Disney recently partnered with Emirates Holidays to showcase a wide range of holiday packages to Disneyland Paris, Walt Disney World (Orlando) and Disneyland Resort (Anaheim) in the US, Hong Kong Disneyland as well the Disney cruise. Julien Munoz, international sales & marketing executive director, Disney Destinations explains to Travel Daily Middle East the need for increased awareness and on gaining increased market share.
The new Emirates Holidays brochure for Disney Destinations is just the starting point for a long journey ahead. The collaboration between two big companies – Emirates Holidays and Disney Destinations – paves the way for increased brand awareness and a boost in business. “You need a powerful partner in the airline segment which is a strong asset,” asserts Munoz.
“Our reach across the GCC region starts with representations in UAE, primarily Dubai. We also have a fair share of the market from Oman but our new area of interest is tapping into the Saudi Arabia market. This is a large and wealthy market coupled with a large travelling population. We would like more travel out of Saudi Arabia, in addition to other markets such as Qatar and Bahrain and Abu Dhabi,” said Munoz.
To ensure enhanced brand recognition, Disney Destination also carried out a road show across cities of Dubai, Riyadh, Jeddah and Kuwait. The road show was an interactive session with the travel trade in key cities. Travel agents across the cities were taken through new developments and packages on offer for the summer. As Bruno Hivon, regional manager destination development at Emirates Holidays explains: “We, at Emirates Holidays do sell extensively throughout Saudi Arabia and also Dammam, Bahrain, Qatar and Oman. We also go beyond with the range of Disney products in these regions. To further intensify our efforts, we have produced a brochure which is available both in English and Arabic.”
Disney has seen an increased uptake for Disneyland Paris due to its proximity. However, the company also showcases its parks in Hong Kong, Orlando and the Disney Cruiseline focusing on the Mediterranean cruise.
Expectations for 2013
Munoz explains that there is room for growth from this region. “We want to offer the perfect family vacation. Once a visitor has come to Disneyland the experience is encompassing. We also have a lot of repeat guests every year. One can very confidently say that Disney is an inspiring product which has been in existence for many years.”
The parks are keen to welcome more Arab visitors. As per current statistics, the parks welcome two types of visitors – The guests that stay at Disneyland Paris resorts and visiting guests who come to the parks as part of their trip to Paris.
Catering to the Arab traveler
The parks have a cosmopolitan offering. “We definitely switch to catering to the Arabic market in the summer. However, we do not serve Halal food at the moment but our many properties feature a range of Arabic cuisine. We have also noticed that the Arab guests like experimenting with food. There is also specific attention being given to these customers,” adds Munoz.
Elaborating further Hivon explains: “We have also extended our portfolio of properties so that we can cater to not just the Arabic market but also expatriates across all the regions. The Asian or Western customers also have specific requirements so we cater to all. We are confident that there will be a product in demand.”
The Disney product is continually evolving every year. This means there needs to be increased and continuous brand awareness in the markets. “Our job is now is to keep track that people from the trade are update with all the latest information. To cater to this, we have our Disney stars program which is an elearning program providing the developments on the product. The program also allows you to get into different levels of detail. We also invite agents to come and experience the product once a year. This is an on-going activity,” explains Munoz.
Disney recently hosted around 20 Emirates Holiday agents across the GCC to experience the product and understand what the destination.
Munoz asserts that there are no plans to expand into the Middle East as right now the company is focusing on Shanghai. Other plans include expanding existing destinations such Disney California, the DCA has gone through an extension with Cars land; World Disney is undergoing a massive extension with the Magic Kingdom. This is a year three-year program, a part has been released this year and the last bit will soon be revealed. Disneyland Paris is also undergoing extension of its Walt Disney studios and latest addition of Toy Story land. And finally, the Disneyline Cruise has expanded from two to four ships. The new Disney vacation club in Hawaii has also been opened.