Selecting the Right Travel Influencer for Your Brand

Travel influencers are great for reaching the right audience and influencing and swaying travel zeitgeists and trends. As businesses start to allocate larger budgets for influencer marketing, influencers are increasing in number as well. In this blog, we provide you with several parameters to help you narrow down your search when selecting travel influencers.

What are Travel Influencers?

Travel influencers are individuals with large active followings on digital media (usually) who produce travel content. Their content informs and even generates demand for travel destinations. The fact is, people know that they want to travel and experience something new. They, however, don’t know where to go. That is why taste-makers like travel influencers are essential for any tourism board or brand. Further to that, travel influencers can influence their followers to use a particular travel agent or engage with certain products and services during a journey. 

What do Travel Influencers Do?

Travel influencers travel to destinations and share their experiences with their followers. Their feedback is usually accompanied by rich visual content such as pictures, videos or vlogs. Ultimately, however, the primary identifier of an influencer isn’t the number of travel destinations they’ve covered or the number of followers they have. It is more about how influential they are when it comes to making their followers take action — be it clicking on a website, filling out a survey, or even travelling to the intended destination. An influencers relationship with their community is vital.

Segmentation and Targeting

Usually, travel influencers target a particular traveller segment and demographic. Often, this demographic resembles the influencer the most. For example, a family travel influencer will have a family of their own whom they’ll include feedback and experiences of when it comes to producing content for other similar families. Other than that, travel influencers come in all shapes and sizes, likes and dislikes. From teenage travel influencers to couples, thrill-seekers to senior citizens, and oddly enough, even a 1-year old baby traveller

Essentially, travel influencers cut through all the advertising noise and over-promotion that frequently occurs today. That is because they are seen as unbiased and trustworthy sources of information. Travel influencers are trusted because their whole reputation depends on the authenticity of their reviews. Should they engage in any unfair promotion, their career can go up in flames. Although they do receive monetary incentives and free trips (in exchange for their coverage of an area), there is an unwritten contract between the influencer and the brand. It implies that the influencer will share their explicit and unfiltered opinion about the travel destination, even if it is negative. The travel influencers contract with society is to give them accurate insights into the advantages and disadvantages of each place from the viewpoint of an actual customer. Often these influencers serve as the litmus test to whether an excursion is really worth the fuss or not.

The Different Kinds of Travel Influencers

There are many kinds of travel influencers. Here we’ll cover three. The trickster, the celebrity, and the specialist.

The Trickster

Your hotel gets a call from a travel influencer who offers to review your hotel for his many followers and he wants to bring his friends to test the experience with him. You investigate his social media accounts and it becomes evident that this influencer really means business. Examples of other hotels he has covered are scattered all across his Instagram account. His follower count is high, ridiculously high. So you make a deal with the influencer and buy tickets for him and his friends and they pay you a visit.

Weeks later the influencers review is up and to your amusement it’s highly favourable. What seems to be a good deal to you was in actuality a scam, and it is highly unlikely that this influencers reviews will drive any bookings for your hotel.

Firstly, the other hotels that were covered on the “influencers” page were previous victims. The high follower count? Bots that were programmed to create fake social media accounts that will follow and like the trickster’s account and his content.

The Celebrity

These individuals are already famous by virtue of their profession. They include actors, musicians, sportsmen and even internet icons. When their followers display characteristics of the right demographic, the celebrity is considered when selecting travel influencers.

The Specialist

Just like any travel influencer, this individual will engage in an experience with your brand, and then proceed to review it online. This entrepreneurial breed of influencer however distinguish themselves from the rest by a few things. Firstly they will attempt to arrange discounts for the portion of their followers who decide to engage with your brand. The way that this is done is that they will create a code for example “Travel2021” and they will ask you to provide a set discount for any individual who uses this code. This way you can track the efficacy of that influencer’s review by counting the number of bookings they helped you achieve.

Further to that this influencer type has a systematic approach to their content creation. First, they produce content about your brand/destination before their arrival in order to build anticipation among their followers. Then they produce content during their trip, and lastly, the third batch is produced once they have left. The final version is where their full review and follower code are found.

Converting this kind of influencer to an advocate can prove to be a strategic advantage. If their experience with your brand proves to be highly favourable their praises for it may extend well beyond your deal with them. This may come in the form of unexpected lip service or an answer to a question such as “Which hotel would you recommend for a week in XYZ?” Essentially with this kind of influencer, you are dealing with an opinion leader, and one positive experience on their end could translate to a lifetime of positive word of mouth for you.

Selecting Travel Influencers

Below is a quick checklist you can use in selecting travel influencers that will yield the highest return on investment.

1) Go Micro

Suppose your brand provides trips for Arab families from the Middle East. Simply opting for any family influencer who seems to display all the right signals isn’t going to be sufficient. For example, a European family travel influencer will enjoy an evening out wine tasting on the hills of Italy while their children explore the vineyards. An Arab family, however, who more often than not are Muslim, will shrivel at the thought of taking their children with them to see a vineyard. In that case, a Muslim family travel influencer would be ideal. 

