Soliman Travel

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Soliman Travel's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Soliman Travel is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

www.solimantravel.com

1SOLIMAN TRAVEL |
BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE
Co-founders Wagdy and Maria
Teresa Soliman
Explore the wonderful flora
and fauna of South America
with Soliman Travel
Soliman Travel is an independent, family-owned tour operator
providing tailored travel services to Latin America and the
Middle East. With representatives in London, Bogotá and
Cairo, the company has secured flight and holiday deals around
the world for the past 40 years. In 1979, Colombian sociologist
Maria Teresa Soliman co-founded Soliman Travel with her
Egyptian husband, Wagdy; she tells
The Parliamentary Review
more about the company’s work and itsjourney.
Undeterred by the male-dominated travel sector of the time, I set about founding
Soliman Travel 40 years ago. I realised that our success would depend on how
we distinguished ourselves from the competition, so I decided to offer specialist
and tailored tours – going against the grain of trends towards package holidays at
thetime.
We have stayed true to this model, and today we are proud to be able to offer
exclusive perks for Soliman Travel customers, such as flexible booking conditions,
extra baggage allowance, longer deposit times and reduced fares. We know our
travellers appreciate being treated individually, on a case-by-case basis – we always
see our customers as people, not just numbers on a screen.
Offering the best fares and customer service
We pride ourselves on our very competitive pricing scheme and have been
praised repeatedly for our high levels of customer service. We have longstanding
relationships with airlines and other industry partners, and we strive to use these in
order to offer the best possible value to our customers.
FACTS ABOUT
SOLIMAN TRAVEL
»Director: Maria Teresa Soliman
»Established in 1979
»Based in London, Bogotá and
Cairo
»Services: Independent tours
»No. of employees: 25 in the
UK
»Family-owned business with
loyal multinational staff and
client base
Soliman Travel
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
2| SOLIMAN TRAVEL
We are committed to not just
complying with but also exceeding
industry standards. We are ABTA and
ATOL-bonded, accredited by IATA and
have long-established ties to a number
of travel, tourism, diplomatic and
commercial organisations in both the
UK and other priority regions around
the world.
Recognition across the sector
Upon establishing Soliman Travel in
1979, we opened the doors to our
first office on Old Brompton Road in
southwest London. We received IATA,
ABTA and ATOL membership two
years later, and then moved to new
offices on Earl’s Court Road in 1990.
The next few years saw us gain
unparalleled recognition for our
excellence in terms of the tours we
curated and the service we provided.
We had the highest overall sales for
Air France in 1994, and came second
the following year. In 1996, we were
appointed as one of British Airways’
preferred partners and have received
similar status from Iberia, Avianca,
EgyptAir, Lufthansa and KLM.
This success created the foundation
for us to open three further offices
in the 2000s, including two on
Hammersmith Road in west London
and a third in Elephant and Castle.
Five years ago, we were awarded
EgyptAir’s Best Sales Agent – our
success has continued through to the
present day, and we now proudly
celebrate our 40th year in business
in2019.
Emerging problems in the
travel sector
The way in which the travel industry
has evolved in recent years means that
some of our providers and suppliers
have become our competitors, and
they have started offering clients
similar products at a price that we
just can’t match. Our overheads
keep rising, while our suppliers and
competitors keep cutting prices, and of
course, unfortunately, we sometimes
have to pass these increases on
toclients.
On occasion, customers call us to
ask why some of our prices are more
expensive than booking direct with
the airline – this shouldn’t be the case.
Recently, it has become relatively easy
for new agencies to develop a platform
to sell holidays without going through
the rigorous due process that older
providers had to undergo at the time
of establishment. In my opinion, this
creates some ethical questions on
business practice, and I believe that
the government could be doing more
tohelp.
The market is supposed to be fixed
at a set price to stop people from
undercutting one another; for
example, official regulations prevent
me from buying a ticket from an
airline for £500 and selling it for
£400. But more and more firms keep
appearing with sale points that are
significantly lower than we charge.
Previously, the rules stated that the
Soliman Travel tour bus
at the Pyramids of Giza,
Cairo
We always see
our customers
as people, not
just numbers
on a screen
3SOLIMAN TRAVEL |
BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE
minimum for which we could sell
a ticket was the price at which we
bought it – so how are some of our
competitors able to drop their prices
further?
It isn’t the major longstanding players
of the industry who are deploying
these tactics; it’s the brand-new,
mainly online, agencies who have
entered the market in the last two or
three years. I’ve heard some stories
from clients who have turned up at
airports, hire car collection points or
hotels only to find that the reservation
they have paid for does not exist.
We don’t want to eliminate
competition – on the contrary, a fair
and level playing field is healthy for the
market and incentivises all to improve.
However, this kind of malpractice
damages the credibility of the industry
as a whole, which is why I believe it
needs to be addressed as a matter
ofurgency.
Providing flexibility
We have always strived to offer our
clients as much flexibility as possible;
we work closely on solutions for
diplomats and corporates for credit,
booking and cancellation options.
However, the arrival of unfair and
unethical competition is making this
harder for us.
With the advent of what can initially
seem to be cheaper online players,
the industry is moving away from
a personalised service with greater
flexibility into the realm of more rigid,
lower-quality, mass-produced holiday
packages. This simply isn’t good for
anyone, least of all customers.
Forty years on
In celebration of our 40th anniversary
in November 2019, we’ve rebranded
the company, launched our new
website and loyalty scheme, invested in
our premises and developed services to
new destinations.
We have also undertaken
comprehensive staff training to ensure
they are best placed to service the
ever-changing needs of clients to the
best of their ability. Many members of
our team have been with us for over
20 years – we want them to continue
to love where they work and feel
as invested in the business as they
possibly can.
No matter what happens in the sector,
we will always offer customers the best
possible service and value for money
so that Soliman Travel is the go-to for
holidays across not just the Middle
East and Latin America, but also the
entireworld.
We will always
offer customers
the best possible
service and
value for money
so that Soliman
Travel is the go-
to for holidays
The Old Town of
Cartagena, Colombia,
one of our top
destinations

