than go and create our own store network.
“If anything, we want to work with the consortia even deeper.”
Andrew said two big focuses for dnata in the UK were Emirates Holidays and Travel Republic.
The company said investment in technology and resources had led to an 88% rise in UK passengers travelling with Emirates Holidays in 2015-16 over the previous year.
Andrew admitted Travel Republic had lacked focus over the past year while dnata had been focused on rolling out its advanced technology to the global business, allowing rival online agents like On the Beach and Love Holidays to gain an advantage.
“They have given us a run for our money but our focus is now firmly back on the UK business,” he said.
“When we first did the deal [in 2012], I was probably too eager to get Travel Republic to share its technology with the rest of the company to bring more capability to the Middle East. Now it’s time for them to focus back on their UK business, and they have a war chest of cash, technology and people to do that.”
Travel Republic is due to start a TV and radio campaign next month.
Asked if dnata was considering disposing of any of its businesses, Andrew said: “I don’t have any pressure to sell companies.”
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