May 29, 2016

Reflecting back on the ATM…

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So, now that the ATM is well and truly over for 2016 and all travel industry experts have had time to breathe and recover from the ‘hustle and bustle’ of the four day event, we decided to take a step back too and think about what we learnt from this year’s travel industry bonanza…

A global meeting place for the travel trade industry, the ATM (Arabian Travel Market) is a well-established international event, bringing together travel professionals from 86 countries and regions to Dubai. Over the course of the four days, the travel trade industry takes this opportunity to meet, network, negotiate and reveal corporate stories all under one roof.

Exciting I hear you say? But was there anything different or new on the cards this year? Here’s what we learnt during our time running around over the several pavilions (aside from how to avoid blisters! ;))

Observation One: Mid-Market Brands

Yes, Dubai is all about the super-mega-ultra-luxurious five star hotels with wonderful facilities and offers that no other property in the world can possibly compete with, but the fact is that the global financial crisis, as well as the lower oil prices, has created the perfect atmosphere for the mid-market brands to grow and affirm themselves. A similar observation to last year, less disposable income affects travelers that are not keen to just completely cancel their dream trip has indeed opened up the game to the three and four star hotels.  Many mid-market hotel brands have been proving to the industry that they can provide guests with the right balance between offering competitive prices in, most of the time, 5 star facilities.

Observation Two: Techno Take over!

The trend of the techy traveler is ever on the rise, particularly in a world so monopolized by technology we were dying to find out what would be the technology trends that will radically transform the travel & hospitality industry in 2016 and beyond.  The topic on everyone’s mind was ‘The Future of the UAE as a global tourism hub’ with many new developments taking place. Walking around the ATM we noticed many of the exhibitors were launching new mobile app booking devises or app loyalty schemes making travel that extra bit more mod con than before. Its not just booking platforms though, we noticed over in the Travel Tech Theatre, highlights included ‘Mobile engagement: geo-fencing, beacons and service design in travel’ spotlighting where mobile has come and where it is heading, as well as how to affordably deploy and scale the latest smartphone technology.

Observation Three: Responsible Tourism

Responsible tourism is another key focus we noticed to headline several seminar theatre sessions, namely the headline session ‘Coping with success – the sustainability challenge in the region’. The hospitality industry today although getting bigger and better with the constant need to out-do the competitor with the latest trend, sustainability, CSR and eco-friendly advancements are on the rise. We predict huge advancements in this trend at the next ATM in 2017.

Observation Four: The Unknown…

With more than 100 hotels to open in Dubai in the next 4 years, the already saturated Dubai hospitality market will for sure reinvent itself again. The bigger, the better, the most exquisite has been seen all over the country, but the really question is…what will the new properties offer and whatever next?

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