CONSUMER DISCRETIONARY SECTOR
Abdullah Bin Nasser Aldawood
CEO, Seera Group
“The travel and tourism market in Saudi Arabia is growing tremendously and we are uniquely positioned to cover all the subsectors within it,” says Abdullah Bin Nasser Aldawood, CEO of Seera Group.
Seera Group’s vision is to be the leading travel and tourism company in the region, and the strength of its foundations come from maintaining a balanced portfolio of trusted brands that always aim to exceed customer expectations. Recognizing changing consumer habits, Aldawood notes how Seera Group has responded: “We are at the forefront in terms of investment in technology, and that is evident in all our online platforms across our various sectors,” he says. “We have invested heavily in innovative technology and human capital to expand our offering across the Kingdom and enable us to better serve our customers.”
Reflecting on the growth of the Kingdom and its prospects for the long-term sustainability of economic expansion, Aldawood believes businesses are already benefiting from the success of the Saudi Exchange. “It’s very positive because we’re getting capital from international investors, which will help increase our market value,” he explains.
That will provide access to capital that will allow us to invest further to develop the tourism sector in Saudi.”
The travel and tourism market in Saudi Arabia is growing tremendously and we are uniquely positioned to cover all the subsectors within it
One of the principal ambitions of Vision 2030 is to build a fair and equal society where people are respected and supported, which is why Seera Group takes pride in its dedication to the local community, which is evident through its various initiatives targeted at developing talent in Saudi Arabia.
For example, Seera Group runs the Almosafer Academy, a training program that fosters local talent in the tourism sector supporting the key Vision 2030 goal of increased Saudization. Additionally, its annual Jadarah Talent Accelerator Program trains and educates local talent in the travel and tourism sector to help them become future leaders of the industry and benefit the sector over the coming years.
“In addition to playing a key role in advancing our local talent, we intend to continue the development of the travel and tourism sector,” Aldawood concludes. “This is pursued through an omni-channel strategy, which is in line with our efforts to enhance our processes and create a seamless experience for our customers through something as simple as a digitally enabled branch to offer a unique experience within the sector.”
Seera is the leading provider of technology-led travel services in the Middle East and North Africa. Its balanced portfolio of brands covers consumer travel, business travel management, Hajj and Umrah, destination management, car rental, and hospitality. The group is regarded as the most knowledgeable and innovative travel service provider in Saudi Arabia, and it creates value for investors by investing in a large and growing regional travel market.
Since its branch re-launch in 2018, the group has sought out new growth opportunities, launching a dedicated business unit for religious travel as well as a destination management company for inbound and domestic tourism in the Kingdom. Its consumer travel business has grown from less than SAR 50 million in 2015 to around SAR 1.2 billion in 2020, while its car rental business, Lumi, has more than quadrupled its revenue since 2016.
Saudi Vision 2030 is focused on unlocking the true potential of the Kingdom’s tourism industry by promoting both inbound and outbound travel services, positioning Saudi Arabia to become one of the world’s leading tourism destinations. Hajj and Umrah tourism is a key opportunity, with the ambitious goal of 30 million pilgrims by 2030. Outbound leisure tourism is also set to grow, with the younger generation of Saudi nationals travelling more frequently than ever before.
Seera Group has invested in off-the-shelf technologies and built highly sophisticated customer-facing platforms, with its online business recording strong and consistent growth. It has also invested SAR 500 million in destination management services, including the development of assets such as tours, activity and entertainment sites, and more.
Human capital is another area of investment for the group. Its Almosafer Academy supports local talent and the development of skills, while the Jadarah talent accelerator program helps shape the leaders of tomorrow. To promote diversity in the workforce, Seera Group collaborates with organizations such as Women in Tech to focus on empowering women.
1 – Human capital
Seera Group is committed to developing Saudi talent in the travel and tourism industry. We run two programs that drive this agenda forward: Jadarah and Almosafer Academy.
In line with Vision 2030, which prioritizes the development of youth employment opportunities in the digital arena, Jadarah was founded by Seera Group in 2018 to foster and nurture the new wave of digital innovators and entrepreneurs from the Arab world. In its first cycle, the program attracted industry giants such as Google, Twitter, Amadeus, Step Group, and Udacity, which partnered with Jadarah to provide the candidates with tools to succeed in the digital space.
Through hands-on training with the region’s leading travel and tourism company, Jadarah trainees gain both technical and interpersonal skills in addition to industry-recognized credentials through workshops with the most tech-driven travel and tourism organizations around the world.
The 2019 cycle received over 2,500 applications from Arab regions, 40 percent of which were from female applicants – a great sign of healthy diversity across the talent pool in the region.
Seera Group is committed to further developing Jadarah as part of the group’s investment in human capital in Saudi Arabia and beyond, offering the next generation of industry leaders a fast-track career progression in the burgeoning digital economy.
Almosafer Academy, which offers a specialized recruitment program focused on shaping a new generation of Saudi male and female travel advisors, was developed to equip passionate Saudi nationals with the skills and industry knowledge they need to succeed and grow as travel consultants within the company.
