#399: Dubai Golf Shares * Viya* - A Lifestyle Platform Driving Loyalty for Golf, Dining & Entertainment

Today we meet the CEO of an iconic brand here in the UAE.

Dubai Golf was established in 1988 and manages some of the best-loved golf clubs in the whole region, Emirates Golf ClubJumeirah Golf Estates and Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club. The company is incredibly proud of its internationally acclaimed championship courses, and has also successfully evolved its hospitality and entertainment business, with both casual and fine dining restaurants of offer, as well as beautiful swimming, fitness and tennis facilities.

Leading the development of the whole group is the CEO Chris May, who joins today to share how the business really values and nurtures loyalty its members, having created a lifestyle app called Viya that allows both members and non-members alike to book rounds of golf, dining or other facilities and earn rewards.

Listen to enjoy our conversation with Chris May all about Dubai Golf and Viya Rewards.

Show Notes:

1) Dubai Golf

2) Emirates Golf Club

3) Jumeirah Golf Estates

4) Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club

5) Viya Rewards

6) Chris May

Audio Transcript

Paula: Welcome to Let’s Talk Loyalty, an industry podcast for loyalty marketing professionals. I’m your host, Paula Thomas, and if you work in loyalty marketing, join me every week to learn the latest ideas from loyalty specialists around the world.

Hello and welcome to today’s episode of Let’s Talk Loyalty. Today I’m really excited to meet the CEO of an iconic brand here in the UAE. Dubai Golf was established and manages some of the best love golf clubs in the whole region. They have internationally acclaimed championship courses, and it’s also a real hospitality and entertainment business with both casual and fine dining restaurants and things like swimming, fitness and tennis facilities.

The person leading the development of the whole group is the CEO Chris May. And he is joining me today in this studio to share how the business really values and nurtures loyalty with its members. What I love is he also explains this really clever idea to develop and launch a lifestyle app. Which allows both the members and the non-members to book rounds of golf and lots of other facilities with the business and earn rewards.

I really hope you enjoy my first conversation with Chris May, all about Dubai Golf and Viya Rewards.

So Chris, I actually feel very thrilled that it’s such an iconic brand and that you’ve agreed to join us in studio today. So, and I think it’s your first podcast, I think you said as well. 

Chris: First podcast with filming as well. 

Paula: So extra pressure today for you and me both. Not to worry. As you know, we always start our show, Chris, talking about our favorite loyalty programs. Because what I always feel as loyalty professionals, and I know that’s a bit different in your case, but it’s really important to understand what do you value and appreciate in terms of loyalty programs? What would, should we be aspiring to? 

Chris: My favorite loyalty program is a Dubai based one which is Skywards. I’ve been in Dubai for 24 years. We actually used to report into His Highness Sheik Ahmed bin Saeed of Emirates Airline. So I always feel a great deal of loyalty towards Emirates as a brand, but I genuinely feel that the Skywards loyalty program is one that has definitely influenced my decision making on staying loyal to Emirates when I could have gone to perhaps cheaper alternatives or other brands. 

And you know, every flight I’ve taken since I’ve been in Dubai has been with Emirates. And definitely the Skywards program has been a very important part of that. And you know, I’ve seen Skywards grow from very small brand in the early 2000s up to being, you know, probably the, you know, one of the biggest sky loyalty brands on the, in the world, and certainly amongst airlines. 

So it’s been very powerful to, you know, I think a loyalty program is all about you know, adding value to the customer and enhancing your business with them, and therefore your loyalty to it. And I remain loyal to Skyway to this day. 

Paula: Well done. You. It’s also my favorite actually was recently at a conference and they asked me, they said, how many loyalty programs do you have on your phone? And because I work in loyalty, they’re expecting me to say like 25 or 30. I said, I have about three. And they were actually shocked. 

And I said, I actually, what I think what this means is I’m extremely loyal, but only to a few brands that really make a difference. So I think you’re absolutely right. I think from a brand perspective, the fact that you’re changing your behavior and making booking decisions about something super expensive, like who you’re gonna fly with means. Absolutely Skyward is doing an amazing job. So we’ve had them on the podcast twice so we’ll wait and see how all that goes. 

