UAE-based travel agents have urged tourism boards to visit them more often and supply them with more brochures.
"Travel agents need to become more familiar with destinations and in order to do that, if they can't visit the place, they need more brochures to show the clients," explained Dubai's Al-Futtaim Travel general manager Mike Booker.
"We also need more regular visits from the tourism board representatives."
He was speaking at the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) ‘What's new in Asia Pacific' seminar held at the InterContinental Dubai Festival City Hotel on March 17, which was organised by Dubai's Fusion Marketing, sponsored by Qatar Airways, IHG and The Business Travel Show and supported by Arabian Travel News.
Around 150 people from the travel, tourism, corporate and media sectors participated in the all-day event, which showcased new products and services from the PATA region's leading tourism boards, including Australia, India, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and New Zealand.
Nicki Page, the executive director of Fusion Marketing, a specialist PR agency for travel, tourism and hotels, and regional representative office for The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), explained how the event adopted an "Oprah style" concept, bringing each tourism board to the stage to sit in an informal sofa-style set-up and discuss what was new in their particular destination.
Page and Gemma Greenwood, senior group editor, ITP Business Publishing and the editor of Arabian Travel News asked each tourism board questions about how agents could best sell their product.
Agents were also asked for their input, hence Booker's comments regarding brochures.
In a straw poll conducted at the event, 90% of the agents said they agreed with his sentiments.
ATN and Fusion also hosted a roundtable discussion involving Peter Hoslin, head of marketing, Abu Dhabi Airports Company (ADAC); Rimzie Ismail, general manager, Dubai Airport; and Leo Fewtrell, manager, Dubai Travel and Tour Agents Group (DTTAG).
Agency issues discussed and debated by the panel and the audience included commission cuts, airlines' direct-sell tactics and why Dubai agents should sign up to DTTAG.
"The event provided an excellent opportunity to spread the DTTAG message and it was great to get direct response from the travel trade whether positive or negative. Open lines of communication are vital in order to increase understanding."
For a full round up on the PATA event, see the May issue of ATN.For all the latest travel news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
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