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AIRPORT SHOW: Creating confidence and bubble-wrapping customers

Posted 24 May 2021 · Add Comment

The past 12 months have had a major impact on dnata, with ground handling dropping to around 50% of normal levels. While this is not a bad figure compared to other hubs, it did mean the company had to adjust - they ‘right-sized’ the business and pivoted into passenger cargo operations, filling passenger aircraft with cargo, even on the seats. The division had to adapt its business and invest in the new demand that was coming through

However, two areas of dnata have shown a very strong revival, as Tim Walker, VP Commercial & Business Development, Airport Operations, dnata, explained: “At marhaba, we looked at how we could reinvent our products and services with the COVID conscious in mind. That was eliminating many touch points, and giving almost a ‘bubble’ experience. How could we get you through the airport in the quickest, safest way?

“Traditionally marhaba’s success was driven around those who were foreign to Dubai, and needed help negotiating the airport. It was built on its ability to help people and ease that passage through the unknown. What we are finding now is that all sorts of people have a great need and desire to have their hand held through the airport, virtually, and to be expedited through check in, immigration, security and all the processes. The quicker you can get through, the fewer surfaces you can touch, the better you feel. So we have focussed our products and services, on our ‘bubble’ products.”

The result is astounding, with dnata recording a huge demand in per passenger ratio. Walker added: “The number of people using marhaba, as a percentage of all passengers, is around three times what it was preCOVID. It really shows that people require a little more confidence when travelling, but also that they put their trust in us. This is huge success for us.”

Another area benefitting from the COVID zeitgeist is DUBZ, the at-home check-in service. Walker said: “Depending on the airline you are travelling with, we can offer a range of different services. We recognised that many of the services that happen at the airport don’t have to. They could happen at home, such as check-in, luggage collection, screening processes, in the safety and comfort of your own environment.

“Now that people are avoiding airports, it is the perfect solution. With this new need for testing and certification we were able to partner with some medical institutions, so that DUBZ can come to you, we can do the COVID test and get you screened and certificated well before you travel. This means that when you turn up to the airport, your bags are already checked in, you are screened, you just go straight up to immigration and security and go on with your journey.”

The up-to-date knowledge of dnata has also been leveraged to build relationships with passengers.

Walker said: “dnata travel has launched a data hub for consumers to understand what you need before you travel, and offering up-to-date information. We have seen a lot consulting there, and building trust, which benefits our agencies and all the company. We have also been quite public in our ability to give refunds to customers.”

For Walker, being at the Airport Show is about reinvesting in the UAE, to show that the company has confidence that the rebound is going to happen. He said: “We want people to see that we are operating in a safe environment. The products and services that we offer as dnata have been reengineered with that safety conscious ideal, and it is not as scary as people may imagine.”


(Image: Jill Stockbridge)

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