Chris: They’ve certainly done a great job for Dubai. 

Paula: They certainly have. Absolutely 30 million members, so well done Skywards. So listen, let’s get into the Dubai Golf then. So Chris, you are doing an extraordinary job, and again, here in the region and in this country, we’re super familiar with what you do. But given that we have a global audience, tell us about Dubai Golf as a business. 

Chris: Well first of all, it’s not just me. We’ve got a great team. 

Paula: Of course. 

Chris: So Dubai Golf has been in existence for just over 20 years. We operate three of the golf courses in Dubai and three in Abu Dhabi.

So, the first one in the region, the first grass golf course was Emirates Golf Club. Which opened 35 years ago this year. And that was closely followed by Emory, sorry, Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club, which was opened five years later. So now, 30 years old this year. So it’s been a big year of celebrations for us this year.

And then in 2018 we took over Jumeirah Golf Estates which is another 36 hall venue. Emirates Golf Club has two golf courses also. And then, the latter part of last year, we took over three golf courses in Abu Dhabi. So Yas Links, Yas Acres and Sadia Beach Golf Club which are all fantastic facilities.

And adding to our portfolio in January 2021, we opened the first Topgolf in the region. Emirates Golf Club. So that’s been a great success. And really helped what we do, and we operate 21 restaurants in our golf clubs. The golf clubs are almost like mini hotels compared to some of the golf clubs you might be familiar with around the world.

So, it’s a great fun industry to be in. We work with a great team of people and it’s been really exciting to see how much the company has grown over the last 20 years in tandem with what Dubai has done. 

Paula: Of course. Absolutely. Well, certainly one of my favorite restaurants in Dubai is Carine, which is certainly in one of your golf clubs.

And one word you used there interested me as well, Chris, you said a grass golf club. And that would be taken for granted, I guess in any other country. Certainly where I’m from in Ireland. I think you are from the UK. But given where we live, it must be a mammoth undertaking just to actually maintain a grass golf club in the Middle East region.

Chris: I think when you look back to when Emirates Golf Club was originally built in 87, I wasn’t here then as well. But it really was quite an achievement to build a golf course in the middle of the desert. It’s now surrounded by the city. But there were pre-existed sand golf courses in the region of course with oil greens, which I think there’s probably just one or two left now of those. But the first grass golf was golf course was a big thing. 

And then subsequent to the first course than many subsequently have developed organically the growth has been very consistent and there’s now a lot of real estate developments with golf courses involved with them. Which is a little bit more sustainable  in you know for a golf course, which is pretty expensive to operate.

But it’s now a big industry and brings a lot of tourists to the region. We host some big tournaments in the region, which are shown all the way around the world. And usually the best players in the world come and play in Dubai and love visiting the city and enjoying everything that it has to offer.

Paula: Absolutely. And I know Topgolf is also a very unique proposition as well. Now, I’m not a golfer at all, Chris, you’ll have to forgive me, but several people I know are totally addicted to Topgolf. So tell us a bit about that product cause it’s quite different. 

Chris: I mean, Topgolf is for, is for you. 

Paula: Oh really?

Chris:  It’s the non-golfers. 

Paula: That’s what they’ll say. 

Chris: 80% of the people that play Topgolf are not golfers. So that’s one of the reasons why it’s so successful here. The brand has started in the UK. And we actually looked at the brand probably 10 years ago and decided not to go ahead at that point because it wasn’t quite what it is today. 

But it really has, it was bought by an American fund who changed it into an amazing entertainment experience. It happens to be around golf. But you do not need to be a golfer to play, and most people are not. So it’s a place to go and have great fun.  It’s an eating, an entertainment experience that you just happen to be holding a golf club. 

But the venue we built in Dubai in 2021, it’s one of the biggest venues globally. It’s got 102 bays. And you hit golf balls out at targets, but there’s our team in Topgolf are amazing. They ensure you have a great time.

There’s great food and beverage in the venue.  The music’s high energy. And it’s really, everyone going to Topgolf’s having fun. And we celebrated over a million guests in inside two years. It’s certainly a very busy venue. I was there last night, we had a three hour wait list at five 30 in the evening, so it’s busy every single day of the year.