Furthermore, a senior couple whom children don’t accompany will have a much different idea of what constitutes a vacation than those who do have children. It’s therefore imperative to be clear on all the specifics before selecting travel influencers. You can segment even further by targeting the actual decision-makers in a family when it comes to travel destination selection. According to data, mothers are the key decision-makers when it comes to Middle Eastern families. So, in this case, a married female Muslim travel influencer who has children would be optimal. 

Click on the following link to learn more about who makes travel decisions in the Arab household. To formulate a clear influencer marketing plan, you need to obtain precise data on who exactly your ideal market is or would be. Gulf Reps’ network of travel agencies can provide you with precisely that kind of competitive edge.

Going micro with your influencer marketing efforts is the most effective way to grow your conversions (or the number of individuals who do end up booking a trip). Going micro is also one of the reasons it would be wise to select influencers with medium-sized followerships.

2) Choose the Middle Ground When Selecting Travel Influencers

Travel influencers who truly create content for a micro niche will seldom have extremely high follower counts. The connection between these influencers and their followers is, however, highly potent and tightly knit. It is akin to a community of like-minded individuals who share similar lifestyles and values—a community with the influencer at its head as an opinion leader.

Influencers who veer off into the deeper end of the followership pool and start to reach the millions will have most likely fallen off track from their initial focus niche. This happens when they begin to target a larger and more generic market. This translates to less influence as that community feeling that comes with more targeted niches starts to disintegrate. Famous travel influencers such as these will come at a high price and a long list of demands should they agree to work with you. A hefty bill for an ineffective campaign is highly unfortunate. 

If you decide that selecting this path is the most suitable course of action, be wary of influencers with massive fake followings.

3) Choose an Influencer You Do Not Mind Being Associated With

It is absolutely essential to very deeply research potential influencers and their history before engaging in any form of communication with them. Influencers can quickly become strongly associated with your brand in viewers’ minds. Therefore, it is vital to ensure that a proposed influencer does not engage in any off-brand activities. 

The frightening part of influencer marketing is that you’re associating your brand with someone else’s personal brand. If that person experiences lapses in judgement, it could reflect badly on your business. Therefore it can be hazardous to partner with dangerously eccentric influencers unless, of course, your brand itself carries with it unconventional undertones.

4) Focus on the Right Digital Metrics

Instead of relying on simple metrics such as follower counts, the engagement rate is a much more accurate metric for determining an influencer’s efficacy in digital terms. In plain words, the engagement rate is the percentage of an account’s followers who have actually engaged with a specific post. Through this metric potential influencer red flags such as unengaged followers or, even worse yet: fake followers can be detected. Generally speaking, on platforms such as Instagram, engagement rates higher than 3% are highly favourable.

Gulf Reps

Attaining an excellent influencer to brand fit is akin to having an uncountable number of well-travelled individuals suggesting your brand to their friends. In marketing, nothing is more formidable than positive word of mouth from an individual’s friend. That’s exactly what we strive for here at Gulf Reps—selecting travel influencers that might as well as be talking to their childhood friends. Because their suggestions always fall on attentive ears. We only work with a handful of the most successful travel influencers who have a proven ability to drive value to our clients.

To find out more about our services, you can call us at +971 (0)4 703 6333 or write to us at sammy@gulfreps.com

The Highest Spending Tourist Types to Target

From backpackers to business tourists and even religious pilgrims, the different types of travellers are endless. In this blog, we delve into the highest spending tourist types using their nation/region of origin as a medium of comparison. Read on to discover the ideal tourist type for your brand or business.

Highest Spending Tourist Types: Asia

Arab Tourists

Arabia is a region known for its wealthy nationals and their lavish spending habits; it should therefore come as no surprise that the average Arab traveller spends the most on tourism. That is around $3,000 per trip, according to The State of Middle East Outbound Travel 2019. During 2017, travellers from Qatar spent $5,000 as pre-departure expenditures, while UAE travellers spent $4,753, and Kuwaitis $3,068. Known to stay for longer holidays and have an affinity for more luxurious offerings, the Arab traveller is a highly sought-after tourist. Data from VisitBritian from 2018 showed that the top 5 spending nationals in trips to the UK were predominantly Arabs, with the exception of Chinese nationals making the list. With Kuwait having the top average expenditure per individual and UAE having the lowest of the 5, expenditures ranged from $3,391 to $2,030. Others included in that list were Saudi Arabia and Qatar. 

Apart from their economy-boosting spending habits, Arab travellers are known to stay twice as long as the average tourist and are also known to repeat visits. That’s why acquiring one Arab family to your travel destination is the equivalent of obtaining six families from other regions. Chiefly of the Muslim faith, this tourist type is fond of conservative environments/excursions and halal foods.