www.solimantravel.com

This article was sponsored by Soliman Travel. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Michael Gove.

Rt Hon Michael Gove's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Michael Gove

This year's Parliamentary Review comes at a momentous time for parliament, as we collectively determine the destiny of the United Kingdom. 

On October 31, the UK will leave the European Union. The successful implementation of this process is this government's number-one priority.

Three years after a historic referendum vote, we will deliver on the decisive mandate from the British people. Trust in our democracy depends on it. Until that final hour, we will work determinedly and diligently to negotiate a deal, one that abolishes the backstop and upholds the warm and close relationship we share with our friends, allies and neighbours in the EU. But in the event that the EU refuses to meet us at the table, we must be prepared to leave without a deal.

As the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, it is my job to lead on this government's approach, should that scenario happen. Preparing for Brexit is my department's driving mission. But while I am leading this turbocharged effort, the whole of government is committed to this endeavour.

Ministers across Whitehall are working together to ensure that every possibility is considered, every plan is scrutinised and every provision is made. A daily drumbeat of meetings means that we are holding departments accountable, so that preparations are completed on time.

The chancellor has confirmed that all necessary funding will be made available. And we have mobilised thecivil service, assigning 15,000 of our most talented civil servants to manage our exit from the EU.

We will make sure that on November 1, there is as little disruption to national life as possible. Our trade relationships will continue to thrive, thanks to agreements with countries around the world worth £70 billion. Our country will remain secure, thanks to nearly 1,000 new officers posted at our borders. And the 3.2 million EU nationals now living and working among us can remain confident, with absolute certainty, of their right to remain in the UK.

Above all, our goal is to be transparent. Soon, we will launch a public information campaign so that citizens, communities and businesses are ready and reassured about what will happen in the event of “no deal”.

In my first few weeks in this role, I have travelled to ports and tarmacs, borders and bridges, all across the UK –from the seaside of Dover to the rolling green hills of County Armagh. I have heard from business owners and border officials, farmers and hauliers. They are ready to put an end to uncertainty. And they are ready to embrace the opportunities ahead.

Our departure from the EU will be a once in a lifetime chance to chart a new course for the United Kingdom. Preparing for that new course will be a herculean effort. But this country has made astounding efforts before. We can do it again.
Rt Hon Michael Gove
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster