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April 17, 2008

Unified marketing

[email protected] talks to Gillian Taylor, business tourism/MICE manager, Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority, to find out what the emirate is doing to increase its meetings and incentives allure.

What initiatives are being undertaken by the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) to increase business tourism to Abu Dhabi?

Our aim is to create a vibrant business tourism environment with strong industry players, robust alliances and world-class infrastructure so that Abu Dhabi can deliver best practice MICE business successfully and provide the resulting benefits to our stakeholders.

The specific strategic objectives of the Business Tourism division at ADTA are to:

  • Work with all industry players to position Abu Dhabi as the premier business tourism destination in the world
  • To increase business tourism coming to Abu Dhabi and to maximise yield
  • To optimise new investment and infrastructure to attract business tourism
  • And to maximise opportunities for Abu Dhabi stakeholders

We wish to promote the destination as a team - and have a unified marketing front. We must create a high standard of excellence in everything that Abu Dhabi develops so that when the story of Abu Dhabi is told, people will not only be impressed but awe inspired!

As a new and emerging destination one initiative is to build a strong core of industry players and increasing the professionalism, effectiveness and creativity of our destination through industry education events and we have held a number of these and plan even more.

Another initiative is the production of our 2008 Business Tourism Planners Guide, our number one marketing tool for conventions and incentives, which is out now and available in print and on line.

Another initiative is the formation of our Energy Cities Alliance www.energycitieslliance.com together with Aberdeen, Calgary and Perth. The purpose is to create an alliance of energy focused cities to promote innovation and the delivery of best practice in convention planning and to work together with the exchange of leads and information.

ADTA is also an active supporter of SITE. I am a director on the SITE International Board representing Africa and Middle East and we are actively involved in the SITE Young Leaders programme educating the next generation of performance improvement leaders.

Then there is the formation of a MICE Industry Advisory Panel to tackle the major challenges and issues facing business tourism in Abu Dhabi.

The purpose of the panel is to work together to develop the world-class infrastructure required for Abu Dhabi to grow as a business tourism destination and to be a driving force in securing and promoting profitable business tourism for Abu Dhabi.

What current facilities and services does the emirate offer to business travellers?
The ongoing internationalisation of the economy is opening up a range of new opportunities for foreign business in many sectors. While there is no official tally, development projects and investments currently underway or in the pipeline in Abu Dhabi have been estimated at a staggering US$250 billion. In the tourism sector alone, the number of hotel rooms is set to grow from 10,000 to 25,000 by 2015.

The emirate presents business tourism specialists and meetings organisers with a rare combination of benefits - the facilities and services of a leading international business centre coupled with the attractions and recreational possibilities of a luxurious tourism destination.

Incoming event organisers can count on a comprehensive range of professional support services: experienced destination management companies, exhibition organisers, professional conference organisers, stand contractors, translation services, PR and marketing agencies etc. Nearly everyone speaks English and getting around is easy.

The business tourism division of ADTA offers free advice, assistance and local knowledge to those considering the city as a meeting, incentive or exhibition venue. It can offer support with bid presentations and site inspections, provide information material and promotional literature, and help boost delegate numbers through its offices in Germany, the UK and France.

How important is the corporate travel sector to Abu Dhabi?
Very important - we are not targeting mass tourism but specifically high-end leisure and Business Tourism with quite conservative numbers aiming for three million tourists overall by 2015. This objective is to change the tourism business structure from what it was in 2004: 20 percent leisure, 75 percent business and five percent MICE into 41 percent leisure, eight percent MICE and 51 percent business.

What assistance does ADTA offer to groups/associations looking to hold large-scale events in the emirate?

ADTA's Business Tourism Division is in essence doing what a convention bureau does and we offer all the services of a conventional convention bureau, including:

  • Assistance and support with bid presentations and site inspections for key decision makers and developing a tailored bid strategy to ensure an advantage over competing cities
  • Free advice, assistance in planning and local knowledge. One stop resource to all parties as a source of expertise, unbiased advice and on site destination advice
  • Supporting destination information material and promotional collateral
  • Delegate marketing and promotional activities through international offices in Germany, the UK and France.
  • Assistance with the co-ordination of activities and liaison between the organisers and local stakeholders.
  • Introductions to Abu Dhabi business tourism professionals
  • Secure support from key political, industry and tourism leaders and assist with any Government liaison that may be required.
  • Research appropriate venues and infrastructure
  • Assist with media releases and public relations opportunities.
  • Provide creative, innovative activities and pre- and post-touring ideas.

We are currently looking at additional ways that we can help, support and make it easy for decision makers to select Abu Dhabi as their business tourism destination.

How does hosting GIBTM help showcase the meetings potential of Abu Dhabi?

The aim of the Gulf Incentive Business Travel and Meetings Exhibition (GIBTM) is simple: to provide a business platform in the Gulf and Middle East region for international and regional venues, hotels, destinations and suppliers to meet with meeting planners, incentive travel buyers and those involved in the meetings and incentives industry. Hosting GIBTM, the leading exhibition for the meetings, incentives, events and business travel industry in the Gulf, fits in exactly with our strategy for specifically targeting this industry and we are delighted to have GIBTM here and wish to maintain a long term partnership with Reed Travel Exhibitions.

Prior to GIBTM, an 'Abu Dhabi Day' was held for Hosted Buyers so that we could showcase the meetings potential of Abu Dhabi and so that our stakeholders could participate in the best business-to-business opportunities, best networking and the best professional education during the show.

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