What is Destination Representation

Destination representation. The phrase may seem odd to you, and previous attempts to understand the concept may have gone awry. But in actuality, the idea is quite simple and rather fascinating. Read on as we discuss destination representation (or travel representation) and specifically what we do here at Gulf Reps.

What is Destination Representation?

Destination representation is the activity of stimulating the demand for bookings to a certain destination. An organization that is well connected in the travel industry – the travel representative, will offer this service to ideally, a country’s or a city’s tourism board. The travel organization agrees to direct a certain traveler segment to that region or destination. In that sense, the organization becomes the representative of that area.

A real-life example is Gulf Reps (a Middle-East based organization) forming a partnership with the Azerbaijan Tourism Board and embarking on campaigns that aim to direct Arab travelers (a highly sought after traveler segment) to book their next vacation in Azerbaijan. How is it done you ask? Here are several ways:

Influencer Marketing 

We work with the best handpicked Arab travel influencers who masterfully sway their followers to engage with our clients’ services and offers. The travel influencer will travel to our clients’ destination and review it for their followers through pictures, videos, and writing. The number of visits generated from these influencers’ activities can be tracked by the way of the customer discount codes our clients advertise through the influencers channels.

This technique is especially useful as the benefits of a travel influencer can be felt long after the review. Moreover, if the influencer’s experience with a destination was highly favourable they are known to voluntarily spread good word of mouth about the service. Travel influencers are trusted subject matter experts and are usually approached for advice by travelers. So it’s a great idea to be in their good books.

Sales Calls, Familiarization Trips, and Roadshows

The phrase “sales-calls” may be a little misleading because in actuality we conduct actual visits as opposed to simple phone calls. At Gulf Reps, we pitch our clients to travel agencies in the Middle East. These agents then sell trips to their Arab customer base directing them to our clients’ destinations. At times it’s possible for us to arrange for the agents in the Middle East to engage in a familiarization trip in our clients’ destination, while other times client representatives visit us in the Middle East. When that happens, we arrange special networking events and meetings for them with local agents. The bilateral trade relationships that emerge out of these meetings are a force to be reckoned with.

Digital Media and Destination Representation

Even though in the Middle East, travel research and buying phases occur primarily through physical means such as travel agencies, there is still a good fight to be fought online. Social media, websites, SEO (Search Engine Optimization), and e-letters can all be used as a means to build awareness of your brand, generate leads, and drive conversions. 

Social Media

Well connected destination representation companies usually have travel company affiliates who enjoy large followerships. A well-placed post — or many, on these companies social media accounts can help in shaping trends and even influencing travel zeitgeists. Furthermore, as the average consumer whether (Arab or non-Arab) is glued to their device’s screen for a large portion of the day, online platforms never seem to miss. We all know how quickly things can catch on online, and it would be sorrowful if such an opportunity is not captured.

Websites and SEO

Once again, with affiliate travel company websites, the traffic generated by these websites can be translated to attention guided towards content about our clients’ destination. This is critical in building awareness for your destination among travellers, and informing and educating them about your destination at the travelers research stage of the buyer’s journey. Further to that, websites are also a great avenue for answering frequently asked questions.

E-Letters

Email campaigns and e-letters are best used to target a certain segment that may be harder to reach through both of the aforementioned channels. Here, a specific communication style can be employed to build rapport with the target audience more appropriately.

Destination Representation at Gulf Reps

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)4 316 6333, F:+971 (0)4 316 6565, E: sammy@gulfreps.com for any inquiries.  

In Focus: Nour Aridi – 5 Ways To Market Your Destination Effectively

A trailblazer and a woman many young females in the industry aspire to be like and badger for advice, Nour Aridi is our very own Chief Operating Officer Born an Arab but educated and raised in Europe, Nour is strategically equipped to deliver exceptional performances to our clients. Read on for some inspirational words from the young female entrepreneur and to find out what she has to say to young females and those wanting to market a destination.