Chinese Tourists

Now it can be argued that this one is just a play on statistics and that due to Chinas vast population, there are likely to be higher instances of wealthy tourists who like to engage in extravagant holidays. However, it is also a fact that Chinas easing of travel restrictions and the emergence of a newly rich Chinese middle class has also contributed to their making this list. Furthermore, the availability of direct flights to premiere destinations such as Spain also makes travel easier for the Chinese. With the number of Chinese people owning passports steadily increasing, there doesn’t seem to be anything stopping this trend.

Highest Spending Tourist Types: North America

American Tourists

According to research, travel is America’s favourite use of disposable income. The average American spends $1,900 on an average trip that usually lasts around a month. While the majority of the younger American populations (Millenials) travel for “experience tourism” purposes or to “find one’s self”, older individuals (35 years and above) lean more towards areas where there are exquisite foods and drinks. On average, the American traveller spends most of their money on travel food, as sampling local delicacies is a pattern among this tourist group.

Highest SpendingTourist Types: Europe

German Tourists

According to one source, “ (A) Germans’ average annual expenditures for holiday travel significantly surpass spending on automobile purchases.” Famed for their sheer numbers and their unsurprising appearance the moment you remark “there’s no one here,” Germans wear the “travel champions” crown proudly and deservedly. The German tourist is relatively unadventurous in their choice of food and trying local cuisines. They do, however, eat and drink enormous amounts. Their colossal appetite informs their choice of accommodation (something else they spend very liberally on). It is an absolute must that the hotel they check-in at must allow generous helpings at the breakfast buffet. The German travellers eating habits is an excellent cornerstone to base your targeting efforts around. Generally speaking, German travellers prefer outdoor excursions and sunny ones at that. Making beaches an obvious key attraction for them. They also enjoy exploring cultural hot zones such as museums, castles and monuments. 

Gulf Reps and the Highest Spending Tourist Types

Gulf Reps is the leading travel and tourism representation company in the Middle East, with over 60 years of regional and industry experience. Gulf Reps has served clients on six continents, delivering transformative results to everyone from hoteliers to tourism boards. Our mix of world-class marketing expertise, PR specialists, unparalleled connections and relationships and eclectic mix of marketing channels makes working with Gulf Reps the only sure way to drive Middle Eastern tourists to your destination.

To find out more about our services, you can call us at +971 (0)4 703 6333 or write to us at sammy@gulfreps.com

5 Technologies that Will Revolutionize Travel


The moment you think humanity has outdone itself and produced another groundbreaking innovation that won’t be topped, at least for a good while, you’re forced to think again. It seems like we’re waking up to crazy new inventions every morning as we inch closer and closer to a reality that cannot be compared to anything but a science fiction film. In this blog, we aim to outline the top 5 travel technologies that are going to make your favourite fictional film non-fiction. The blog is divided into two parts: a) Future Travel Technologies and b) Travel Technologies Available Now.



Future Travel Technologies

1) The Metaverse

Being our favourite on the travel technologies list, it’s fitting that we start with it. Announced in early November by none other than Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, the world witnessed in disbelief as Mark presented the concept for what most people predicted was set for aeons from now. The augmented reality that will be accessible through smart glasses is set to revolutionize how people connect online. By wearing smart glasses, individuals will be able to enter a real-time virtual version of a familiar environment such as their workplace or an entirely new digital world — all from the comfort of their home.

When it comes to the travel industry, the same infrastructure that is supposed to make working from home more effective can be used by tourism industry staff (imagine hologram tour guides) and by travellers themselves. Although some detractors guess that the Metaverse‘s effect is going to be a far cry from beneficial. Their claims that individuals opting into the virtual world instead of purchasing real-life vacations — or even simple outdoor living, is a bit far fetched, and at most, highly romantic of dystopian sci-fi fantasies. On the contrary, the Metaverse actually has a lot to offer the travel industry, especially when it comes to sharing travel experiences with those close to us. At pandemic times like these, for example, the Metaverse can also be used to reduce contact between vacationers and tourism staff by the latter’s use of hologram versions of themselves. In short, the Metaverse will revolutionize:

  • How travellers can test destinations or even hotels before travelling.
  • How they can navigate their way around a location once they are there.
  • How they can share their experiences with others.



i) Think VR Familiarization Trips Except More Intense

VR familiarization trips usually come in the form of a recorded video of a destination that users can watch on a screen or VR device while being able to control the angle from which the camera is shooting. Through this, they can glimpse every angle of the recorded area as the video proceeds. It’s as if the person’s face was the camera, and wherever their face looks is what is displayed. With the Metaverse, however, an individual can jump into the desired location, move freely and see exactly what individuals in that location see at that moment.



ii) Using the Metaverse for Navigation

Instead of pulling out a device to continuously look down at, to find your way around an area, the Metaverse has the potential to allow the environment itself to speak to you and give you on-site directions. Picture a virtual tour guide robot that hovers around and points you in the right direction. Or even picture the very arrow displays found on map apps on your phone, popping up in front of you in real life and highlighting the way. In the same way your environment in the Metaverse can direct you, it can also inform and educate you. 