Paula: Oh my goodness. Well, congratulations. A huge success story. Another huge success story.

Chris: Yeah. We’re lucky. 

Paula: So when I think about golf, I suppose the one thing I really think about is membership. So we are obviously here to talk about loyalty. And I think golf clubs have really been built on this, that you have to be a member. And I suppose historically, it could have been a very expensive thing to do. 

So as golf gets more competitive, how have you been thinking about membership over the 24 years, I think you said you’re involved  with Dubai Golf. So tell me how you think about the membership side of the business.

Chris: Membership for us is all about loyalty and rewarding our members who support us. Many of them, right from the very beginning of the operation starting. So many of them have been members for 30 years, 25 years, 20, 30 years. Along with you know, we’ve got a couple of our colleagues that have been members of the team for that period. But we, it’s our clubs are we, you know, they’re very established clubs.

They’re the sort of places to be, the facilities, the services that you get are fantastic, but they are nothing without our members. And keeping our members loyal to our clubs it’s so important. Because if we lose a member, it costs us a lot more to get another member.

So we are much better off providing excellent services to our members, and that’s really where our Viya app came from. Enhancing the levels of service. To enhance the levels of loyalty. To make it easier to use the club, the experience of interacting with the booking process. And also rewarding loyalty with a rewards program through the app. 

So membership is at the cornerstone of our business. It’s really important if we get a good membership renewal, which we generally always do. Because we do, you know, go above and beyond to look after our members and ensure that  you know, they have a great experience at the club and we want them to remain loyal for many, many years to come. So it’s critical to our business. It really is. And without our members, it would be very tough to be successful. 

Paula: Of course. Absolutely. Well, I think what you’ve explained very clearly is, of course, it is a business model, but every time I’ve spoken to you, Chris, you’ve really had that real mindset of integrity and taking care of the members, whatever is required, you know, so whether it is we need to have night golf.

I remember you told me as well, for example. Topgolf you’ve just talked about gives us the indoor option, the entertainment, all of the other aspects. So literally that focus on delighting your customers, I think we see as the cornerstone of loyalty. 

But it isn’t always enough. So obviously you realized there was a need for some technology and to build the whole proposition a couple of years ago. So where did the thinking come from in terms of what you needed?

Chris: We started off in a very small way. We had an app which was really just focused around booking three times. And that was only available to our members. We had 3000 users. It was called Golf Central. 

But we have a large customer base. We have a large member base. We have now grown to six different clubs rather than just the two at the time. Yes. And we wanted to enhance the process and really give back to our members to reward their loyalty. So we moved from Gulf Central to Viya and as we opened up Jumeirah Golf Estates.

And the Viya app really,  was really widened in terms of its scope from just golf bookings to include dining, to include experiences, to include spas, to include hotels.  And more recently, we’ve added retail, we’ve added golf lessons. We’ve added, we’re just about to add paddle tennis to the app as well, and it really does reward spend.

So, it’s now become something much bigger than just an app for our members. Because it’s now been embraced by a much wider cross section of the people we’ve now got over much wider cross section of the population. We now got over a hundred thousand users. Now we’ve expanded into Abu Dhabi.

It grew from 30,000 in Dubai to 75,000 Abu Dhabi, and now over 120,000 users in 2023. So it’s grown from 3000 in 2019 to now 120,000 users and the biggest element of spend is on dining. Dining is big in Dubai. 

Paula: Honestly. It’s a problem. It’s a high quality problem.

Chris: And, you know, we get huge amount of spend for dining in Carine, your favorite restaurant at Emirates Golf Club, in Topgolf and all of our restaurants. Golf is also very big and rowing significantly. It’s helped us really grow our business in Abu Dhabi from nothing to a significant share of the market. 

And more importantly, one of the reasons that people are using it and it’s growing so quickly is that you’re getting rewards for that loyalty as well. So you get reward spend, back you can redeem on your spend.

And, really that’s been critical in its growth. So we’re now looking at partners outside of Dubai Golf as well, to be part of the program. And we’ve enhanced the program over the last year to include Viya Access, so members have Viya Access to some of the hotels, the hotel gyms, beaches, etc. And some of our gyms as well. So that’s also just provided another element to it as well. 

