FEEDBACK FROM OUR ESTEEMED HAJJ 2014 PILGRIIMS
IDRIS BABANGIDA SULAIMAN
I was with Comerel during Umrah and was impressed with the organisation, level of preparedness in, and help they provided for the trip. So when I decided to go for Hajj I thought their package will be more suited for my purpose. Comerel provides enough information for first timers for the Hajj. I was influenced by this and by the kind of assistance they provide to their pilgrims during the exercise.
The Induction was very informative especially the Health Talk by Dr Kana, and the lecture on Hajj rites by their Ameerul Hajj. Even though they said they will provide more information during the Hajj exercise, I feel that the course has already given all information that a first timer needs to know for the Hajj.
Let me also say that, bringing Dr Kana to speak to us on health issues shows commitment on our wellbeing, that Comerel cares about our welfare, and are keen to give us all we need to know on medical conditions while on the Holy Land. And with this Ebola problem, this lecture by Dr Kana gives me the confidence of knowing how to conduct myself during Hajj.
I enjoyed the power point presentation, as everything was there to see and connect with the words of the speaker. Listening to a speaker without the support of images and words will not make remember the presentation very well, but what we saw today, with the power point and the jokes that the speakers created, will make everything stick to your mind.
Why the Comerel?
Comerel deserves commendation. Like 13 years back, I travelled for Hajj on my own for five days... it was so terrible for me. I decided not to travel again but after a few years I saw Comerel advertising on TV and I decided to join. Actually, at first I was nervous and I was afraid i would experience the same thing as the last time I went on Hajj, but actually from the beginning, immediately we got to Madeenah I was so surprised. I was still praying and asking God not to let it be the same as the previous one. When we went to Makkah, I was so impressed with their warm reception, the hotel accommodation and the upgrade of the hotel accommodation. In fact, I was so impressed Minaa tents Immediately I saw the accommodation in Minaa I was so impressed; very neat and not too many in a room. Therefore, I was impressed because Minaa is the main aspect of Hajj not the hotel accommodation in Makkah or Madeenah.
Hotel rooming arrangement In Comerel, every pilgrim is a friend. Immediately you meet your room mates, you know this is a friend because Comerel makes us feel we are together, we are the same and we feel at home. You will feel as if you want to remain together and never part. Referrals I have referred many to use Comerel's services among who is my husband. I told him everything about Comerel, I decided to bring him for Umrah for him to know and feel it, and he is impressed. I also introduced many of my friends.
Oberoi Madina Hotel
Actually, Comerel is noted for using Madinah Hilton and initially we thought we would return to Madinah Hilton because I went for Umrah with Comerel earlier and we used Madinah Hilton. The GM informed us that we would not be accommodated at the Hilton again and that they have changed it to Oberoi Hotel. Deep inside me, I was thinking that we could not get a hotel better than Madinah Hilton. I did not know that Oberoi is even better than Hilton is with their accommodation and even their food and everything, perfect! I lack nothing here and I thank Comerel for giving us the chance to experience another hotel like Oberoi Hotel.
Ease of Logistics
From the beginning, they tell you hajj is not like Umrah and people say that is the difficult one but with Comerel Hajj is even easier than Umrah because you just feel at home and the state of mind, the environment and everything...spiritually you are very calm.
Advice to First timers
I have nothing to say to Comerel because I feel they are experts at what they do. My first time friends were nervous and did not know what to expect with Comerel. Actually, I have tagged myself as Comerel ambassador without the GM or anyone announcing my name. I am really impressed and happy and I know definitely my friends will come and thank me too.
Comerel's Future prospects
I wish and I pray and I know that Comerel will reach other states; not only Abuja. By God's grace, I know Comerel will be among the travel agencies in all states.
That was the best part of everything. We had a wide variety of Nigerian dishes in Madeenah. The only thing we lacked was burabisco and miyan kukah because I am a Kanuri woman. I think the GM will include it subsequently. Aside that, I think everything was perfect and everyone was happy.
Female Ad Hoc Staffers
If the company will add more women, I think it would be nice. We need more women to assist the company and I volunteer to be one of them. I am already an ambassador of the company without being recognised. Currently, only the MD's wife is performing the role of a female ad hoc staffer.