Although Oculus VR headsets are getting lighter and less cumbersome as time proceeds, walking around with one of these wrapped around your head may be a little odd. Luckily there are talks of making a more user-friendly headset and even an eye lens version in the not so distant future.  



iii) Sharing Your Trips with Those Close to You

Imagine that you’ve travelled to France, but a family member who wanted to come along couldn’t make it. With the Metaverse, that family member can be with you as a hologram and see everything you see. And for those who aren’t ready to actively engage in the vacation as an overseas hologram, parts of the experiences can be exported to them. They can then view these 3D pieces of virtual art from the comfort of their home. Furthermore, this platform will also make playing a game of ping-pong on the streets of Tokyo with your friend who is on the other side of the globe a stunning reality.



2) Vertical Take-off Air Taxis (eVTOL)

The long-anticipated moment where an aeroplane starts closing into its final destination and the geographical and infrastructural features of the region begin to become apparent is surreal. The few minutes right before landing are the most entertaining. It looks like that is a sight travellers can expect to get used to seeing. According to Uber, air taxis will be available for everyone in the near future. Getting a birds view of your vacation area every time you are out and about may be within our proverbial doorsteps.



Travel Technologies Available Now

3) Smart Robots

Now for something a bit closer to the present moment and one of the travel technologies already in service across some parts of the world. Robots are starting to replace humans as receptionists in hotels and other similar jobs. The advantages they offer range from their being available 24/7 and their speed in completing processes and accepting requests as compared to a human. True, unemployment is already an issue, but these robots have proven to be a valuable safety measure in current times. Even beyond that, a mix of both a human and robot workforce will produce great synergy. This way, smart robots can carry out the tasks that humans deem troublesome or risky, while humans focus on more pertinent tasks.

Further to the first point, some robots are being designed to serve food and complete other catering tasks. These smart pieces of aluminium will also come in handy when it comes to engaging with guests through different languages. This is because a singular bot can learn many languages and therefore be fit to serve all nationalities. Smart robots can also aid in pinpointing customer preferences by collecting customer data and utilizing it for a better customer experience and much more.



4) The Ambassador Interpreter from Wavery Labs

“Clip Ambassador to your ear and start chatting.” Ambassador is about half the size of your palm and can clip onto either of your ears. Turn the device on and translate other languages as you hear them in real-time. Alternatively, you can speak, and the device will translate your words to listeners. Coming with 20 languages and over 40 dialects, the Ambassador is set to revolutionize communication for travellers. Now all you have to worry about is not being part of any cultural misunderstanding. Maybe Wavery Labs can make guides for these cultural ques on their next release.



5) Smart Luggage

Ranging from suitcases that simply allow you to charge your smartphone/tab to devices that connect to your smartphone to monitor and control your luggage, and finally, suitcases that actually follow you around. Brands such as OVIS and Travelmate boast that last feature. Although both suitcases can be pulled around manually if the user desires to do so, the OVIS Auto-follow Suitcase once engaged, releases an additional set of wheels and starts to follow its owner based on a smart bracelet worn around their wrist. Don’t worry about your suitcase being a menace to other travellers as these suitcases come equipped with travel collision technology.



Enough About Travel Technologies Let’s Talk Gulf Reps

Gulf Reps is the leading travel and tourism representation company in the Middle East. With over 60 years of regional and industry experience. Gulf Reps has served clients on six continents, delivering transformative results to everyone from hoteliers to tourism boards. Our mix of world-class marketing expertise, PR specialists, unparalleled connections and relationships and eclectic mix of marketing channels makes working with Gulf Reps the only sure way to drive Middle Eastern tourists to your destination.

To find out more about our services, you can call us at +971 (0)4 703 6333 or write to us at sammy@gulfreps.com

In Focus: 5 business rules to live by from our CEO Sammy Musa

For this month’s “In Focus” interview, we spoke to our very own CEO and Managing Partner of Gulf Reps, Sammy Musa. Sammy has a diverse background in management and leadership in both Europe and the Middle East. He was fundamental in the construction and delivery of one of Africa’s most innovative dairy collection systems creating an entire value chain that was mutually beneficial for all partners, as well as building several businesses in the UK. In 2015 he took over as managing partner for Gulf Reps and the company has seen unprecedented growth ever since. We asked Sammy to outline the 5 business rules he lives by, and we believe there’s something for everyone to learn here:

1. Honesty and Integrity

I grew up in a small village in the north of England. There was no hiding from the truth there, your every move was captured by the 1980’s equivalent of the CCTV camera: The nosey neighbour. To be ‘absolutely, brutally honest’ was something that was instilled in us as children. We are all human, we make mistakes, but in business, I’ve found that anything other than total honesty has far too many negative impacts. To the same extent, I always work with integrity. I believe that people are inherently good, and I work with everyone I meet on face value. Of course, at times you get burned by people who don’t live by the same values, but nonetheless, I won’t ever stop living by these two values. They are part of my makeup and I strongly believe that failure to work honestly and with integrity with my clients, partners and team will result in failure in the long term. 