So it’s constantly evolving. And because we developed the app in house, you are much more in control of which direction you want it to go, and trends change. Things develop, things move. And so it’s very important to develop and change with the times.

And you know, so this year we’ll be adding paddle to that paddle is an extremely popular activity in this country and globally. And you know, we’ll be able to enhance the experience and reward those loyal customers of ours with added benefits in terms of reward whenever they spend or on booking paddle tennis courts or using the food and beverage afterwards.

So it really is as something that is we feel we get great feedback from not only our members, which we now have 9,000 members across Dubai and Abu Dhabi, but it’s being embraced by tourists that are coming to stay in the region who see the app and see the benefit of using it. 

And, you know, and also stay loyal to our company and our facilities, products, and services. So it benefits both ways.

Paula: There’s so much I wanna ask you about that journey, Chris. Because you know, as loyalty professionals, we often think that we need to go and find maybe some external consultants for the expertise in terms of things like the reward rate, for example. So that’s something I’d love to get your thinking on. That’s one piece. 

The other piece is the decision to build it internally. I can tell you’re very proud of that, and you’re very lucky to have that development capability in-house. Mostly, when people ask me what they should do in terms of their technology, I’m like, leave it to the experts. Like, go and buy a platform, but you’ve managed to prove me wrong and build it yourselves and have exactly what you want. 

So tell us about the technology journey and then I wanna hear about the business case as well. 

Chris: I think, look, if you go back a little bit in time, in how Dubai’s developed. There have been some great apps and reward programs that have existed in Dubai. And, we felt that in our business, and I know we are not alone, that  you were almost beholden to the app or, and you didn’t have control of your business so by having our own loyalty app that gives rewards. 

We felt we were much more in control of our business, and we knew we were on a growth trajectory. With the products and services that we have, we already talked about Topgolf. We’d added additional golf clubs. There will be more growth in the future. So having control of that, in terms of us being able to determine what we want to promote and us and the business benefiting 100% is key for our growth.  And it’s proven really to be the right thing to do for us. It’s taken a little bit more time.

Paula: I’m sure. 

Chris: So I think your argument and your advice is probably well placed in, you know, taking an existing app and white labeling, whatever you would want to do. But in our case, our business is maybe a little bit different. The golf business is slightly different from many others. And in many ways we are fortunate because the golf industry globally is quite fragmented.

Paula: Is it? 

Chris: So unlike the hotel industry where you would have 10 major hotel chain globally, in golf true is the biggest management company in the world. And it manages 600 plus golf courses. There are 30,000 in the world, so actually there is, there aren’t really many big players in the golf industry. 

So the availability of tech in the industry is also a little more fragmented than many. So that in some ways has been an advantage to us. Because in golf you are not the competition level perhaps for tech is not quite as high as it may be in certain other industries like the airline industry. That would be difficult to try and replicate Skyward. 

Paula: I was gonna say, if you were in Skywards and you were trying to say, we’re gonna build our own, it might be tough. 

Chris:  So I think for us it was the right decision.  And we wouldn’t do it. We wouldn’t have done it any different had we gone back.  And you know, it’s been highly beneficial for our business to have the control of the app. 

And you know, from a financial perspective, you’re not sharing revenues with a third party. Which yes, it costs a little bit more. It takes a little bit longer. But we’re here for the long run.  And the growth is gonna be something that is gonna continue. So having that platform will enable us you know, bring us big advantages, not only now, but also in the future. 

Paula: Absolutely. And you know, I’m sure you can comment on this piece. But I’m pretty sure if I was sitting in your shoes, I’d be thinking, oh, maybe I’m in the technology business now. Maybe there’s an opportunity worldwide with this fragmented industry. 

So I think you’ve done something very brave and very exciting, so I’ll be super keen to see where it goes. But definitely, I feel like industries like yours, as you’ve said, may have been neglected just because there wasn’t sufficient demand for that level of expertise. 

Like my father plays golf, but for sure he wouldn’t be downloading any apps. To play and make the bookings. You know, it’s a traditional phone call. But I do think there’s a need for this kind of technology and anything that makes our lives super easy and convenient. 

