Abidine laghfiri, CEO at PRIVATE DESERT TOURS tells us about camel trekking in the desert and Covid-19 status in Morocco.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Abidine laghfiri: We live a normal life. That means we don’t wear masks nor keep safety distance because I live in a small village near the Sahara Desert in Morocco.
There are no Covid cases in my village and this may sound like another world. The locals are still attending wedding parties but still, some cities in Morocco are restricted due to Covid-19.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded PRIVATE DESERT TOURS.
Abidine laghfiri: Nomad families founded PRIVATE DESERT TOURS. I have camel cars operating in the Sahara desert. When travellers visit, they ask my friends and me to take their pictures with our camels and in the end, they give us some money or tip.
This attention from travelers motivated us to make comfortable saddles so that they can enjoy their tours. They also taught us their language as they ride our camels and I began organizing desert trips with our camels, cooking and guiding them throughout the trips since I could be able to communicate with them.
The travelers began including my story in their blog and this helped us to receive more clients. However, I’m not conversant with the internet but am organizing their trips to Morocco from the airport to different parts of the country.
How does PRIVATE DESERT TOURS innovate?
Abidine laghfiri: Our clients value their holidays so we innovate by selling them memorable adventures in the desert, and we work hard to keep them happy during their visits.
We view our clients as our big family, unlike our competitors who work on quantity rather than quality. We are ready to share our culture and help them discover our world, the Sahara desert
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Abidine laghfiri: The pandemic severely affected the travel business. We live in very hard times since borders are closed and no travelers are visiting us.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources and what are the lessons learned?
Abidine laghfiri: Actually yes, I did my best to protect my team. We had some banks loans, camels to feed, and rent to pay in Marrakech. We are a small company that is almost 14 years old and we have officially worked for only 8 years
We learned that there is no guarantee in life and business. It’s like the poker game where the chance to win equals the chance to lose. As we accept wins we have to accept some losses too and start again.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Abidine laghfiri: Yes we have a strong relationship with our clients or our family. We didn’t accept any deposits from our clients because of the uncertainty caused by the pandemic.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Abidine laghfiri: We didn’t get anything from the government. Yet everything is getting worst every day.
It’s hard to build but it’s easy to destroy. We are going to live by hope and we are optimistic we will resume our business soon.
Your final thoughts?
Abidine laghfiri: We have to help each other for all of us to survive. Humanity has learned that from this pandemic.