2. Reliability

Many years ago I worked on a huge project in Africa. Now, whilst not all of Africa has issues with timekeeping, this particular enclave did. It drove me crazy. In the UK if you arrive at a 3 pm meeting at 3:02 you’re late! This is how I’ve always operated. If I  make a promise I always keep it barring force majeure. Equally, I’m comfortable saying “no” to people. It’s not because I don’t want to help, it’s because I don’t believe I can achieve what is required in the timescale needed. I’d rather be honest and reliable than overly optimistic and flakey. 

3. Be Inspiring

Every business book in the world will talk about inspiring leadership and every leader has his own style. I personally try to lead by example. Whilst I work extremely hard to achieve success, I am fortunate enough to have an amazing team around me. You have to trust your team to deliver to the level and standard that you set. I ensure that my teams are clear in their direction, where we are heading, what we are trying to achieve and I try to make sure they believe that it is only possible if we all do it together. This culture of togetherness allows me to be with the team even when I am not physically there. They know what it means to be part of Gulf Reps, they know what standards we set for our client’s and for our partners, they know what is an acceptable level of delivery and what is not. 

4. Keep Innovating

Like it or not our industry is going through a radical change. All change represents opportunity, and it is in innovations, particularly innovations from other industries that we can exploit those changes. I encourage everyone around me to keep up to date with the latest in our industry, but also from around other industries, it’s surprising how many innovations can be gleaned from what is happening in totally different industries. I remember at the heart of the pandemic and lockdowns reading an article in New Scientist magazine about advances in remote surgery through virtual reality. This led to a proposal of VR familiarization trips for one of our clients that could allow for prospective travellers to experience destinations before they travel. 

5. Know Your Strengths, Know Your Weaknesses, Fill the Gaps

I have fastidious attention to detail. I know it and I allow my teams to use it regularly. Whenever there’s a new press release, or a white paper, or even this blog post, I run my eye through it as I have an innate ability to spot errors. However, whilst I’m a competent presenter and public speaker, I hate it. That’s why I ensure that the people around me fill the gaps that I leave behind. In the end, the art of building a company is building teams that are greater than the sum of their parts. And that starts with me.  

Gulf Reps

Gulf Reps is the leading travel and tourism representation company in the Middle East. With over 60 years of regional and industry experience. Gulf Reps has served clients on six continents delivering transformative results to everyone from hoteliers to tourism boards. Our mix of world-class marketing expertise, PR specialists, unparalleled connections and relationships and eclectic mix of marketing channels makes working with Gulf Reps the only sure way to drive Middle Eastern tourists to your destination.

Arab Travellers: Who really makes the travel decisions in Arab households?

Arab travellers are a sought after demographic. Collecting data from the Insight Out Consumer Travel Report 2018, UNWTO 2019 Travel Report, The State of Social Media MENA 2019 and countless interviews and questionnaires we have conducted over the years, we ask the simple question: who really makes the travel decisions in Arab households?

Who Cares?

The question is an important one and goes to the crux of what it means to be a great representation company. Knowing your customers, their habits, their decision-making processes, and how they finally make purchases, allows you to influence the various stages of the buyer’s journey. This is done by using the correct channels and the most appropriate content for each target customer. Stereotypes are real. They exist, whether we like it or not. Lazy marketing employees use these stereotypes to have us believe that Arab men make all major financial decisions and that their iron will and meek wives make the question asked above a redundant one. Sadly, stereotypes haven’t followed the data whatsoever in this case.

Why Arab Travellers?

Arab GCC travellers are the holy grail of international travellers for those in the know. They spend on average 2 times longer on their holiday, spend approximately 6 times more than the average traveller and have a tendency to repeat visits. To acquire a single Arab family to your destination is equivalent to 6 families from other regions. Acquiring the Arabian traveller is a mission worth undertaking and it starts with the biggest question of them all: Who really makes the travel decisions in Arab households?

So who makes the decisions?

The data is clear, Arab women are the PRIMARY decision-makers when it comes to destinations for GCC Arab households. They obtain information from a range of sources, including online reviews, social media, friends feedback and personal experiences. They collate these views and then use their internal filter to decipher whether the destination is right for them. One of the critical filters includes whether the location is child-friendly, Muslim friendly and whether it has the expected level of service. 

So, now you know. So what?

Armed with this information, as a destination you should ask yourself: Are you putting enough resources and budget into attracting Arab travellers? Are you creating campaigns and delivering content that meets the actual decision-makers need at the time of making her decision? Does your representation company have solutions to help you do this? At Gulf Reps we truly understand the Arabian traveller, we have built direct to consumer channels with over 60,000 Arab international travellers for the exclusive use of our clients to promote their destinations. We not only build campaigns to bring Arab travellers to you, but we also have case study after case study that proves the efficacy of our work. 

Gulf Reps

Gulf Reps is the leading travel and tourism representation company in the Middle East. With over 60 years of regional and industry experience. Gulf Reps has served clients on six continents delivering transformative results to everyone from hoteliers to tourism boards. Our mix of world-class marketing expertise, PR specialists, unparalleled connections and relationships and eclectic mix of marketing channels makes working with Gulf Reps the only sure way to drive Middle Eastern tourists to your destination.

