- ‘ Cases of rape rise to 84% in Nigeria’
- Dana air crash update: 23 aircrash victims’ families yet to receive compensation
- Mimiko inaugurates new Mother & Child hospital today
- N4.56b pension scam: Female accused hospitalised,trial stalled
- Construction workers hail FG’s decision on Lagos-Ibadan expressway
- Senate adjourns plenary for 1 week, dissolves to Appropriation committee.
- Blackout looms as Egbin power plant breaks down
- FMBN, NEXIM, BOA, IB lose N47bn in 6 months - CBN
- FirstBank wins Nigerian Bank of the Year award
- PDP tackles ACN over Tukur’s comments
- Electricity workers threaten strike over Wamakko
- ‘NDIC prosecuted 55 directors, staff of micro finance banks in 2011’
- Judgment in Oni’s appeal stalled, re-fixed for Jan 8
- Slain banker: Deceased had only 3 wounds -Accused’s father
- Appointments: S/West not marginalised —FCC
Understanding hajj and umrah business
CAN hajj and umrah be commercialised? These are religious rituals. In fact, hajj is one of the pillars of Islam. But the commercial aspect is where people or going concerns provide services like air transport, accommodation and other logistics to the pilgrims to facilitate the observance of this devotion. Such service providers are known as Hajj tour operators. This symbiosis between pilgrims to the house of Allah and hajj tour operators makes them share in the reward of undertaking this duty without diminishing what appertains to the other.
Hajj tour operators, therefore, should see themselves not as business adversaries, but as associates in service delivery to the guests of Allah, who assist each other in ways that will simplify this pillar of Islam to their clients. Hajj and umrah business are a unique enterprise which enriches practitioners in substance as well as in recompense. It behoves Hajj tour operators, then, to conduct their operations professionally so as to fortify their corporations, strengthen the industry, and gain reward from the Law-Giver.
The above realisation has skipped some Hajj tour operators in Nigeria. They view hajj and umrah business as business, period. Their turnover is what matters most. The pilgrim’s duty is to pay for the services they advertise, and theirs is to collect such payment and fulfil their part of the bargain in a way that will guarantee maximum profit at the expense of their clients. Such miscreant Hajjtour operators invent lies and outright falsehood against sister-companies, competitors in business parlance, in the industry, to woo a larger part of the market to themselves. They stop at nothing to soil the image of the “rivals” and even spy on their activities. Yes, competition, healthy competition, quickens business development; it enhances innovation, forces companies to be more efficient and brings about the provision of better services to clients at reasonable cost. Yes, Hajj tour operators should vie with one another in the provision of service to pilgrims, but that competition should be devoid of mudslinging, lies and manifest untruth.
The service delivery industry is a thankless profession we must not forget. Do not expect any expression of gratitude from the client, though many pilgrims do that. But bear it in mind that whatever you do, some pilgrims will find faults in the operation, and that is not bad. That should be viewed as feedback from the customer; note it and see how best to avoid repeating it in subsequent operations. At times, your pilgrims will utter uncomplimentary remarks against another Hajj tour operators that they patronised in the past. Fear Allah and avoid speaking ill of your brethren in their absence. Just listen and resist giving any opinion that is likely to injure a fellow Hajj tour operators. We are all involved in this; the same pilgrims will say similar or worse things against you to another operator. Let us all accept and appreciate the fact that the Nigerian pilgrim who desires to use the services of Hajj tour operators has myriad options at his disposal. He has more than 150 companies to choose from. Do not distress yourself; do not speak ill of your brethren in the industry, when a pilgrim you served this year fails to return to you during next year’s operation. Just do your best, and give the highest standard of service. Allow the pilgrim to sample and experience what your colleagues offer. He will come back to you, surely!
Hajj operation has a lot of complications, many of which the pilgrim may not know but only the hajj Tour Operator can discern. You will spare yourself unnecessary bashing from negative publicity of your pilgrimage if you let them know your limitations in hajj operations from the outset. Let them know that you don’t issue Hajj visas; the Saudi Embassy does. You cannot determine or hasten the time for release of passports from the embassy. Passports can even be misplaced and may not be seen in good time for the owner to travel on their scheduled date. Anomalies in visa on pilgrims’ passports, disappearance of passports after submission for visa at the embassy, and, in some cases, discovery of such passports without visas printed on them are not what make a bad travel agent. This can happen to anybody regardless of their experience; you cannot do anything to avert this. We in the business know this to be everyday occurrence. Often times, you can submit 200 passports for visa; by the time you collect them, 10 of the passports may belong to another company and yours could be elsewhere. This does not mean all of you are not good companies or have done a bad job in handling pilgrims’ travelling documents. The confusion was created during collation and collection of passports at the embassy. In such cases, the Hajj tour operator will act, like a professional, if a novice pilgrim comes complaining about poor services of a company based on his bad experience on the issue of visa, missing passport or appearance of passport in another office other than the one he has made payment for package to. You should fear Allah and explain the situation to the uninitiated.
Experience is priceless. The Qur’an teaches us, if we do not know, to ask those who know, the experts, in everything we want to do (Al Ambiyaa 21:7). Hajj tour operators will serve pilgrims better by working and assisting each other in operational matters. Ask if you don’t know. Do not copy blindly.
I have seen plagiarised information from my company’s brochure on more than one agency’s brochure for instance), or be part of a Hajj tour operators’s contingent as pilgrim-imbed to see how to conduct Hajj operation. So, today, he is a pilgrim, and tomorrow, a new entrant into the Hajj tour operation business. Welcome to the league! But you will not learn much by surreptitious design.
Being part of the contingent, you are like any other pilgrim. You are taken from one place to another, checking in and out of hotels and boarding buses from point A to B. You’ve not seen the bigger picture of planning and the effort that produced the flawless operation that you witnessed. Some of us will not travel to Saudi Arabia to make contact with partner-service providers and plan ahead for coming pilgrimage. They contend themselves with waiting for the release of brochure by serious companies, plagiarise it word for word – the design, package price with slight variation, and even copy the terms and condition of service verbatim! This business is not done this way. How can you blindly adopt someone else’s condition while you are aware that what you offer is inferior to the standard of service offered by the company? If you do not know how to paste, do not copy!
Why can’t people use their brain and their own initiative? What do you do if your entire hajj brochure is plagiarised by another tour operator? Nothing. Just praise Allah for granting you the intellectual property that could be purloined by the lazy. Afterall you will get the reward for setting the standard and leading the way in the business.
The glorious Qur’an praises those who give out of what Allah has provided for them (Al Baqarah 2:3). The experienced Hajj TourOoperators are duty bound, therefore, to share their knowledge to those of their colleagues in the business that are less endowed with operational expertise in the hajj and umrah business. The goal of every stakeholder in hajj is to make the observance of one of the pillars of Islam easy for the Guests of Allah, the pilgrims.Share