SAR 1.2 billion The value of Seera’s consumer travel business in 2020
48 Saudi recruits from key cities such as Riyadh, Jeddah, and Makkah completed the first cycle of the program and will be placed as travel consultants in Almosafer’s retail network across the Kingdom. The program includes trips to top destinations identified by Almosafer as well as dedicated destination training sessions delivered by tourism boards and travel specialists, including Visit Britain, Dubai Tourism, Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority, Azerbaijan Tourism Board, Bahrain Tourism and Exhibitions Authority, as well as Experience Hub, the trade and promotion arm of Yas Island Abu Dhabi.
2 – elaa
Seera Group is revolutionizing corporate and government travel management in KSA with elaa by providing state-of-the-art travel technology solutions that are first of their kind in the Kingdom. With the development of smarter, tailored travel management products and seamless value-oriented services focused on the client’s bottom line, elaa works closely and smartly with public and private entities, leveraging Seera Group’s scale.
Elaa’s recently launched app and web platform offers unparalleled functionality to optimize operational efficiencies and provide a seamless end-user experience for business travelers. Replacing the time-consuming process of manual travel bookings, written sign-off, and physical documentation, elaa enables total automation of approvals, travel policy enforcement, and real-time status updates.
Elaa provides decision makers with the right data to reduce business travel costs, and for the first time in Saudi Arabia, government entities can manage their travel bookings electronically and travelers can search, select, and book their preferred flights and hotels using elaa. As the only C&G solution that offers bilingual (Arabic/ English) services in the market across channels including web, mobile app, retail branches, and via a 24/7 call center, elaa provides C&G clients cost optimization, transparency, and an enhanced business travel process.
As part of Seera Group, the leading travel and tourism group in the Middle East, elaa has access to a global network of hotel partners, airlines, transportation, and more travel services. Harnessing the power of Seera’s 40 years of travel management experience in KSA, elaa fulfills more than one million trips per year for over 400 government and corporate sector clients.
3 - Discover Saudi
Seera Group’s new destination management company, Discover Saudi, seeks to accelerate international inbound tourism as well as domestic tourism. The company is a SAR 500 million investment by Seera Group that supports the Saudi Vision 2030 goal of establishing tourism as one of the Kingdom’s key economic growth sectors.
The launch of Discover Saudi is part of Seera Group’s SAR one billion investment to drive tourism development in the Kingdom with a distinctive value proposition. The goal is to serve as the go-to company for inbound and domestic tour operators and travel agencies – as well as international and domestic visitors – and provide high-quality, rich, local experiences backed by seamless customer service.
With a focus on developing the Kingdom’s tourism ecosystem driven by the $300 billion capex allocated for tourism development until 2030, Discover Saudi addresses a clear white space in the industry today. In addition to offering curated experiences for international and domestic travelers, the new DMC which operates as a B2B service provider in partnership with travel agents in key source markets, will also cater to Hajj & Umrah pilgrims who are keen to explore Saudi Arabia beyond Makkah and Madinah provide business travelers with a great way to discover and explore the Kingdom’s rich cultural, touristic, and entertainment attractions.
Discover Saudi will create a robust infrastructure to support destination tourism services, and work with Saudi travel operators and government agencies to create tourism job opportunities and additional value for the economy.
With its network of contacts with hotels and resorts, Discover Saudi will realize its vision of being the ‘go-to-DMC for experiencing Saudi Arabia by 2022’ by providing tourists with high-quality experiences, offering a comprehensive service portfolio, and showcasing Saudi Arabia to the world whilst building an internationally recognized brand.
4 – Almosafer
A technology-driven, Almosafer is the flagship brand of Seera Group’s Consumer Travel Business Unit, catering to the needs of travelers from Saudi Arabia and beyond. Originated in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Almosafer has transformed from an online travel agency for Saudi customers, to a comprehensive travel services provider that offers a seamless user experience for travel bookings across state-of-the-art online platforms, call centers, whatsapp and retail locations.
Almosafer has successfully deployed fully integrated travel booking retail technology at its new interactive stores in key cities across Saudi Arabia, emphasizing its commitment to serve Saudi travelers by delivering a highly personalized and tailored customer journey even before they step into the branch.
Featuring an interactive in-store queuing management system, city guides that provide travel inspiration, digital video walls, screens showcasing the latest travel packages, and a centralized database for customers and their booking history, the retail branches are equipped to optimize operations and seamlessly integrate different stages of each customer’s booking.
Almosafer’s retail technology allows it to create personalized profiles for each customer using their previous online, offline, or call center travel booking history – even before they visit the retail branches. The human element plays a major factor in the success of Almosafer’s retail technology across its branches in Saudi Arabia.
To ensure customers are receiving a more flexible and personalized booking experience, Almosafer is developing and certifying young Saudi nationals through the Almosafer Academy bespoke training & employment program, which the company uses to hire and train the right talent to become part of the brand’s integrated customer journey. These experienced travel advisors are well informed about global destinations and can make recommendations based on customers’ preferences, making their in-store interactive journey more enjoyable.
Seera Group employs more than 4,000 people, representing 47different nationalities