5 Reasons travel marketing campaigns fail

Once upon a time, firearms just weren’t that reliable. You’d load your gun, pull the trigger and be summarily shot in the face. The term used to describe this undesirable, albeit accidental, phenomenon is called “backfire”. It happens in marketing too, where groupthink, overzealous leadership, an over-ambitious agency or just plain ignorance produces marketing campaigns that have the world making this emoji face: 🤔. In this post, we’ll explore the top 5 reasons travel marketing campaigns fail and how to avoid them. 

1. Honesty

“Aleppo is a lively bustling city, with beautiful scenic walks, exquisite architecture and a history to die for.” Well, this is technically true, but it is also war-torn, militia filled and frankly the worlds most dangerous city. All marketing is based on relative truth. Not to say that marketers lie, but the truth can often not be explained in 5 words. For example, “Head and Shoulders will clear your dandruff in 7 days”. This is a relative truth. It’s not an absolute truth. The absolute truth is “If you use head and shoulders every day for at least 7 days, but more likely 10 days, then there is a high probability that your dandruff will disappear, but if you stop using head and shoulders after this time, it is almost guaranteed that your dandruff will re-appear”. Doesn’t have the same ring to it, does it? Absolutely truth, or relative truth, it doesn’t matter, just don’t LIE. The tiny country of Lithuania learned this lesson the hard way, when they launched their $150,000 “Real is Beautiful” campaign, only to use stock imagery of other Nordic and eastern European countries in the campaign. There’s no relativity there – that’s just a lie. 

2. Travel marketing campaigns fail: Inappropriate Targetting

One of the main reasons travel marketing campaigns fail is inappropriate targeting. Who do you actually want to visit your destination? Often the response will be “everyone”. But that’s not actually true, “everyone” is a pretty massive concept in marketing, because it includes all the good people, and frankly all the bad people too. If you’re marketing a quaint scenic village in the Swiss Alps, you don’t want stag parties from the UK arriving at your destination. Taking the time to appropriately target your prospective visitor is critical to ensuring the results you’re looking for from your destination marketing campaign. But equally important is to look at all the different segments that you’ll be targetting and ask the question: “Do these individual segments work well together?” 

3. Bad Timing

Much like comedy, marketing is all about timing. However, we’re not after hilarious results. The timing of campaigns can be extremely difficult to judge. There are standard awareness days, cultural holidays, religious holidays, political and sporting events that marketers can navigate around, but what about the one-off sudden events? Every campaign should have a contingency plan, bracing themselves for the “what-if” scenarios. Whilst it’s easy enough to pause digital campaigns, outdoor, events and other campaigns can be more challenging, which is why it’s critical to have these “what-if” plans in place. 

4. Bad Taste

Some campaigns are just…. Bad. The challenge that faces travel marketing is a unique one. A destination may be being promoted by an agency in their own country around the globe. The problem with this is that what is seen as funny in some countries is seen as downright distasteful in others. 

5. Cultural Insensitivity

Finally, cultural sensitivity. Much like ads that are in bad taste, cultural sensitivity is critical when trying to attract visitors from certain regions. The long white vales worn by Arab men may seem amusing to you, but in this region, they have both culturally and practical applications. Even small details such as the destain shown by some in this region when the soles of the feet are shown in an advert are something you couldn’t possibly be expected to know unless you’re a regional expert. That’s why we pride ourselves in our 60 years of regional expertise and know that when we deliver campaigns for our clients we are hitting all the right buttons and none of the wrong ones.

Gulf Reps

Gulf Reps is the leading travel and tourism representation company in the Middle East. With over 60 years of regional and industry experience. Gulf Reps has served clients on six continents delivering transformative results to everyone from hoteliers to tourism boards. Our mix of world-class marketing expertise, PR specialists, unparalleled connections and relationships and eclectic mix of marketing channels makes working with Gulf Reps the only sure way to drive Middle Eastern tourists to your destination.

Why Sales Calls Still Matter in the Digital Era

What are sales calls?

Sales calls take different forms. The stereotypical idea of the verbose Englishman talking rapidly to an unwitting prospective customer is dead. It certainly has no place in the travel representation industry. Sales calls are much more about relationships. Two entities, the travel representation company and the travel agent, who already have a close relationship, impart knowledge in a way that makes it easier for the latter to sell or persuade prospective travellers.

Despite the modern sales call being a two-way street, we as a travel representation company are very much pitching our clients to the travel agent. We also hear direct traveller feedback from the travel agents. This includes their destination preferences, their previous experience and their willingness to travel to a new destination. This information is fed back in a systematic way to our clients. Together we utilize this information to craft new, more effective campaigns for the future. 

How do sales calls work in the travel representation industry?