And also the generosity piece. I think is also what you seem to have nailed really well. So what I saw is, for every dirham, there’s, there’s one dirham back, is that the reward rate? 

Chris: Every 10 dirham spend is a dirham back. 

Paula: It’s a dirham back. So it’s a 10% reward rate. 

Chris: So it’s 10% reward, which is high. But again, we can afford to do that. Because it’ we’re not sharing any of that revenue with third parties. So it’s encouraging spend back into our own operations. And so it’s something that we can do. And obviously, that means, you know, it’s very powerful to grow the user base as well. And you know, maybe that will change in time.

I mean, we talked about the Skywards program earlier. And certainly I remember that the Skywards Rewards program was very different. When it started then, perhaps it is now. But still it generates loyalty for sure so you can change in time, but certainly that was something we felt that was quite a strong message from the outset.

To give effectively a 10% redemption,  and rewards on, on spend. And that’s something that, in terms of the feedback we get from our users is something that they value very highly. And the fact that, you know, if you went to Carine and had dinner, you could go tomorrow to Topgolf or Jones The Grocer and redeem rewards from your spend last night. So it’s very, very easy to use. 

And, going back to your point on tech in golf, I think also being in this region,  I think we’re very fortunate that the general population is very sort of tech.

Paula: Savvy. 

Chris: Sort of savvy. And, I think, you know, people are really happy to use tech as long as it’s easy to use. And there’s a benefit. 

Paula: There’s something in it for me.

Chris: And Viya does tick both of those boxes.  And, it’s certainly you know, very popular with our members and the local population in Dubai. 

It’s even surprised me how many overseas guests have used it and found it. And we haven’t really promoted it to the overseas market, but a lot of our overseas guests that come and play our courses, especially in the winter months when we have amazing weather here. Really use it cause they see significant benefit from the spend that they make.

Paula: So, incredible. I was also surprised when you said that tourists are downloading it. Because to me it’s, again, back to the point, I don’t have a lot of loyalty programs on my phone because I couldn’t be bothered downloading it unless I know what’s in it. And I like the fact that you’ve launched with a very generous reward rate, as you said, of course over time you can adjust that.

You might say golf bookings get 10%. Dining might get 5%. Who might know? But I do think that’s something where you automatically build in the advocacy cause people say, actually I’m getting rewarded. Like they feel that peace. Like we would talk about, you know, as industry professionals about the importance particularly of the first redemption.

Because once you get somebody who’s redeemed, then you’ve got their trust. And once they’ve got that trust, then they do tell their friends and family. So it sounds like you intuitively understood that from the beginning, built in that generosity and now people are just telling each other. 

Chris: I mean, we did a lot of homework before we and a lot of development and looked at, you know, some of the best in class out there. So, you know, that was all part of the growth and development stage. 

And we feel yes, we have made, made errors and, but we, but in general, the key pillars of the app have remained pretty much consistent. And the look and feel has changed. And obviously, that’s something that’s important as well.

And that will probably continue to change and develop a little bit. But it’s really pleasing to see the level of growth, the revenue generation. The amount of usage, the amount of golf bookings. The amount of dining bookings. The amount of revenue coming in and the growth, you know, the growth year on year is significant.

21 to 22 in terms of revenue is a 60% growth. So the, you know that’s significant. 

Paula: That’s phenomenal. 

Chris: So perhaps coming a little bit out of COVID in 20 one’s, 22 comparisons. So it might not be a truly fair comparison, but still, it’s a very you know, Dubai was quite open in 21 as well as 22, so. 

Paula: Oh, we were so lucky. Absolutely. 

Chris: We were very lucky. So but it’s significant growth and something that I think we continue to see for some time. 

Paula: For sure. Just tell me about the rewards piece then, Chris. It’s all internal, essentially. So you earn the currency by buying the services and you redeem for other Dubai golf services?

Chris: Any services within the company. So we, whether it’s in Abu Dhabi, whether it’s in Dubai, it’s very simple to use at point of sale. It’s super easy so any of our restaurants, any of the golf courses, pro shops, Topgolf. Whatever it may be, you can redeem. And even in some of our hotels as well. It’s not just buy golf properties. 