Performance rating: 95%
TOLANI ADETUNJI JUNAID
Dubai Transit (outbound)
So far so good. From my experience at the induction course, I think it is good. Then from Abuja to Dubai was also good except for the delay of the Emirates flight from Abuja, which was not the fault of Comerel. We landed in Dubai and everything went well. When we moved to the hotel, (I was part of the second group that spent a night in Dubai) I think it was a fantastic opportunity, the fact that we were able to rest. But then again, Comerel should try to perfect the Dubai arrangement in subsequent years if the pilgrims will have to stay in Dubai because the time we spent at the airport trying to check into the hotel get the (transit) visa and enter Dubai should not take as much time as it took. Although I also know that it is beyond Comerel's control but if it could be shortened, I think it will do well because we spent up to three, four hours at the airport. So far, I think it is a fantastic opportunity
Madinah Arrival/Meet and Greet
Arriving in Madeenah was smooth sailing. We did not spend a long time at the airport. As soon as we arrived, Comerel buses were waiting for us. While in the bus, we were given the card keys to our hotel rooms. The MD of Comerel received us as we arrived at the hotel; he was already at the lobby. He received us and we checked in immediately. The hotel was fantastic with a great view. We were just next to the Masjid. In fact, it was less than one minute's walk. The facilities at the hotel afforded us five-star treatment. I think it cannot be better than this
I think it was perfect. I was the last person to arrive my hotel room in Madeenah, I met three other men, and we were able to blend immediately. In fact I had met one of my roommates before at training and at the airport but I did not know were roommates. Initially when I was coming, I was not too comfortable with the idea of having roommates, but when I entered the room and saw the men and the room, which was large enough and had two separate conveniences, I just relaxed. We got a five-star treatment; you cannot doubt it.
For some of us who are first timers, what we always hear is that hajj is very difficult and inconvenient but for me the experience so far has been wonderful. I am quite sure it is also because of the service provider and by that, I mean Comerel. In terms of all the arrangements they have been able to put in place, I think it is going on very well.
From the daily bulletins, they tell us what to do and roommates share information. The briefings so far are OK.
That is another area that I wish to commend Comerel on. It was like I was at home in Nigeria. We had both local dishes and continental dishes served. We had amala, pounded yam, tuwo, egusi ...anything you can eat in Nigeria....
Value for money
I have no regrets about the huge sum I paid for this service. In addition, it is a service to Allah. The money does not bother me; Allah gives and takes. Before I saw Comerel, I saw cheaper options. I think your organisation is about the most expensive one in Nigeria today but if I want to do hajj again, again and again, I will still use Comerel.
75% as at Madeenah
AMINATU ABDULLAHI OYAGBOLA
I have been wanting to perform the hajj pilgrimage in line with my religion for many years and there were several challenges for me as a working woman. I cannot go to Saudi on my own and in any case, I didn't know all the steps. That was always a challenge every year. Beyond having the resources to buy a ticket, how would I get my visa? How would I organize and schedule my flights? The problems of booking accommodations in the right places at the right time that would be convenient...I just wanted that administrative headache taken away from me since I had the resources by the grace of God to pay for it.
I was very fortunate that my mother came across another friend who had experienced Comerel and was full of glowing commendations and recommendations about how professional they were and so on....
Initially I was a bit sceptical that it is a Nigerian organisation that is fully owned (by Nigerians) and I hoped it would be run in line with international standards. That was because I had already identified an international agency that i was going to use... but my mother said that this friend of hers had used them (Comerel) and had also used some international agencies in the past and she was able to compare the two and she said Comerel met all her expectations. Therefore, we decided that insha Allah it would be more convenient for us.
My mother and father live in Abuja so she was able to get the Comerel brochure and all the details for the trip and she shared that with me, gave me all the costs and everything. All I had to do was pay
Ease of procedure
The procedure to make payments and all of that was very straightforward. What I like about the Comerel service is the fact that they kept us updated. They kept sending SMS messages and even in my own case, email messages. I was corresponding by email from Lagos... I was able to keep in touch with the office. Therefore, the logistics arrangement was very, very good. Once my mother was able to make the payment on my behalf, the itinerary was sent and we had our receipt issued in line with international best practice. When you pay for your ticket, you get your printout; everything has been scheduled. The commitment they made in terms of hotel accommodation, feeding requirements and transportation were all fulfilled. Where there were any changes we were duly advised of the reasons why the changes were made. Therefore, alhamdulillah, I am satisfied.
Corporate Governance Standard
The corporate governance standard is what makes me as a Muslim in particular very happy. That we have an organisation that believes that their word should be their bond; that what they say, they should adhere to it. If anything changes, in line with good corporate governance and in line with ethics and ethical standards, then you should let the people whom you are serving know the reasons for the changes. That was exactly what they (Comerel) have done.
