Tim Lowther, Manager Leisure Market and Special Segments in Emirates Global Sales, talked to WYSE Travel Confederation during WYSTC to explain why supporting the annual event makes great business sense.
For Emirates this market sector is hugely important for two key reasons.
Firstly, as our business is growing enormously we have huge capacity around the world. We are the only carrier that flies to all continents and this makes us a good fit for young travellers. Dubai is well placed for those looking to use Emirates to fly from East to West or North to South.
Secondly, young travellers today are the family and corporate travellers of tomorrow so it’s really important for us to work in this space. They really are the future of travel and we want them to take their first flight – as well as their last – with us.
With the student market a constantly replenishing market, we have been particularly concentrating on it and we have seen strong growth, with approximately a 50% increase year on year. Our global youth product has been around for the last five years but we keep tweaking it as the market evolves.
More flexibility with airfares
For this market we know that it’s not really just about finding the cheapest fare but value for money. I think part of our success is therefore down to the fact we have introduced more flexibility with airfares to allow young travellers to change their dates and routes and have brought in different suppliers so they have more contact potential. We are also moving away from traditional channels, with more and more sales coming from online channels.
Events such as WYSTC help us understand what changes we need to make as the industry moves forward. It is also very interesting for us to meet smaller companies, such as those that organise cultural exchanges. Up until getting involved in these events we didn’t really have too many chances to talk to these businesses directly so coming to WYSTC enables us to talk to them to find out what their requirements are and what we can do to help meet them.
The whole globe covered by exhibitors and delegates
Sydney was our first foray into WYSTC and we didn’t necessarily know what to expect. This meant that with Dublin we were able to be more focused and meet with more suppliers relevant to our market. I think there was perhaps an even more diverse range of companies from all over the world at this year’s conference and it’s definitely been very useful for us to have the whole globe covered by exhibitors and delegates. We’re really looking forward to Cape Town where we’ll be able to be even more focused still.
Dublin has been such a fantastic location and a great fit for this year’s conference, being such a key youth travel destination. Whereas last year we only really got to meet the students on the last day, we found that a lot of the Irish student volunteers helping out at WYSTC 2014 have come over to what with us about opportunities. They seem very interested in working abroad and travelling whereas it struck us that a lot of the Australian students last year were more focused on finding jobs within Australia.
What we have taken away from this year’s event is that youth still want to travel and the world is getting smaller as technology makes it even easier to do so. These advances also mean they’re now not as cut off from the rest of the world as they once were when travelling in remote destinations.
A lot of young people are now well travelled so are looking for a different experiences and they want something more adventurous than they did 10-20 years ago. We have heard that lots of companies who were previously focused on working holidays have now diversified into volunteering and other activities as youth become more socially conscious than they once were.
Moving forwards, from an airline perspective we’re looking at our on-board product to make sure we refresh it as much as we can. Emirates has up to 1,800 channels on every aircraft and they are evolving so it’s really important to us to keep ahead of the competition. Like with everyone else who gathered in Dublin, the important thing is to work out how to differentiate your product to make a genuine difference.
The innovations we have heard about during WYSTC will benefit all of travel, not just the youth market. Perhaps the one I’m most excited about is that I think we will see a more streamlined process with check-in and immigration over the coming years thanks to technology. This will help certainly reduce the volume of questions as well as stress levels within the next five years which will be great progress.