Paula: Sure, sure. Tell me final question about the app then. The name of obviously Dubai golf was no longer factually correct. Of course. As you’re taking on and you’re growing outside of this Emirate, but also to give a different name to the app itself.

Was that a difficult decision because, you know, you then have to create awareness of what is Viya, you know, it’s a new brand. And I always say building brands is quite expensive. So that was obviously a big decision in its own right. So.

Chris: No, look, that’s a really good question. And you’re very right. Creating a new brand for nothing is not easy.  When you have an existing app, interestingly, it was quite a straightforward process for us.  And it was, it was a decision that we had to make because the previous name was Golf Central, so it was just about golf.

So we were growing into experiences. We were going into dining. We were going into hotels. We were going into beach passes, gym passes. So it had to be something that was a more generic, wider name, and Viya is kind of a link between everything. So Viya was a generic name that actually kind of provided a bridge between everything.

That was the, that’s, that was the concept.  The logos changed slightly, but only tweaked it a little bit since we launched it.  And we found, apart from a few people that can’t say Viya and say Viya or Viya, but we don’t, we don’t mind about that. 

Paula: I did check.

Chris: But well done. 

Paula: Yes, just in case.

Chris: But we find it’s something that people recognize with our brand  which is also is important. Because that trust that, that our brand Dubai Golf, Emirate’s Golf Club, Jumeirah Golf Estate Dubai Creek.

Paula: There’s a lot of has.

Chris: Has is significant. So if, you know, it’s something linked to those operations then that, you know, they have that credibility.  But the name change was something that we really had to do. And actually with I would say it wasn’t that long before people embraced that change. Certainly, when we made the change, we had a relatively low user base from really primarily our own members. 

So it was a communications them, which was very easy to do with push notifications and I think I may have written a letter as well or Viya email, whatever.  But that was relatively easy to do. And, then it was the promotion of what is Viya.

And so you were effectively going out to very different business—lots of different businesses. And hitting, you know, from a marketing perspective really growing the business through lots of different channels. So it was the right time for us to do that. I perhaps wouldn’t recommend everyone follow that same route, but for us it was the right time to do it. And it, and it worked well.

And the change to Viya has been a really positive change for us because it’s enabled us to really grow the brand in a very organic way, but also Viya paddle, Viya dining, Viya golf.

Paula: Got it.

Chris: Viya retail.

Paula: So this brand extension?

Chris: It’s something that’s easy to apply to many, many different parts of the operation. So it’s been a good way to do it. And again, probably something that we wouldn’t change.

Paula: I’m sure. Yes. And you’ve reminded me of my days in British Airways. We used to call it the master brand. Because again, there was British Airways, Holidays. There was other British Airways products and services. But actually once you have that master brand, you can extend it into different things.  So I think Virgin is another great example in terms of what can you do. When you have a brand that people know and trust. 

So Viya, I think as a lifestyle brand. And actually when I think back to how you came to our attention in terms of loyalty, because again, we know the golf clubs. 

But I, as I said, I’m not a golfer and I didn’t know about the Viya app, but it was another you know, loyalty professional here in Dubai and he runs the Enoc loyalty program. And we asked him the same question we asked you at the start of the conversation. What is your favorite loyalty program? And he said Viya. 

Chris: Wow. 

Paula: So there you go, from somebody who’s running a huge program in a very competitive sector. And that’s when we were like, oh, we need to pay attention and see what’s going on with this.

So again, we have a global audience who are listening, so they’re certainly gonna be paying increasing attention to what Viya is doing. So very exciting times. 

Chris: Yeah. We’re very excited, and you know, we’ve got a very exciting growth trajectory over the next few years. So this part of the world, the city is doing very well. I think, you know, when you look at a global picture, Dubai’s done an amazing job.

Paula: Phenomenal.

Chris: Through post-COVID. And you know, so many people have moved to this part of the world. And, you know, the city’s growing. So if you have a successful business in the city and you have the opportunity to grow with that.

Paula: For sure.

