Breaking Travel News

Breaking Travel News interview: Asim Arshad, chief executive, Orient Travel

Breaking Travel News interview: Asim Arshad, chief executive, Orient Travel Asim Arshad, chief executive, Orient Travel speaks exclusively to Breaking Travel News

Having taken a clutch of trophies at the World Travel Awards earlier this year, Orient Travel has cemented its position the United Arab Emirates’ leading travel management company.

Here Breaking Travel News sits down with chief executive Asim Arshad to discuss the reasons behind the brand’s success and what the future holds for the rapidly developing Middle Eastern tourism market.

Breaking Travel News: Perhaps we can begin with just a brief overview of Orient Travel? Could you give our readers an idea of what it is the company does?

Asim Arshad: Established in 1963, Orient Travel has evolved into one of the most reliable and known corporate travel brands in the UAE throughout its journey of the past 51 years. 

With 25 strategically located offices across the seven emirates of the UAE and through our dedicated team of more than 300 travel professionals supported by advanced technology and our global partnership with CWT, we create travel service programs focused on quality travel management, increased efficiencies and cost savings that benefit our diverse customer base. 

Orient Travel handles some of the largest corporate travel portfolios in the country, as well as managing GSA representation of over a dozen international airlines. 

Orient Travel partners with proven technology providers who offer flexible solutions that directly align to the clients’ travel requirements, thus enabling us to focus on improving our clients travel management programs and delivering effective solutions for all parties.

Orient Holidays through our well experienced consultants offer vacations and leisure breaks that are tailored to our customers’ needs at the most competitive rates available. 

Our MICE Team have exceptional knowledge and expertise to design and execute all type of group travel, be it Dealer Incentive groups, Product Launch or a simple holiday incentive for staff. 

BTN: Orient Travel is now well established in the Middle East and Dubai in particular? Where do your clients tend to travel to? Have you seen this change over time?

AA: The majority of our clientele in Sharjah and north Emirates are UAE nationals and their first choice is Europe.

USA has also started to pick up this year as a destination.

The Far East, Sri Lanka and Turkey are all-time favourite destinations for short breaks.

Our clients in Dubai mostly tend to travel to Europe and Far East.

Now, since British and Schengen consulates have relaxed the rules for UAE nationals, there is a big shift to Europe especially during summer to beat the heat.

This year we have seen some interest for USA and Japan as well.

Orient Travel puts its success down to its staff in the Middle East

BTN: As the Middle East grows in affluence, do you see this affecting the travel habits of the community there?

AA: There is a definite change in the travel habits of the community here.

The frequency of travel has increased.

Low cost-carriers have created an incremental market segment.

Furthermore, the leisure segment has shown a sizeable growth and the trend among the affluent clients is to opt for luxury holidays including top end services and luxury brands.

BTN: Which inbound tourism destinations do you see growing in importance in the near future for Orient Travel?

AA: Orient Travel is not directly involved with inbound tourism whereas our sister concern Orient Tours, the Destination Management Company, promotes UAE in the European, Japanese and Far Eastern markets. 

Obviously Dubai has been the most popular destination, but lately Abu Dhabi and Ras Al Khaimah also have been of great interest to the global tourists. 

Orient Travel tasted success at the World Travel Awards Middle East Gala Ceremony 2014

BTN: World Travel Awards recently recognised Orient Travel as the United Arab Emirates’ Leading Business Travel Agency. How did it feel to take this title?

AA: In 2013, Orient Travel won two of the most coveted World Travel Awards, taking the titles of ‘United Arab Emirates’ Leading Travel Management Company and ‘Dubai’s Leading Travel Management Company’.

Not surprisingly, again in 2014, we have been awarded in three categories: ‘Dubai’s Leading Travel Management Company’, ‘United Arab Emirates’ Leading Travel Management Company’, and ‘United Arab Emirates’ Leading Business Travel Agency’.

We are always excited to receive more recognition every year, because it is a tribute from our customers for their trust in us, and at the same time we have to keep polishing our skills to meet their growing expectations. 

BTN: What do you think it is about Orient which attracted voters? What is it that separates you from your competitors?

AA: Orient Travel has been the ‘travel management company of choice’ for over 400 corporate houses in the UAE. 

Besides the reliability and efficiency factors that embody our services offerings, we have also invested heavily in technology to offer the most flexible travel solutions to our customers. 

We also are involved in CSR initiatives such as sponsorship programmes supporting various communities, golf events etc., and have been bonded very close to all our stakeholders.

However, our biggest differentiator vis-à-vis competition is our people.

We are a very people-centric organisation and have the distinction of having a very high staff retention rate.

The place is full of fun and the work atmosphere enjoyable.

Our employees work in an atmosphere of freedom and respect, and therefore, stay with us longer.

This element gives the organisation its stability and longevity.