Initially, we were supposed to be in a particular hotel. Along the way, something occurred that did not make it possible and they explained. They made alternative arrangements and in fact, they upgraded the hotel facilities for us, which turned out to be even better than where we were originally supposed to be put up.
Ease of the rites
Comerel takes away all the burden and difficulty away from the pilgrim. It does not mean that the pilgrimage itself will not be hard because there certain aspects of it that are still going to require determination, resilience and definitely sacrifice. That is there and we will all do that, but you can sleep comfortably, eat comfortably and you can go from point A to point B reasonably comfortably. Then you can focus your mind, time and energy on performing the Hajj in line with the dictates of Allah.
Before, I used to tell myself that before I could embark on Hajj, I had to have six weeks free in the office, which is very difficult when you are a working professional. My annual leave is not more than 25 days. How was I to get six weeks? What about the other things I need to do within the course of a year? That was one of the reasons that I could not embark on the hajj before now.
However, when my mother mentioned this option of Comerel Travels it became clear to me that I could just dedicate two weeks and perform the Hajj and insha Allah that is what I have done.
For me as a first timer who really had very little information and very little idea about what it is actually about. You can read the entire books in the world but talking to somebody who has gone through the experience and that person sharing the experience with you is completely different from what you may read in a book. The induction course was extremely useful. What I liked in particular was that Comerel actually prepared a model of what the Ka’bah and the entire process looks like. They role modelled everything for us physically.
They took us through every single aspect and every single description of every single part; what you should say and do at every stage. Even as far as explaining at what point to drink the Zam Zam water and how to drink it...even the way we should prepare ourselves for ihraam. They had given us a beautiful booklet, which also summarises everything, every step of the way but in addition, they gave practical demonstration of what is expected, what you needed to do and the do and don'ts.
There are so many misconceptions about Hajj that people tell you about and sometimes they are wrong but they (Comerel) were able to tell us (the right things to do). What I also liked was that over and beyond the logistics and planning as well as the spiritual preparation, they were able to explain how to prepare physically for the journey...there was a preventive aspect that most travel agencies do not address in terms of preparing you in advance which was very useful.
Future prospects and advice
I think that there is a very bright future for this company; I think they have just started. I do not think enough people know about Comerel and the services they render. Therefore, I think one area in terms of feedback is that they need to invest a lot more in their communications, in their public relations and in how they market their services. Of course, one of the most powerful marketing tools is word of mouth, you know, the taste of the pudding is in the eating; so those of us pilgrims that have benefited from the Comerel service and experience can go and spread the word.
Performance rating: 80%
DALHATU SAKI MOMOH
I have been on hajj seven times before. This is the first time I would travel with an agency because I used to travel myself and make my own arrangements. Last year, I met some of my friends and saw the arrangement they made. I asked them whom they followed that made the arrangements so perfect and they said there is a company called Comerel and that I should try them. They said everything there is VIP. I said I am also doing VIP arrangements but they said this one is better than the one I am doing. I believed that if anyone is catering for a large group (crowd) he would not be able to satisfy all of them and this was why I always made my own arrangements previously.
Movement to Arafah and back to Minaa
It was so perfect. I just came out and boarded the bus to Arafah and the bus waited for us, took us to Muzdalifah, waited for us and took us back to Minaa. That was very unusual. Normally, when I wanted to go to Arafah, it would take about two hours before getting transport to Arafah. After we finish the exercise, I would spend about an hour or more before getting another bus to Muzdalifah because people would be scrambling for all available buses. This time, I was in the tent when I was told it was time to leave Arafah and I found our bus waiting. I enjoyed all the arrangements I cannot specifically say I enjoyed one service better than the other.
Airport Meet and Greet
The arrival at the airport was OK. Immediately we came out of the airport, we saw the buses waiting for us and they conveyed us to the hotel, which was perfect.
Movement to Makkah from Madeenah
The bus that conveyed us to Makkah was too slow. That was the only disadvantage I know of following the Comerel group. Since it is the government-approved speed limit, there is nothing one can do about it, but I remember that on my own arrangement (using a jeep) I would be in Makkah in four hours but this time it took almost 12 hours.
The hotel service and the feeding arrangement in Madeenah were excellent. There was a wide variety of dishes from which to choose. I search for African dishes anywhere I go in the world. Surprisingly, here, I did not have to search; they were already served.
The bus was very luxurious; it was 2014 or 2015 model. What I complained about was the speed, which was too slow for me. However if that is what the government regulations have designed for them, no problem. For me I felt the bus was moving at 60 kilometres per hour
Value for Money
What I paid is still in the neighbourhood of what I used to spend on my own arrangements. The price is not much; I think it is averagely OK.
