Start Listening when Guests Tell You What They Want

July 28th, 2014

We were quite proud of ourselves when we recognised that there was a huge gap in the safari industry in Dubai. Noticing that all safaris focussed on dune bashing, bellydancing and tanura dancing (both from Egypt), getting drunk in the desert, sampling an “international” cuisine and jamming as many people into a camp as possible, all under the guise of a “Bedouin experience”; we realised there was a better way. What resulted is what you see today, our Platinum Collection which focuses on pampering our guests in the utmost luxury, and our Heritage Collection, focussing on authenticity, conservation and local community involvement. However, it seems that our skills at predicting guests needs didn’t stretch to camel riding.

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Camels ride across the Dubai Desert at sunset

We were becoming ever more frustrated when we read comments from our guests on Tripadvisor, Viator and via email about wanting longer camel rides on our safaris. We knew that camel riding was uncomfortable for long periods of time, we knew that camels cannot see at night (about as good a night vision as humans) so we couldn’t go over the dunes at night fearing a camel will trip over (it can happen), we knew that our guests would complain with no commentary or explanations for 45-60 minutes. What we did not know, is that we were wrong!

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will present the U.S. premiere of a new digital restoration of Columbia Pictures' 1962 Best Picture winner "Lawrence of Arabia" on Thursday, July 19, at 7:30 p.m. at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills. Pictured: Peter O'Toole in a scene from LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, 1962.
The Fantasy of riding a camel into the desert all started with Lawrence of Arabia

Since Lawrence of Arabia (the movie, not the actual British soldier), people have romanticized and fantasized about riding a camel across pristine sand-dunes into the sunset. It is the archetypal activity for anyone visiting Arabia. We underestimated the power of guests desire to fulfil this fantasy and none of the negatives listed above would detract people from trying. Reluctantly, because of course we knew better, we started our Camel Safari. Who would ever want to ride a camel for 45-60 minutes instead of riding in beautiful vintage Land Rovers? Well, the answer is more than 500 of our guests over the last 6 months have now chosen to participate in the safari we didn’t think anyone would enjoy.

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Camel caravan through the Arabian desert

The success of this safari and the subsequent 5 star reviews on Tripadvisor and Viator reinforce a very important lesson in business. Listen to your guests! We can continue to cite Steve Jobs (“People don’t know what they want until you show it to them”) and/or Henry Ford (“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”) but by doing so, we would forget why we are in business in the first place; to enrich the lives of our guests by fulfilling their dreams and fantasies of travelling to Arabia. We continue to adjust and enhance our experiences by listening to our guests. It does not matter how many awards we win, how many 5 star reviews we receive; I am still deeply troubled by every negative experience/review we receive and will endeavour to listen to our guests so we can provide the ultimate desert experiences.

Written by

Adam McEwan
Managing Director
Platinum Heritage

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