Alpha Destination Management, the leading travel consultant in the Arabian Gulf, has signed an exclusive agreement with Expedia, the world’s largest online travel company, to operate the Expedia Local Expert programme in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Talking to TTN, Samir Hamadeh, general manager of Alpha Destination Management spoke about travel and trends shaping the Middle East travel and tourism sector.
What is the future of travel to Dubai?
Dubai continues to impress both residents and visitors with a tourism product that never ceases to evolve. The emirate is becoming a major attractions hub and is quickly maturing as a destination that one can return to – and still have an experience as fulfilling as the first time. The recent addition of 17 new leisure attractions, strong year-round calendar of events and entertainment, world-class infrastructure, superb global connectivity, expansion of low-cost carriers and development of mid-market hotels, further reinforces its position on the world map and are all steps in the direction to grow both new and repeat visitors. The more the destination creates attractions and tailors its products to cater to diverse tourists, the better conversion it can expect. There is need to build on experiential travel.
In Mice travel, where does the UAE stand?
Superb global connectivity, broadening portfolio of attractions and facilities, fabulous hotels and the latest technology and set-ups to facilitate large-scale events have pushed the UAE to the top of the Mice destination list in the Middle East.
A global destination Index in 2016 revealed the top Mice destinations in Asia, Europe, Middle East and USA. The UAE was recognised as the most popular destination for incentives and conferences in the Middle East. In Europe, France and Italy were identified as the top countries for meetings and incentives while Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore were recognised as the leading Mice destinations in Asia. Texas topped the list in USA, followed by Florida and Las Vegas.
Dubai received the Overseas Luxury Mice Destination of the Year 2016 recognition at the China Travel & Meetings Industry Awards - Business Travel & Mice, and was named the Middle East's Leading Meetings & Conference Destination 2016 at the World Travel Awards Middle East, in addition to also winning the People’s Choice Award.
2016 also saw Dubai win many global Mice events to be held in the coming years including the World Congress of Cardiology 2018, Lions Clubs International ISAAME Forum 2018 and The International Federation of Health Information Management Associations International Congress 2019.
How do you see the Mice segment evolving?
According to the ITB World Travel Trends Report, Mice contribution to the total travel market is 54 per cent. Globally the Mice market, which includes around 400,000 conferences and exhibitions, is estimated at a size of $300 billion. Therefore, Mice is a very lucrative segment for agents and operators. Excellence, innovation, personalisation, flexibility, originality, competitive pricing and value-added packages are the key to succeed in this demanding segment. These days we are increasingly witnessing demand for Bleisure Travel (Business + Leisure) among Mice travellers hence it is important that we focus on offering experiences and added value to our customer. Our approach to Mice needs to be different than other segments and key to that is coming up with new ideas and curated packages.
What will be your main strategy for 2018? Which market segments will you be targeting?
Alpha strategy will be to not go for new source markets to seek new business but to target specific niche segments in existing markets such as seniors, special needs and more to boost business. We believe there are certain niche areas that have been ignored and underestimated such as the seniors’ segment which is worth billions of dollars globally and if we design the right packages it will be more valuable than the mass Asian market.
TTN is the most established trade publication in the Middle East distributed on a controlled circulation basis to members of the travel and tourism industry.
Published monthly by Al Hilal Publishing and Marketing Group, the region’s foremost trade publisher, TTN is aimed at professionals in the industry, from travel agents to airline and hotel personnel.
TTN provides in-depth and extensive coverage of relevant issues in the Middle East and North Africa as well as in other parts of the world. Travel related news, analysis, and new appointments together with information on up-coming exhibitions, marketing and promotional campaigns are presented in an innovative and striking colour tabloid.
Every issue also contains a collation of international and regional news and topical features of interest to readers.