Just last week, Platinum Heritage was crowned the Middle East Leading Desert Safari Company at the prestigious World Travel Awards for the second year in a row. While we always knew that we had a good chance of winning, we were thrilled when the official announcement was made.
However, driving home that night, I couldn’t help but think incessantly about a question a Journalist asked me immediately after receiving the award. It sounded like a simple question “What makes Platinum Heritage stand out amongst all other Safari companies in the Middle East”? However, the answer to this question goes to the core of who we are, what we do and more importantly, why we do it.
Who Are We?
Companies always say “our employees are our most valuable assets” but how many people really think that is true? I’ve been criticized before for supporting my staff instead of following the old adage “the customer is always right”. Working in customer service for over two decades, I can quite confidently tell you that they are not. Unfortunately, our staff have to deal with rude, entitled and abusive guests. Why people choose to behave this way on vacation, I will never know. What I do know is that we have a culture of treating our staff the way we want them to treat our guests. This means that we have a culture of respect, of listening to each other’s ideas, fears and concerns. This means we help each other out, offer above industry benefits and step in when a member of the team needs us most. What is the result of this? We have a team that genuinely cares about making our guests experience special, that will make sure that others in the team have the tools necessary to exceed expectations and a culture that encourages innovation, new ideas and ways to constantly improve our guests experience.
So who are we? We are a multi-cultural team from 31 countries who speak 26 different languages who really care about providing unforgettable memories to our guests.
What We Do
There are two principals that direct the type of experiences we offer; they must be both unique and high-quality experiences. There are countless ways that our experiences are unique; we are the only company offering a true Bedouin experience where guests can learn ancient Falconry, meet a friendly saluki hunting dog, try Emirati cuisine, participate in an authentic drumming session, learn about how Bedouins navigated via the stars and viewing the native flora and fauna of the UAE in iconic 1950’s Land Rovers, vehicles that changed the nomadic life of the Bedouin forever.
Offering high-quality comes naturally when you have a genuine respect for your guests. This means sourcing the best quality food, presenting clean and safe vehicles, well-trained staff, respectful and well informed reservation staff, knowledgeable and friendly guides, silk carpets to help avoid “carpet burn”, waterproof tent structures to keep guests dry and warm, blankets and jackets when our guests are cold, ponchos when it starts to rain and private and exclusive access to the most beautiful locations.
Why We Do It
I asked all of my staff to watch the inspiration talk from Simon Sinek, when he explains that people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. The reason that this was so relevant to us, is that our whole business was formed, not as a gimmicky way to make money, or to copy paste what had been done before us, but for a very specific reason. We started Platinum Heritage because we wanted to offer a sustainable business that honestly represented the culture and heritage of the UAE. Why did we feel that this was required? Well, most people don’t know but the standard dune bashing safari is a pure work of fiction, a fabricated concept that has no relevance to the Emirati culture. The serving of alcohol, a gyrating bellydancer (Egyptian),and tanura dancing (Egyptian) where a man twirls around in a dress covered with coloured lights, looking like a Christmas tree caught in a tornado; all have nothing to do with the culture of the UAE and are considered highly offensive to the local population. Dune bashing which is advertised as exciting and thrilling are certainly neither of those things for the native wildlife who are either buried alive or have their habitat destroyed.
So we started Platinum Heritage to protect the local environment and preserve the local culture and heritage. Everything we do is shaped by this mission; from becoming the only camp to run on solar power, to donating proceeds towards desert conservation, to offering authentic food and entertainment, to avoiding dune bashing or offering free tours to young students at local charity schools.
So there is no one answer to what makes us different. Instead, it is a collection of wonderful people who conduct unique and high-quality experiences to guests we respect in order to protect and preserve the unique environmental and cultural heritage of the UAE. Now, if only I had said that when I was interviewed.