Try Dubai: A new stopover experience, featuring Emirates

With nearly 4.5 million passengers transiting through Dubai International Airport every month, we created a concept that rethinks the Dubai stopover experience — allowing Emirates to act as an ambassador for the city by converting travellers’ transit time into unforgettable memories.


Emirates (Aviation)

Date completed

November 2018


Strategy & Visual Designer, TribalScale


The challenge

TribalScale Dubai enlisted our Toronto team to present our design capabilities to Emirates airline. Beyond showcasing our expertise, we introduced a design concept aimed at transforming Dubai’s transit passengers into repeat visitors, in line with their aim of 20 million visitors by 2020.


We kicked off the project with an in-depth analysis of Dubai’s tourism market — its current state at that time, the challenges it faces, and its future aspirations. Having lived in Dubai for 6 years, I was well aware of the strong bond between the Emirates and Dubai brands — something I leveraged profoundly in our research.

Tourism in Dubai — the status quo

Perfectly positioned as a hub between East and West, the UAE has served to connect destinations all over the world. Over 70 percent of the total passengers who passed through the UAE’s airports in 2017 were transit passengers. We also found that Dubai’s growth rate of visitors is moving towards its goal of welcoming 20 million visitors per year by 2020. What surprised us most, however, is the number of transit passengers that actually visit the city.


The city of Dubai is the perfect tourist destination with its breathtaking architectural attractions and unique shopping experiences. [Photo by David Rodrigo on Unsplash]

Nearly 4.5 million passengers transit through the Dubai International Airport every month, reaching over 50 million a year. Of these, an estimated 46 million do not visit the city.

The current Emirates stopover experience

The next phase of our research focused on analyzing the existing stopover experience that Emirates provides its customers. The goal was to find an opportunity of a notable connection to Dubai’s tourism aspirations — especially when Expo 2020 was around the corner.

On the existing Emirates website, customers are redirected to advanced search to make a booking and are then requested to call a sales agent to plan their trip. Booking through the advanced search has no mention of a Dubai Stopover. Instead, customers have to add the stopover to their itinerary manually.

Customers can choose to either plan the trip on their own or call Emirates to do it for them; however, there’s no easy way of doing it part of the digital experience.

A review on Trip Advisor highlights the negative experience a customer had when trying to book a Dubai stopover with Emirates.


The existing Emiratess website has no mention of a Dubai Stopover. Instead, customers have to add the stopover to their itinerary manually.


What we were curious about

The existing Emirates customer base represents a substantial addressable market. Those customers already enjoy a strong relationship with Emirates. If they have already crossed the distance to the region as a transit destination, why not use that relationship to encourage them to experience the city itself?

By elevating the stopover experience for Emirates customers, we would generate positive externalities for the Dubai tourism industry.


Exploring a new city, particularly under time pressure, can be daunting. Without familiarity, it’s hard to know what to do and how to plan logistics. But that’s what makes having a host so comforting. You can make the most of the experience just by allowing yourself to be guided by someone who knows the city.

As a global super-connector, Emirates has the power to transform transit time into unforgettable memories by creating a seamlessly connected stopover experience. From flight booking to curated city tours, visitors will never forget Emirates’ legendary hospitality.


The Dubai Stopover journey highlights the opportunities that Emirates can leverage to transform transit time into an actual visit of the city.

Creating desire to visit Dubai

The first touchpoint in the journey is to build awareness and spark curiosity in customers about the possibility of discovering Dubai.

By leveraging social media outreach, advertising and marketing on travel-related media, the user discovers and downloads the mobile app and launches an AR experience. The user then steps into an augmented architectural landmark, The Dubai Frame. The Frame transports the user into another world, giving them a teaser of Dubai’s landmarks, culture and scenery.

Giving users the power to picture themselves in Dubai, from wherever they are currently situated, builds excitement and leads users to discover further and explore the possibilities of a stopover adventure through the Emirates mobile app or website.


Dubai Frame is an iconic structure that ‘frames’ impressive views of Old and New Dubai, while serving as a metaphorical bridge connecting the emirate’s rich past with its magnificent present. [Photo by Markus Henze on Unsplash]


The Dubai Frame AR experience transports the user into another world, giving them a teaser of Dubai’s landmarks, culture and scenery.

Highlighting Try Dubai in the flight search widget

The stopover experience will also be promoted in the main carousel of the booking website to create awareness of the Dubai stopover. A separate tab on the same level of hierarchy as Flight Search and Booking Management will help generate awareness and ease findability for the stopover option.


Creating a seamless booking experience

After searching for a departure and arrival destination, the user is brought to the booking flow. Here the stopover package is surfaced to show what’s included. From our research, one of the reasons users avoid stopover options is due to complications of logistics planning.

Emirates can leverage this opportunity to position its service that takes the worry out of planning by including arrangements that will make the stopover experience more seamless and enjoyable for the transit visitor.

A further selection of activities is not highlighted on this booking level to ease the cognitive load. The user will continue to choose their departure and arrival flights that proceed to payment. After confirmation, the user can then browse, decide, and select from a variety of Dubai stopover adventures up till their arrival date.


Trip planning made easy

After confirmation of booking, the user can choose to browse and plan their stopover experience on the website or through the Try Dubai companion app.

In the home screen or Discover tab, recommendations and categorized adventures are displayed in the form of cards that highlight pricing, timing and a brief description of the experience. Selecting one of the experiences will bring the user to a details page where booking and favouriting options are displayed.


What’s next on my trip list?

As the trip date approaches, the user starts seeing suggested bookings and activities that are time-aware. They can see a chronological visual timeline of bookings that set expectations on activities when visiting Dubai.

Transportation (powered by Careem) and Marhaba lounge access are also integrated into the app for a complete end to end stopover experience.


Sharing the positive experience with others

Vistors become advocates for Emirates and Dubai after having a great time exploring the city. Looking back at photos from the stopover experience while on the plane, they start thinking about how much more they could do in Dubai if they went for a full visit during their next vacation. When they are back home, they tell their friends and family about their trip and encourage them to visit Dubai.


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