Nour Aridi – Female Entrepreneur and Chief Operating Officer

Although I was born and raised in the suburbs of Paris, I am of Lebanese descent. I spent my entire childhood in Paris and my stay extended well into my early career where I started working for Société Générale. Société Générale is a financial service provider, and working there was how I got the ball rolling. My heart, however, was not in it. I was passionate about travel, and my unquenchable thirst to learn about different cultures, explore different regions, and understand more about the world around me brought me to Dubai in 2008. Since then, I have been working in the field of destination marketing. First starting as an employee, I took a brave leap in 2016 and started my own business Tiri Consultancy. At long last, my dream was manifesting. It amuses me when people refer to me as a female entrepreneur today because, in actuality, I’m just a person who was able to make a job out of her passion. I think I am the luckiest person in the world to be able to do that.

One thing that became abundantly clear to me very early on in Tiri Consultancy was that in order to succeed I had to work harder, be more creative and make the needle move myself. I am a solution provider and I challenge myself every single day to be better. But I could not have achieved what I have achieved today without working at Gulf Reps. I strongly believe that they have the perfect business model for this particular industry, and I am proud that Tiri Consultancy enjoys a strategic partnership with them. They have helped me develop as a business leader, as well as equipped me with a platform to utilize my creative energy, and provided me with the necessary push to deliver the highest standards. Without their trust, support, and their understanding of my ambitions and desires, I would have had a much more difficult challenge ahead of me. For that, I am highly grateful to the management partners team. Gulf Reps is truly inspirational, and I am learning new things there every day, all the while being able to maintain my independence through Tiri Consultancy.

To the Aspiring Female Entrepreneur:

My advice to all the youth is — don’t aspire to be like your role model, aspire to be a better you. I am often asked about my female role models and heroes and whilst I am truly thankful for those female leaders who have challenged the status quo in generations preceding mines — allowing me to aspire to follow my dreams, I have to admit that I don’t look at other people’s success and dreams in order to mimic them. I look at myself, I reflect upon my own performance, and I challenge myself every day to be better than I was yesterday.

So how does all of this passion and drive reflect on what I offer our clients? To answer that, here are the top five pieces of advice that I live by, and I encourage all young female entrepreneurs in travel and hospitality and everyone wishing to attract high spending Arab travellers, to do the same. 

1              Surround Yourself with Successful People

There are so many idiosyncrasies in the Arab traveller market and every major destination, hotel and tourism attraction in the world is targeting these high spending guests. Going it alone is the equivalent of entering a boxing ring without any training. Either employ somebody to be in the market full-time and build the necessary relationships required to drive this market or use a reputable representation company. I assure you; it will be money well invested.

2              Be Creative

Don’t simply do the same thing everybody else is engaged in. You need to stand out from the crowd and the noise. Use experts in the market, who know what your competitors have been doing. Then through these experts, do something better, something more memorable and something that will inspire your target guests to visit you.

3              Engage in Active Learning

As a representation company, we believe we have reached the ultimate success when a client decides to open their own office in the region. This means that we have built sufficient business for them to recognise returns from this level of investment. This will only happen if the client takes the time to learn about the market and uses this knowledge to succeed without the support of representation.

4              Listen to the Experts

Many of our clients assume that they can apply a singular approach across different markets. We run a representation business and have become experts in our field, we know our market and we know what will inspire Middle Eastern travellers. Listen to us and you will not be disappointed. In my experience, the clients who do not succeed in this market are those who come with a predefined plan of action and then stubbornly ignore feedback.

5              Adapt to the Market

This is a rapidly evolving, last-minute market. Do not expect to put a plan together at the beginning of the year and stick to it rigidly. The clients that are flexible, able to quickly adapt and understand that things change quickly, are the ones who succeed. The client whose processes are steeped in bureaucracy, and are slow to make decisions will struggle to adapt and ergo struggle to succeed in this market.

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)4 316 6333 or write to us at sammy@gulfreps.com