They are friendly in nature and their service is good
Minaa was good. However, although I saw A Plus on my tag, the service I received was not A Plus; I would say A. Especially the food arrangement in Minaa...
Value for Money
I could concentrate more on the spiritual exertions because I did not have to look for any service, Comerel already took care of that. I got excellent service.
I have already convinced another friend to patronize Comerel. I will travel with his family and my family next year, insha Allah. I have experienced different services over the years; this the best service I have received so far.
Performance rating: 90%
NUHU DANBURAM ABUBAKAR
I have been with Comerel for a long time now, alhamdulillah. They have done well and year in year out, they have tried to improve. I think what helps them is that they try to take feedback from their passengers and use that feedback to improve on their services every year.
When Comerel started, they had two packages; the Special and VIP packages to cater for two categories of people. One who could not pay for the bigger package (the VIP) could pay for the smaller package (the Special). Over the years, they have tried to define their market and they need to focus on that market. i think that has helped them to become more focused by trying to remain in a niche of the market and improving that niche. It would have been difficult trying to fill several niches of the market; they would not have been where they are today.
Standard of Service
Each year, what they try to do is to improve the services of this category (i.e. the VIP). They use their feedbacks very well and it has helped them to improve. If you look at the market as a whole in Nigeria, you see that Comerel is in the top category because they have created a niche at the top. They have ensured that they keep to their name and this means ensuring that you do not lower your standards and improve every year.
When I subscribe to Comerel, I have no doubt that I will get the best of services. I know I will get value for my money. For a customer, what keeps you coming is the knowledge that the services are there. If not, take it that it would be the last patronage. Why Comerel has been able to retain the patronage of many of us for many years is because they render the services that will keep us.
For them (COMEREL) to include in the team an Ameer, it means they know the importance. Once you have people that come together there has to be a leader and that is quite important because of the knowledge the he will impart from time to time. In addition, there are other people assisting him in guiding people and in giving the required information about the whole process. Where people are having doubts, they clear those doubts and where they require information, they give the information.
Another improvement is the team doctor, which is very important. For any travel agency to be mindful of health and medical issues it is good.
In Madeenah, we were expecting to be taken to Madinah Hilton but were we lodged at the Oberoi. I understand that Oberoi is more expensive than Hilton is but we still prefer to stay in Hilton because to us, the services in Hilton are much better than the services we got in Oberoi. The only reservations I have are not in Madeenah. Like the one in Makkah, I think that they should make better arrangements for food like the one we had in Madeenah. They should also make better arrangements for food in Minaa and Arafah. Many of the people complained that the food was not enough. When we left Arafah, we expected some kind of food package for us to take to Muzdalifah but there were none.
The buses are good enough for the trip; very conducive and very good arrangement. They should keep it up. I think the buses are the top of the range that I could see.
I am very happy and delighted to see a Nigerian company competing with its international peers. For me the stickers that they put on the buses saying, 'Proudly Nigerian' gives me pride that this is a Nigerian company that is not ashamed to show to the other countries that yes, we can do it, and yes, this is a Nigerian company. They are advertising Nigeria and showing the world that Nigerians can be seen in that category. To me, if I have the opportunity I would give them an award for flying that sticker because they are flying Nigeria and showing the world that we are all proud to be Nigerians.
Housekeeping in Movenpick
The cleaning of the rooms in Movenpick is better than at Zam Zam Hotel. This is my first time at Zam Zam. I guess when you compare a five star hotel like Zam Zam to Movenpick, the difference is clear. My disappointment was that initially, I thought that I was paying for Movenpick but I ended up in Zam Zam rather than Movenpick. I do not know what informed that decision but the most important thing is that we have an acceptable hajj.
Performance rating: 70-90%
MAGAJI MAHMUD ALHAJI
I was passing by one year on the way to Jamaraat and I saw and liked Comerel's tent arrangements. Then a sister of mine came on Hajj with Comerel and when we met in Makkah, she told me how much she enjoyed the services.
They are very, very friendly. I did not encounter any difficulty in paying for the package.The biggest difference between Comerel and other agencies I have patronised is that we are together with the staff all the time. From the MD to the lower cadre, we did everything together. That encouraged me with Comerel. The MD showed that he is practising the Sunnah of the prophet of staying with his companions.
Reception at Madeenah
I was well received in Madeenah. Immediately we arrived, our buses were ready and we moved to the hotel. I enjoyed the local dishes in Madeenah. I especially liked the cow-leg soup.