Continuing its dedication to meeting the needs of the travel trade, Dubai Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) has launched a programme of focus groups to research frontline staff feedback about Dubai.
These sessions have been designed to enable the DTCM to listen to the trade and their first hand experience of selling the destination. The sessions are made up of a very small number of travel agents and tour operator reservations staff where everyone is encouraged to speak openly and freely about the destination.
Topics discussed during the forums include perceptions on culture, local laws, suitability for different market segments and affordability. They offer an open platform to address any queries and difficulties that they might experience when selling Dubai. The DTCM’s aim is to gain a clearer understanding of frontline staff’s experiences and to ensure that they have all the necessary knowledge to promote the destination, and overcome any misconceptions about Dubai.
The initial forums have given a clear indication of the trade’s perceptions of Dubai’s strengths and enduring popularity as a destination, plus the destinations key selling points were clearly understood. More importantly however, the DTCM was able to address some common misconceptions and give reassurances to the agents who took part. While it is well known for its luxury accommodation, beaches and shopping malls, some agents were unaware of Dubai’s rich cultural experiences available primarily in the old town, including Bastakiya, Jumeirah Mosque and the wider area around Dubai Creek. Popular conversation topics also included local customs and etiquette and the need to show respect and modesty in this Islamic country; but at the same time there was an opportunity to openly discuss misconceptions surrounding the consumption of alcohol, dress code and perceived restrictions imposed on non-married couples.
The DTCM is collating the most common areas of discussion, concern or misunderstanding and will be incorporating more information in training presentations and revising familiarisation trip itineraries accordingly. They will also be partnering with the Foreign & Commonwealth Office early in 2011 to produce collateral for agents and customers alike.
In 2010 forums were held with Emirates Tours, Premier Holidays, Gold Medal, Travelpack, Travelbag, If Only… and Barrhead Travel. More will be planned in 2011 alongside the DTCM’s popular tour operator partnership events when agents are thanked for their hard work and trained on the destination.
Ian Scott, UK and Ireland director of the Government of Dubai, Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), comments: “At the DTCM we are committed to helping the travel trade as we recognise that they are a vital component to the success of Dubai. We are investing time to ensure that travel agents know what Dubai’s strengths are, and have the knowledge to tackle any misconceptions or issues they face from customers. We want to make it as easy as possible for agents to sell and promote Dubai and the focus groups have proven to be a great tool to enable us to work together successfully. We look forward to continuing the initiative into 2011.”