The Dental Holiday story

 

Going from being a touring musician to setting up "the UK's most trusted Dental Clinic Abroad" hasn't been the easiest career change, but it's certainly been worthwhile...

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Daniel Shaw - Patient manager at Dental Holiday tells his story:

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"Since the year 2000 I'd been performing throughout Europe with my best friend James as a Celtic rock music act and needed a good website for our fans. I'd contacted various companies for a quotation, which unfortunately then ranged from ?500 to ?5000 - something that we certainly couldn't afford as struggling musicians. So in the end I bought some software for ?100 and I went about learning how to build a basic website."

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Shortly afterwards Daniel met with a upcoming cosmetic dentist from Slovakia, Dr. Marek, who had recently returned from a stint in London where he worked as a dentist.

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"Due to our shared love of great music, we quickly became great friends and he asked me to have a go at building a website for his dental new clinic in a spa town near Bratislava in Slovakia.

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And after doing some intensive research online, I realised that more and more people from the UK were?travelling?to central European countries like Hungary, the Czech Republic and Poland for cheaper dental treatment abroad. I imagined that they'd love to relax in the spa, feel comfortable in a "UK dental clinic abroad" and go home to tell everyone about their fantastic experience.

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And so the concept of "www.dentalholiday.co.uk" was formed. I built a website in English, completely focused on dental patients from the UK. We decided to build a UK accredited dental clinic, fully English-speaking, and run by UK staff living in Slovakia like myself. (I'm originally from North Yorkshire).

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Our friend Philip from Manchester (who now lives in Bratislava) would pick up all our patients from Bratislava airport, easily accessible from 14 UK towns with cheap flights though ryanair.com, and we would also arrange accommodation for all our visitors.

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Prices would be fair, dental procedures would be explained in an easy to understand manner, and patients would review their dental treatment abroad after treatment by letter or video. I'd answer all emails personally and promptly and we'd provide free after-care. And with us being an EU country just a 1-2 hour flight away from the UK, I hoped that our visitors would feel comfortable about making the journey, especially if they ever needed after-care.?

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In 2007, much to their despair after the launch of the website in mid-summer, Daniel & Dr. Marek had just 1 patient from the UK. But soon enough their website was "top of the pops" in Google, and they took ?on extra staff to handle the inflow of patients coming in each day, which soon became an average of 3-5 people from towns such as Edinburgh, Bristol, Liverpool, Dublin, Birmingham and London.

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An article in the Daily Mirror and Boots magazine about a former patients of theirs really helped to give their dental clinic and added boost, and credibility as well as visits by ex-footballers, male models, 60's music stars, and B-list actors.

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"We soon realised that our company name "Dental Holiday" wasn't the best choice, as just a handful of our UK patients decided to make a holiday of it and visit the spa, mountains and cities like Vienna. Instead most of them wanted to get as much dental treatment done as possible and return home. So we switched our strategy?to do as much dentistry as possible on each visit to save the patient making multiple journeys. We invested in new dental technologies like CEREC, and now the majority of our visitors need to make just one visit, and can go home with a new smile at much reduced price that what they would pay in the UK."

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As the demand for dental implants abroad continued to grow, Dr. Marek continued his training as a master implantologist, and Daniel attended numerous dental seminars in the UK organised by the British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry to keep up with the latest developments and techniques. He was also invited to speak at a conference concerning "medical tourism".

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"To serve our patients better, everything from CT Scans, X-rays, Payment Sheets to the administration of local anaesthetic was digitalized and patients were given local mobile phones, maps and information sheets to help them during their stay".

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However there were some problems out of our hands.?The bankruptcy of the airline SkyEurope left some of our Manchester patients stranded, and the recent Islandic volcano activity, UK snow and world financial crisis, brought our growing business to a standstill for some days, but thankfully soon recovered.

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"We've made lifelong friends with some of our patients, some of them even send over to us sausage rolls, pork pies and custard, because they know that we're are homesick for UK food ;-)"

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"Since my partnership with Dr. Marek in 2007, we've sent out over 5000 free treatment quotations and treated over 1000 UK patients. that's 1 in 5 UK of our enquiries opting for their dental treatment abroad. For many, those numbers show us as a successful business, however much more encouraging are the 100's of positive reviews that we've collected from former UK dental patients who have had their dental treatment abroad with us. ?When my receptionist shows me a new hand-written questionnaire, thank you card, video or online review to me at the end of the day, I know that we've done our job well."

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This year, the Dental Holiday team plan to move to new premises on the banks of Danube river, bringing them closer to Vienna airport to cater for their expansion to serve the increasing demand of new dental patients from Holland, Italy and Austria, as well as provide dental care for the growing international community living within Bratislava city centre.

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To contact Daniel Shaw, please use the contact form on the Dental Holiday website:?http://www.dentalholiday.co.uk/contact-dental-holiday.html

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