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Behind the curtain of… destination marketing

Behind the curtain of… destination marketing

Gulf Business speaks to Insignia Worldwide founder and CEO Gaurav Sinha

Has destination marketing picked up in the Middle East?

Destination marketing is very different from traditional advertising campaigns for fast-moving consumer goods brands. When you are marketing destination brands you need to consider multiple complexities across different feeder markets, segments, seasonalities and so forth. With travel and tourism playing a significant role in the growth of national and regional gross domestic product, we are also noticing vibrant regional cities become dominant global gateways.

By the same note, the Middle East region continues to grow as an important feeder market for tourism across Europe and Asia, and this means a lot of destinations are promoting themselves in the region to maintain relevance and increase inbound tourism.

What are the main trends within the industry regionally?

This is a wonderfully disruptive period for hospitality as new lifestyle hotels are changing the narrative of traditional luxury. There is a huge shift towards ‘native mobile’ communication. We will also need new designs with eco-embedded philosophy, wireless charging and modular transformative spaces. I even predict that we will see the fundamentals of hotel management agreements being challenged in the next five years.

How big a role does social media play?

When it comes to luxury brands, I think social media should be your eyes and ears and not always your mouth. Brands can learn a lot from social media – what is important and of value to customers, what is popular, trending and shared based on segments, markets and so forth.

I think progressive organisations should maintain very good social media dashboards that offer insight and analysis.

What are the main challenges?

There is a degree of fragmentation when it comes to industry forums that are regionally focused as everyone in the Middle East has a keyhole perspective on many broad issues – competing brands or cities do not meet on regional initiatives and I would like to see this change.

Do you anticipate strong future growth?

I am an eternal optimist but I also think we have a degree of unpredictability to manage in the foreseeable future.

A weak Russian rouble impacts the nearby countries, China’s economic volatility and anti-corruption drive has reduced the number of outbound travellers on luxury breaks and the European, and Greek, dramas continue. So hoteliers will need to be even smarter in how they promote their destinations.

India and Africa will grow as feeder markets and we will continue to see growth in the segment.

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