June 14, 2021

Desert Adventures scales tourism business via cloud, web

The global COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the tourism business, but that hasn’t stopped Desert Adventures Tourism from expanding thanks to a move to the cloud, the adoption of travel management software, and recent, new partnerships with online travel agencies (OTAs) that include dynamic links to booking apps. 

Though tourism has taken a hit this year, the overall historic trend has been toward increasing international travel. Given the sheer scale of the industry, it’s now clear that technology provides the foundation for sustainable, optimal growth, and that digital transformation is a necessity for any travel business to prosper in a field that has become more competitive as OTAs proliferate.

Desert Adventures Tourism, based in Dubai, has undergone a digital transformation that has allowed it to expand its business, even during the pandemic.

“From the context of Desert Adventures (DAT), digital opportunities have offered to us the ability to enter new markets and service existing markets via new distribution channels,” says Senthilvelan Nandagopal, chief operating officer at Desert Adventures. Nandagopal notes, for example, that the company has reached new markets including Japan and South Korea via a  linkup with Rakuten, the e-commerce giant that offers online travel booking services.

In 2018, 1.3 billion people travelled out of their country for tourism reasons, according to the World Tourism Organization, which expects the number to grow to 2 billion by 2030. Desert Adventures’ business, destination management, is a vertical within the travel industry and according to Nandagopal, success depends on quality of service delivery.

Tech scales business without increasing staff

Traditionally, staffing has contributed 60 percent to 65 percent of operating costs in destination management companies, but Nandagopal says that technology has helped Desert Adventures scale up operations to handle multiple new destinations without having to increase staff costs.

“Over the last two years, we have invested a significant amount in ICT to create the ecosystem and infrastructure. Going forward, we are looking at an investment of a million dirhams on an annual basis to sustain and grow our technology journey,” Nandagopal says.

Desert Adventures traditionally was a B2B player catering to high-end tour operators, but OTAs have been dominant players in the travel industry for quite some time now, Nandagopal notes, and this has upended the travel business. “When it comes to customer interaction, personalization and ease of engagement are two key areas that will make a difference in the customer journey,” Nandagopal says. To improve customer interaction, Desert Adventures has built out its electronic-distribution capabilities, backed up by its traditional travel expertise.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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