As a travel representation company we have a diverse number of sales calls that we undertake. In part, it depends on what the client wants, but also what is most effective for our target audience. The most common form takes place in our weekly visits. We go to travel agencies, sit with the teams, explore our client’s offerings, field any questions they may have and share content that they can use in their social or printed media. On occasion, our clients are able to come to the region. In that case, we set up a special tour of each of the major travel agencies, and take time to ensure that they are all given time directly with the client. This normally forms part of a wider mix of activities, particularly special events, which are a separate part of the marketing mix. Sometimes our clients need specific feedback on a specific topic. In these cases, we’ll use the phone and email to collect data and share that data directly with our clients.

Why are sales calls important?

The regional context is important here. In the Middle East, the travel agent is still the dominant point of sale for the travel industry. Yes, there’s an increasing number of people who book online, especially for business travel, but when it comes to the main family holidays, the travel agent still rules the roost. Now, with that in mind, it is also important to note that even those who book at travel agents often do significant amounts of research online before they go to the travel agent, which is why it’s so important for all of our clients to have a multi-layered approach to their marketing, ensuring that there’s a marketing touchpoint at every stage of the buying cycle. Ultimately, the travel agencies need to know what they are selling. They need to feel confident that the destination they are offering to their clients, many of whom will have a long-standing relationship with the travel agent, is to their satisfaction. Therefore, an agent cannot sell what he does not know. This is the importance of sales calls, to ensure that agents sell with confidence, as well as to help shift the market share of destinations away from our competitor destinations to our client’s destinations. 

What’s the wider mix of activities?

Sales calls alone aren’t effective at achieving these aims. They need to be part of a wider mix of content, experiences, and events that all work towards the objective of driving deep awareness of a destination. These other parts of the marketing mix are important too, and they include:

  1. Consumer direct marketing: Travellers are increasingly researching their destinations themselves, so it’s important to have access to a large number of your target market so clients can advertise to you. Fortunately, at Gulf Reps, we have a large platform of Arabic speaking international travellers to whom we can market our client’s offerings. 
  2. Events: Small boutique events in luxury hotels, or large trade shows. Whatever the event, for most of our partners in the industry, attendance is mandatory. We ensure that the time is best utilised by setting up the right meetings with the right people.
  3. Familiarization Trips: Agents who go on familiarization trips can talk with absolute confidence about the destination and are able to sell it significantly more effective. 
  4. Influencer testimonials: By their very nature influencers have a voice that can be utilized by our clients to deliver messages to prospective clients.
  5. Reviews: Reviews in English and Arabic on the main review sites are a really important part of the mix, especially for hoteliers.

In the end….

Sales calls are still an extremely important part of the sales and marketing mix in our industry. They serve as a bridge between clients and those selling their destinations or hotels. Whilst the digital revolution of the travel industry has shifted some of the research phases of the buying cycle online, in the Middle East the actual purchase is still most likely to occur at the travel agent. 

Gulf Reps

Gulf Reps is the leading travel and tourism representation company in the Middle East. With over 60 years of regional and industry experience. Gulf Reps has served clients on six continents delivering transformative results to everyone from hoteliers to tourism boards. Our mix of world-class marketing expertise, PR specialists, unparalleled connections and relationships and eclectic mix of marketing channels makes working with Gulf Reps the only sure way to drive Middle Eastern tourists to your destination.

The Top European Destinations for the Middle Eastern Traveler

Introduction

What are the top European Destinations for the Middle Eastern Traveler? Slowly, the world of travel and tourism starts to return to a semblance of normality. Holidays are something to be considered rather than feared. However, the destination selection criteria have changed somewhat. Gone are the arbitrary selections based purely on needs and wants, now travellers must consider the practicality of travel. Middle Eastern travellers remain the most sought after subset of international travellers due to their longer than average duration of stay and significantly higher average spend. So what are the top European destinations for Middle Eastern travellers as we enter into the winter period?

Selection Criteria For The Middle Eastern Traveler

The primary selection criteria for top European destinations for the Middle Eastern Traveler here is where an Emirate in the UAE, Saudi Arabia or Qatar has a travel corridor with each country or is on their respective green lists. A travel corridor is essentially a preferential air bridge where travellers to and from destinations needn’t quarantine on arrival or upon return.  

Germany & Austria

It may appear foolhardy to lump these 2 destinations together, but as they share such a huge land border that is easily crossed by car, if you’re visiting one you may as well visit both. Who knows what 2022 holds?! Austria is a picture-perfect, holiday postcard, hallmark moment photographers dream. With rolling hills, picturesque scenery, and traditional villages and hotels, Austria really does have a lot to offer those seeking solitude from the hustle and bustle of modern city life. Germany on the other hand has it all. From skiing to nightclubs, massive cities, to tiny villages, traditional to modern. Germany can rightly be considered as multiple destinations at once. This offers a unique opportunity to the Middle Eastern Traveller, who is used to having 3, 4 or even 5 holidays per year, Germany could potentially satisfy all of those destination needs in a single visit. 

