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November 4, 2008

SITE seminar in Dubai

Are our incentives inventive enough? This was the topic that was discussed in an open forum on September 28th at  the Grand Hyatt Dubai. Industry professionals and SITE members in the UAE were invited to debate the challenges currently facing the industry, with the objective of discovering what can be done to ensure that Dubai remains on the radar of incentive planners.


On hand was an expert panel which included Gillian Taylor - manager business tourism, ADTA ; Jerad Bachar, head of sales and conventions, Dubai Convention Bureau ; Vipin Khattar, director of conventions, Atlantis The Palm ; Jyoti Panchmatia, general manager, SNTTA ; and Malek Safa, director of convention sales, Grand Hyatt Dubai. Rob Nicholas, publisher of meetme moderated the event.


Topics covered included :
- Recession in the source markets/ inflation in our market/ adjusting to economic variance
- Creativity and inventiveness
- Environment related issues

As panelists represented all sectors of the industry, they were unanimous that the crisis affecting the financial sector and the recession in traditional markets like the UK and Germany would have a ripple effect on this region and that the UAE need to start identifying new source markets, from within the Middle East as well as towards booming economies of India and China.


The high prices in Dubai were seen as one of the deterrents eating into already limited or shrinking budgets. Panellists were in agreement that Dubai and Abu Dhabi both have great products to offer, but what is needed is the ability to offer different price points, which will encourage markets suffering from price constraints and broaden the net as well.


Questions were raised about the creativity in the product offered – and the general opinion was that there needed to be more creative options especially in the availability of heritage sites such as museums for creative theming of an event.


The region is also finding an increasing emphasis on CSR when pitching for large scale events having ceased to be a fad and something that needs to be responded to. The Dubai Convention Bureau is making known the efforts that are being made city-wide and to tell the story to a wider audience, while Abu Dhabi felt that in addition to having an environmentally friendly venues such as ADNEC, they were being taken more seriously since announcing the zero-carbon emission city of Masdar.


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