1.   You recently launched your Middle East office – how have you found the level of enquiries from the travel and tourism industry compared to other industries, when it comes to using Twitter as a platform?

Twitter has always been a pillar of the travel and tourism sector. A good number of our partners had already been very active even before we set up the office here in Dubai. All the major regional carriers are using Twitter to promote their good content, and also to provide customer service, which is a trend we only expect to move upwards.

  1.   What advice do you have for digital marketing specialists in the travel and tourism industry to make the most of Twitter?

Define what the platform means to you. Twitter can play a very strong role in both your upper and lower funnel activities, so define your objectives clearly, and set the KPIs to measure success depending on these objectives. If your main goal is to raise awareness, develop a content strategy accordingly, and set KPIs around engagement and reach. If your goal is to drive leads and enquiries, ensure that you have the right measurement tools in place, and focus on optimization and campaign management.

  1.   Which countries in the GCC region are using Twitter the most and what are the likely reasons for this?

The platform usage of course depends on the number of users by country, and that comes as a factor of population, Internet penetration, and of course mobile penetration, considering that Twitter is a mobile first platform. Having said that, Twitter allows brands to reach audiences beyond borders, and across the user travel journey, which is a critical for brands in this sector.

  1.   Do you have any particular case studies of Twitter being used to drive revenue for players in this industry?

Perhaps one to highlight is Hyatt which wanted to raise brand awareness in France while showing how attentively Hyatt listens to it guests. As a solution, they created a virtual concierge, introduced him through a Promoted Account, encouraged excitement and interest with a Promoted Trend and amplified the conversation with Promoted Tweets. The results generated 15.4M Promoted Trend impressions, 10% + peak engagement rate for Promoted Tweets and +72% brand mentions month on month. There are several more case studies at:

  1.   With tourism dominating the UAE landscape, what are your social media predictions for this industry?

Social media transcends traditional advertising forms when it comes to word-of-mouth, and relevance; people tend to trust the inputs and opinions of people they know or follow as opposed to brand opinions. That reliance grows as people continue to share their stories and content about destinations and experience.

The main trend we are seeing is the ever increasing consumption of visual and rich content in the decision-making process. We are seeing a similar trend in the innovations brought forward by platforms in this field. On Twitter, brands are using polls to better understand customer preferences, controllable GIFs to help add a dimension of interactivity, and conversational videos to query users on their preferences.

  1.   You will be part of the panel discussion at this year’s Arabian Travel Market, which has the theme of mid-market travel.  What talking points are you expecting to focus on and do you think the mid-market tier have embraced platforms such as Twitter compared to their more luxurious counterparts?

The session overall talks about the presence of social media throughout the user travel journey, and the type of content that the travel audience on Twitter wants to see. These are concepts that hold true for any travel brand, and especially mid-market travel. The panel discussion will focus primarily on Dubai Tourism’s approach on Twitter and social media, and how it’s being used to create inspiration, drive consideration, promoting travel to Dubai, and celebrate Dubai experiences.

To learn more, Ahmad Absi will be talking about Twitter and the travel and tourism industry on Monday 25th April at 15:50 in the travel tech theatre at Arabian Travel Market.

Karen Osman
Karen Osman
Originally from England, Karen has lived the ex-pat life for the last 15 years across Asia, Europe and the Middle East. After completing a B.A. in Linguistics and English Language at the University of Durham, a two year period teaching in Tokyo was the start of a career that combined her two great loves; travel and the English language. Moving to Dubai in 2004, Karen engaged in a sales, marketing and public relations role for a luxury hospitality company. It was a great opportunity to develop communication for luxury brands, gaining experience in writing and adapting copy for both off-line and on-line channels. After identifying a gap in the market for specialised writing services for the travel, tourism and hospitality sector, Karen set up Travel Ink in 2011, steadily building the business to include some of the most high-profile hotels, airlines and tourism establishments in the region. In addition to her role as Managing Director, Karen is also the Travel and Tourism Chair Person for the British Business Group and a committee member of Business Network International.

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