Miral Destinations CEO Liam Findlay tells us how his team continuously deliver exemplary services
Miral Destinations, the trusted one-stop trade and promotional partner for Saadiyat Island and Yas Island Abu Dhabi, is highlighting key developments presented by both award-winning destinations at ITB Berlin, taking place from March 7 - 9. The company presented key trade initiatives for 2023 at the exhibition, along with recent updates on Yas SeaWorld ® Research & Rescue, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi , which has recently opened its doors earlier in February this year
BTN caught up with their CEO Liam Findlay to find out why the destination and its star attractions are having such great success.
Abu Dhabi’s leading curator of experiences, has seen its theme parks and attractions recognized in six regional categories at the prestigious World Travel Awards 2020. As one of the world’s leading leisure and entertainment destinations, Yas Island received the ‘Middle East’s Leading Tourism Development Project 2020’ award, acknowledging its stellar portfolio of theme parks, attractions and developments, curated by Miral.
The awards were bestowed in recognition of the diverse range of world-class theme parks and attractions on offer, including Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, which was named the ‘Middle East’s Leading Theme Park 2020’ and is home to the world’s fastest rollercoaster Formula Rossa. Yas Waterworld, the world’s first Emirati-themed water park, has also won the award for ‘Middle East’s Leading Water Park 2020’. While Warner Bros. World™ Abu Dhabi, the world’s largest indoor theme park, received the award for the “Middle East’s Leading Tourist Attraction 2020’. As for the record-breaking adventure hub CLYMB™ Abu Dhabi, it was recognised as being the “Middle East’s Leading Adventure Tourist Attraction 2020”.
Qasr Al Watan has also been awarded the ‘Middle East’s Leading Cultural Tourist Attraction 2020’ at the event. The cultural landmark received this prestigious award in less than two years since opening its doors to the world in March 2019.
BTN: In light of your accomplishments, how have you shared this incredible news with your employees; the employees that help make your destination and its attractions so popular and such a huge success?
LF: As with every new milestone, we take pride in our collective efforts, and we congratulate our colleagues who continue to follow one shared goal; delivering best-in-class experiences. Being awarded at the prestigious World Travel Awards 2022 is yet another testament to every team member’s hard work across all our assets and we are honored that our destinations and attractions were recognized in six individual categories. On such occasions, the news is shared through our internal communications, and we celebrate these achievements with the wider Group. We also host the ‘WOW’ awards every quarter to recognize our employees’ achievements across Miral and we hold annual gala celebrations to celebrate our exceptional performances and reward high-performing colleagues. The success of our award-winning attractions is primarily driven by the dedication of a passionate team that delivers exemplary and holistic experiences designed for every preference. Be it through cultural events, leisure and entertainment offerings or family-friendly experiences, our team is the reason behind our achievements today and every day.
BTN:With brands as strong as Warner Bros. World™ Abu Dhabi, Yas Waterworld, Ferrari World Abu Dhabi among others, how difficult is it to reengage with your visitors/customers, to offer them something new and to get them to return time and time again? How do you begin to focus your marketing and promotion, covering such a wide base of attractions and services?
LF: Our guests have higher expectations every year and they look forward to unique experiences when visiting our award-winning theme parks. Keeping up with the curve and delivering new offerings is no easy feat, although the key to repeat visitations is continuously delivering exemplary services year-round. Evidently, launching a new attraction is effective to re-ignite our guests’ passion for entertainment, as seen with the launch of Mission Ferrari at Ferrari World Abu Dhabi earlier this year and the introduction of new fan-favorite characters at Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi. Nonetheless, our guests have grown to love seasonal campaigns such as the Winter Spectacular at Warner Bros. World last holiday season and similar events which are hosted every year across our leading entertainment attractions, such as IP-based theme parks Ferrari World Abu Dhabi and Warner Bros. World™ Abu Dhabi, as well as at the Emirati-themed waterpark, Yas Waterworld. To this end, we have ensured that our guest satisfaction rates remain high at all times, while working closely with our on-ground operations team to stay on top of growing demand.
BTN: How do you and your and team begin the year, is there a structure in place where you look at the visitor numbers you would wish to achieve as a whole and then a strategy regarding promotion, offers and special events that would be needed to meet these goals put into action or do you work in an entirely different way?
LF: Every year, we work with the Department of Culture and Tourism (DCT) as well as our B2B partners, trade agents and stakeholders in the UAE and the region, to ensure that our strategies and ambitions are aligned across every asset and campaign. We deliver a diverse portfolio of offerings as every market has different demands. As such, we work with our partners to attract audiences in key source markets and elsewhere, by ensuring that we are presenting the destinations’ wide spectrum of services as complementary offerings for every visitor. We also introduced ‘Yas Expert’, our patent B2B e-learning platform, which is designed for travel professionals; a unique program that can provide our partners with the right tools and skills to offer their clients a one-of-a-kind experience at Yas Island as certified Yas Experts. We are currently positioning Saadiyat as the capital’s luxury and cultural island destination and we are delighted to be recognized for the same as the ‘Leading Beach Destination’ by the World Travel Awards 2022. Working with our partners in each target market is pertinent to our success and maintaining regular check-ups throughout the year ensures that we remain on course to achieving our set objectives for 2023. In addition, we have dedicated sales teams stationed in India, the UK, Russia and China and we work closely with them to provide their clients with regular FAM trip opportunities, exclusive rewards programs and highlighting our services as attractive offerings for a wider range of audience.
BTN: How much time do you spend within the attractions themselves to reassure yourself that the high level of service and customer expectations are met?
LF: The success of our award-winning attractions is based on delivering best-in-class experiences and as such, our teams have been vigorously trained and are well equipped with the right skills to perform their best in their day-to-day interactions with every guest. The team and I receive daily reports to ensure that guests continue to enjoy the high standard of service that they expect with every experience at our leading attractions. With the expansion of our attractions and unique experiences, it is crucial to our growth that we ensure our close involvement along with every department to maintain synergy with every function of our business.
BTN: I assume you work closely with the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism who have a very strong presence in international markets; is this an area of collaboration that you see developing further as future new projects come on stream?
LF: As mentioned, we work daily with our partners at every source market to present our regular updates and attractive offerings to our guests all over the world. We have a longstanding relationship with the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism and are working together to further reinforce our leading position and connect with international travelers to showcase the myriad of offerings at Yas Island and Saadiyat Island and position both destinations on the global map of culture and tourism.
Part of our efforts is to support Abu Dhabi’s overall vision for growth; therefore, we have formed a partnership with Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism and are proud to showcase our shared vision at ITB. Through this collaboration, we aim to highlight the unique cultural and tourism offerings of Abu Dhabi and demonstrate our commitment to promoting responsible tourism practices. Our joint presence at ITB serves as a platform to showcase the synergy resulting from this partnership, and to showcase the exciting opportunities available to visitors to Abu Dhabi.
BTN: It is plain to see from the above that the team behind these incredible attractions and services leave no stone unturned when it comes to delivering the best customer experience you can possibly receive, not just for today but for tomorrow and all the tomorrows to come.
I for one can’t wait to get back and savour the experiences on offer.