By Fiona Ashton, Marketing Manager, Reed Travel Exhibitions
Every year as we wait for the official Arabian Travel Market ribbon-cutting, I feel a rush of emotion: relief that we’ve pulled it all together, excitement at the four days ahead; and pride in the effort of the entire marketing team.
This will be my fifth show as marketing manager and, working with a team split between London and Dubai, the co-ordination required to bring the region’s largest travel and hospitality industry event to fruition begins the second ATM closes its doors.
For 2016, we’ve added a unique new element to the show, with the introduction of #myATMstory, which gives visitors, exhibitors and our partners the opportunity to share their experiences through Twitter and through blogs like this.
The human interest angle is hugely important, and storytelling as a means to communicate is becoming increasingly powerful. We want to take you, our stakeholders behind the scenes to show you exactly how the marketing team prepares for each edition.
This is #myATMstory…
As a marketing team, we have two overarching responsibilities, the primary one is to attract high quality visitors to the show, whilst increasing the numbers each year. The second, inextricably linked to the first, is to ensure our clients; the exhibitors are achieving a solid return on their investment.
Everything starts with research, and we begin the process by sending out email surveys to each and every ATM attendee in order to be able to analyse all areas of the show.
This in-depth analysis is absolutely fundamental to our strategic development and to shaping plans for the year ahead, whether that’s deciding on seminar programme topics, identifying new growth avenues, or introducing new features.
We work hand-in-hand with our official PR Agency, Shamal Marketing Communications, to run an extensive PR campaign, run a hosted media programme, plus manage and promote the exhibitor press conference schedule.
The role of the marketing team also includes everything from selecting the annual host hotel, ground handler and airline partner to onsite visitor registration. We also manage all the official publications including the ATM catalogue, routeplanner, show dailies, Inside ATM magazine and the annual ATM Yearbook.
Extensive research has resulted in a number of new initiatives. For 2016 we’re introducing a new focus on travel agents with the launch of the Travel Agent Academy in half day professionally-led training sessions. We’re also running the inaugural Wellness & Spa 1-2-1 pre-scheduled appointment programme where international spa and wellness suppliers will meet and do business with Middle Eastern buyers. In addition the brand new blogger speed networking programme will give exhibitors the opportunity to meet with regional travel bloggers and explore ways to work together in an age, where recommendations, opinions and reviews are paramount in influencing travel purchasing decisions.
We work very closely with the travel trade media around the world negotiating advertising, press coverage, and digital promotions via their websites and e-newsletters promoting ATM to an international audience of visitor prospects.
This comes in the form of running webinars to support exhibitors in their operational planning and PR campaigns. We also run a series of workshops around the GCC and on a more practical point set up a portal on the ATM website where exhibitors can upload all their information and set up meetings with buyers registered to attend the show.
Seminars and Research Content
Part of attracting the right visitors to the show involves ensuring time out of the office and cost of traveling to Dubai is justified and therefore it falls to the marketing team to provide a packed programme of seminars. From researching initial themes and session formats, recruiting speakers, promoting the sessions and then managing the theatres on the day, we have our work cut out. 2016 will see the launch of the ATM Global Stage – showcasing leading industry professionals covering high level strategic topics.
Covers setting up and maintaining the ATM website, email campaign for visitor and buyer recruitment, managing the ATM Blog and the ATM app. In addition creating a buzz around the event on the major social media channels: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and Instagram, is absolutely integral to the overall marketing campaign.
ATM is a forum for buyers to meet sellers and do business and we at Reed Travel Exhibitions facilitate these relationships and business deals. In 2015, the ATM marketing team worked hard to attract over 26,000 visitors (15% increase) which resulted in over 770,000 meetings and $2.5bn of new business being generated on the show floor.
This is #myATMstory, what’s yours?