Spain

Winter, Summer, Spring or Autumn, Spain remains an extraordinary tourism destination. Especially the Costa Del Sol which boasts some of the most beautiful beaches, hotels and restaurants on the entire continent. For Middle Eastern travellers in particular Spain is a home away from home. Hospitable, Muslim friendly, and with an almost endless array of things to do and see, expect Spain to be high on the list of must-visit places this winter for Middle Eastern Travellers. Those that are visiting should definitely consider The Puente Romano luxury 5-star hotel in Marbella, which is sure to wow any visitor.  

Italy

In the Winter Italy is a country of 2 halves. Mountainous, snowy and downright cold in the north with tremendous skiing facilities in the Dolomites and Aosta Valley. Then the warm, sumptuous, luxurious south with beautiful villages and architecture. In particular, Lecce and Naples are holidaymakers dreams at this time of year. 

Malta

For those who have never visited, Malta appears to be an entire island carved out of a single block of granite. Hilly villages with picturesque cottages sliding down towards the warm mediterranean sea, Malta is still a relatively untouched gem for the Middle Eastern Traveller. For the explorer, couple, shopper or family, Malta has an experience for everyone. 

Covid Precautions for the Middle Eastern Traveler

All destinations are undertaking covid precautions, some more strict than others. Critically for destinations looking to attract Middle Eastern tourist is to ensure that Covid precautions are unobtrusive and where necessary gender-segregated. All destinations require you to have a vaccine, and as the rules continue to change around which vaccines, which boosters and how long ago your vaccine was taken continue to change, be sure to check with your travel agent on the latest requirements before you travel. 

Gulf Reps

Gulf Reps is the leading travel and tourism representation company in the Middle East. With over 60 years of regional and industry experience. Gulf Reps has served clients on six continents delivering transformative results to everyone from hoteliers to tourism boards. Our mix of world-class marketing expertise, PR specialists, unparalleled connections and relationships and eclectic mix of marketing channels makes working with Gulf Reps the only sure way to drive Middle Eastern tourists to your destination.

What is a travel representation company?

We’re often asked what is a travel representation company? Travel representation companies function as an adjunction between travel agencies and destination(s), airlines and hotel boards driving up conversion rates and generating profitable sales. With a focus on b2b transactions in regional and global markets, they increase the physical and online exposure of travel and tourism operators through a number of means and strategies.

To name a few, travel representation agencies develop and implement marketing strategies that ensure maximum reach to the targeted audience via various marketing channels including digital marketing, e-newsletter, social media platforms and online campaigns. Travel representation companies also attend, organize and manage events that function as valuable links between industry key actors.

Travel representation establishes and fosters relationships with managing partners, oversee account management activities as well as business development, PR support and strategic planning. Additional activities include providing financial reports, KPI monthly reports, media reports and other ancillary documents.

By implementing these methods via adherence to best-practice and innovative ideas, travel representation agents connect key players in the industry with clients to ensure the quality of service and a satisfying experience.

What to look for when selecting a travel representation company?

Several factors come into play when partnering with a travel representation company. Achieving substantial reach and intensifying brand awareness is contingent on a comprehensive understanding of the product, strong knowledge of the market and accurate and effective segmentation.  

The right travel representation agent will act as the face of your company and speak for its interest and objectives while effectively communicating with the involved parties.

Travel representation needs to possess robust market intelligence as deep background and connections in order to build and implement functional strategies that can be studied and evaluated through action plans. 

Travel representation companies need to hold fast to a set of core values including transparency, self-drive and persistence.

Travel representation companies can be evaluated against a number of criteria:

  • Excellent communication skills
  • Speed to market
  • All-round market experience 
  • Good connections
  • Cost-effectiveness
  • Reputable work portfolio with good quality hotels and SMCs
  • Flexibility and simplicity 
  • Personalised services and adeptness in individualized strategies and boutique marketing 

What values does a travel representation company add to travel and tourism in the middle east?

The unprecedented thrive the middle east has witnessed during the last two years, partially due to covid-19, in various industrial sectors including travel and tourism placed the region as a second-best performer in travel and tourism showing an annual growth rate of 5.3% in 2019. This growth led to many prospects for representation companies.

Travel representation firms can leverage the emergent megacities, large population and the top-tier tourist service infrastructures to bring substantial value to the region exhibited in the growing awareness of the middle east as a sought travel destination and the increasing influx of tourists from key markets such as China and India.

Furthermore, travel representation agencies help expedite the recovery of the region and restore the pre-covid tourist spend in the middle east. 

Travel representation significantly contributed to renowned airlines like Emirates, Qatar Airways and Etihad Airways whereby ranking them on top of the world’s best-performing airlines list in terms of quality of service 

What can Gulf Reps add?

Gulf Reps is a leading and highly regarded travel representation company with far-reaching and extensive experience in the Gulf region and the middle east. Gulf Reps provides a state of the art portfolio of PR and consultancy services as well as strategic and result-driven marketing solutions tailored to deliver individual targets, exceptional outcomes that boost and enhance your presence in the region. Contact us on Tel: +971 (0)4 703 6333, F:+971 (0)4 316 6565, E: sammy@gulfreps.com for any inquiries.