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April 17, 2008
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Playing host to an industry




meetme@GIBTM caught up with Anwar Abu Monassar, general manager, Net Group Abu Dhabi & Al Ain, to find out about the challenges of being the official DMC for GIBTM and how hosting its peers and colleagues makes Net Group up the ante on service delivery

What are the main responsibilities and challenges of being the official DMC for GIBTM?

Being the official DMC requires flexibility, experience, knowledge and a good amount of problem-solving skills. An event like GIBTM allows us huge exposure and it is important for the status of a DMC. Nevertheless, it is not a normal event and what is usually considered to be the main part of the job - the handling of an operation - is not the same for these kinds of event.

An official DMC has first of all the role to mix and balance the local situation with the expectations of the organisers – who are used to hosting events worldwide. A good DMC utilises its connections, information and local knowledge not only to handle but actually to be an advisor for the event. Company relationships and personal relationships play an essential role and this is more important in a context like Abu Dhabi.

Our role from the beginning was to educate the market on the meetings industry. We involved airport authorities, tourism authorities, the main players of the industry and even the taxi companies through meetings, roundtables and updates.

All of this has enabled us to grow in the market and allows us to see our business from different perspectives.

The main thing to notice is that GIBTM is not only a high-profile event, but a learning process with consequences for the future.

How has your role changed? What new responsibilities have been added since the 2007 event?

As an event grows, so do the skills and responsibilities of the supporting partners of the event. No doubt the experience of 2007 allowed Net Conferences & Conventions Abu Dhabi and Net Group as a whole to better understand the many requirements for 2008. At the same time the success of 2007 and the bigger show in 2008 has added new responsibilities and expectations from the hosted buyers, exhibitors and visitors of GIBTM 2008.

In any repeat event the role does not change, although it increases and expands in a natural way.

Working as DMC for a meetings event, does this mean you have to raise the bar on your services? After all, you are effectively serving your peers, colleagues and competition.

The meetings industry is considered to be at the high-end of the tourism industry and we have invested a lot in it, even from before the region was considered a potential venue for these events. Absolutely, GIBTM aims to offer high-end services and arrangements and, as you rightly mentioned, the fact we are hosting colleagues from the industry does push us to maximise on our commitment.

How have you seen the role of the DMC evolve in the Gulf in recent years?

A Destination Management Company is by terminology an establishment aimed at ‘managing’. I am proud to say that the incredible growth of the Arabian Peninsula over the last year is partly also the result of good players, including DMCs.

This is all the more valid when I consider that Net Group is a regional establishment with a presence almost everywhere since we started operations in 1989, when practically no one else was active.

Being proud of our past is important. The founder of this country once said that without our past we do not have a present or a future, and I do believe it. But it is also important to innovate in order to grow. We are trying to face new challenges and demands and I hope we will not be the only ones.

The only thing that concerns me personally is that at one time the industry was made up of only a few professionals. Nowadays, it is much larger, but not only with competent experts... [a lack of training] is a problem that the entire tourism industry worldwide is facing, and it is on the agenda of all major associations.

And how has the role of the PCO also evolved and gained recognition?

Professional Congress Organisers are younger establishments here in the region. For a long time and still today, the difference between a DMC and PCO is not yet perceived, although I am sure that PCOs will have a bright future and huge growth. New developments in the airline, tourism and real estate sector will contribute to the growth of the PCO and help these companies distinguish themselves.

Do you think the region understands the difference between DMC and PCO? What is Net Group doing to educate the market on this?

The difference is still not largely perceived, even if we are slowly raising awareness. The Net Group has been the first establishment to create - among its 10 different business units - a clear distinction by setting up Net Tours (leisure DMC), Incentive Production (incentive DMC), Net Cruises (cruise DMC) and Net Conference & Conventions (PCO, certified by IAPCO and a member of ICCA).

Our belief in having a specialised department made us the first to set up a PCO in the Gulf and our continuous involvement in events within the meetings industry is part of our plan to be a proactive force in establishing PCO business in the Gulf.

What further developments/education would you like to see in your field in the future?

Development of technology and more global players will definitely push us to innovate. This is the secret to keep expanding and growing. We are dedicating a lot of efforts in that and strongly believe that our job is distinct only when based on a certain service and not just the product itself.

I wish and welcome all professionals to be part of a history that we have started to write, but that can take us further if carried in the proper way.


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