Omar is the founder of Maak & VEED and you could describe him as a marketer. But his work entails much more; what Gordon Ramsay does with food, Omar Kbiri does with content, new media, PR and communication. He helps brands, artists, museums and politicians communicate their message, from a storytelling perspective. Omar has already collaborated with the Rijksmuseum, Booking.com and artist Joost Klein, among others. At the same time, he also tries to tell the stories of groups that are harder to tell, and knows exactly how to reach the hearts and minds of the generation of the future: Gen-Z.
Younger generations are very much focused on making their dreams come true. They try to make a success of everything, but also want to make clear choices. What attracted you to youth culture to make it the focus of your work?
“Even though you wouldn’t say so, judged by my birth year, but I am 100% Gen-Z. I feel at home in that generation, I am inspired by them and I love being in their company. The generation that is at the controls now is outdated, obsolete, made for Windows 98. We are now solving the problems that were mainly caused in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. Generation Z has long since realised that, and they are a lot more realistic than the mindset of the status quo, and that is what I find very appealing.”
You have worked on a great number of wonderful projects. What are you most proud of so far, and what project has made the most impact on you, while you didn’t expect it?
“On a macro-society level, I am very proud of the broadcaster Omroep Zwart. For a large group of people – including myself – this was an impactful step forward, to create a place where stories that are not easy to tell can be told. I am proud of having been able to support talent such as Nathan Acid, Defano, Teske and Joost Klein in their careers, and I am also very proud of the work I did with a politician. The speech I co-authored was named on of the three best political speeches of the year by news program De Nieuws BV. I am also very proud of the SnapGuide we created with the Rijksmuseum, to get young visitors to consume art in a different way. Ultimately, writing stories is not that complicated, whether you are writing for a young or older generation – it is primarily about being able to listen carefully to your audience, to understand them and then make the connection.”
What do you think is an important key to success when it comes to keeping up with the endless developments and interests of future generations as a travel company?
“It is important that you are primarily in direct contact with your customers, and not through Google, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Tiktok. Social media is to a business what Tinder is to a relationship. Once you have “scored” a relationship on Tinder, and you have moved in together, you’re no longer going to communicate with each other via Tinder. I call that a personal opt-in into a relationship. If you have a consistently and constant relationship with your target audience, you will know where there is room to enrich that relationship. To be able to listen and anticipate properly, you have to get rid of the middle man.”
Which brand in the hospitality industry is doing this well and why, according to you?
“Airbnb is top of mind with travellers, and as a brand it has a strong commitment to its end users, by investing heavily in branding and fun services. Looking at the entertainment industry, and the house scene, I see artists who are working hard to attract fans and create direct relationships. For instance, one well-known rock band wanted to find out where their biggest fan base could be found and had a map drawn up based on data on illegal music downloads. With that data, they planned a tour to places where the band had never been before. A very good example closer to home is travel influencer Mohsin, of Moshin op Wereldreis - Niet Nadenken Gewoon Doen (Moshin’s travels around the world – Don’t think, just do). His travel agency and community #dontthinkjustdo brings together people who go on a journey of experience with Mohsin.”
Can you give a little teaser of your session and tell us how you want to bring Travel Congress participants along on your thought journey?
“I want to introduce the audience to the world of Gen-Z and what they see and experience, and explain how to better engage with them. I want to share more about the harsh realities this generation is faced with, such as climate change and their urge to see certain places before they will disappear forever. I also want to introduce new leadership. Whom are you going to give the keys to your organisation? What will you do when most of your database is getting too old to go on long holidays?”