Chris: Which is exciting for all of us here. And you know, certainly with in loyalty and the reward program we have we see it growing significantly over the coming years.

Paula: Absolutely. Well, I’ll tell you now. So you’ve been here a long time. I’ve been here twice actually, but my aunt and uncle came here in 1979. 

Chris: Wow. That’s impressive. 

Paula: So there you go. So I have a long love of this part of the world as well, but absolutely. And in fact, I’ll give my age away. I am the same age as the UAE. Which actually blows my mind. This country is 51 years old, nearly, sorry, just gone 52 and I’m 51 years old. So there you go.

It is incredible what has been built here, and I think all of us who live here really value and appreciate, again, whether it was through COVID or literally the opportunities that were given to build our businesses. So I think a lot of people don’t realize how special it is. So purely Dubai Golf does. You guys are doing amazing stuff. 

Chris: Thank you very much. It’s great to hear that feedback from you know, your guests that you had from Enoc.

Paula:  From Enoc. Absolutely. 

Chris: That’s wonderful. The team were very pleased with that because they work very hard to create what we’re doing. And it’s great to get great feedback from users. It’s great to see the growth trajectories and, you know, everyone in the team is really proud of seeing you know, the last month’s figures being higher than the previous month.

Paula: Hockey stick.

Chris: Which is, You know, so it’s been a few months in a row of consistent growth. So it’s been great to see, but that feedback means more to us than probably anything.

Paula: Fantastic. Fantastic. So you’ve alluded to some great plans, Chris. Is there anything you can share or give away? Might be commercially sensitive, so if not, please don’t worry, but, we’re always curious just to get a taste of what’s to come. 

Chris: I can certainly mention Topgolf is a brand that we’re gonna be taking expanding through the region. The next Topgolf will open in Abu Dhabi.  We’ll be operating that with a partner of ours in Abu Dhabi. It’ll probably open just before the end of 24.  So construction’s not started yet but it will be announced in the next couple of months.  

We’re also, although I can’t share the details with you, looking at some more social, economic and social entertainment concepts which seem to be very much on a growth trajectory. A lot of them come from London or perhaps US. Or Vegas. There’s a lot of these concepts and some of them proving incredibly successful.  The challenge for us is, it’s  being successful in London and perhaps in Vegas or New York or whatever. But will they be successful in Dubai as well? 

Paula: Of course, yes. 

Chris: And that’s always a risk with bringing something like a Topgolf here cause you’re never a hundred percent sure if it’s gonna work. But the track record of Topgolf was a pretty sure. That was gonna be okay.

So, we’re looking at other concepts along that way, along those lines of the next sort of Topgolf. And, I’m sure that we will be announcing something in the not too distant future which is really exciting. 

And , the further growth of Topgolf beyond Abu Dhabi is again, something that we’re really excited about. Bringing new people in the game and into the game and making golf fun. So that’s the main thing. But and aligned with all that growth is obviously the growth of the Viya app as well, so. 

Paula:  Absolutely. Absolutely.

Chris: It’s exciting times. 

Paula: Indeed. Well, listen, I hope you’ll keep us up to date. Because you know, as you grow and as we see your loyalty thinking coming through in such a special way for this unique community, it’s definitely something I’d love our listeners around the world to continue listening and learning from, if that’s okay?

Chris: Absolutely. No problem. I’d be delighted to share our successes.

Paula: Wonderful. Well listen, that’s all of my questions for today, Chris. Is there anything else you wanted to say before we wrap up?

Chris: No, I just really grateful for the opportunity. And if there’s anyone out there overseas that hasn’t experienced our wonderful city, please feel welcome to come here. It’s an amazing city with some wonderful experiences and while you’re here, you can use the Viya app. 

Paula: Amazing. Well said. Chris May, CEO of Dubai Golf. Thank you so much. 

Chris: Thank you very much for the opportunity.

Paula: This show is sponsored by The Wise Marketer, the world’s most popular source of loyalty marketing, news, insights, and research. The Wise Marketer also offers loyalty marketing training through its Loyalty Academy, which is already certified over 500 executives in 38 countries as certified loyalty marketing professionals.

For more information, check out thewisemarketer.com and loyaltyacademy.org.

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