ATM06: still serving the travel industry?

Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2006 may well have achieved a trade visitor record, with 12,067 industry professionals attending the event, but did it serve its purpose? While this year’s show was the biggest in ATM’s 13-year history, not everyone was impressed by the turnout. A large number of real estate firms took centre stage in the Middle East pavilion, leading to smaller exhibitors questioning the relevance of these participants.

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By  Sarah Campbell Published  May 20, 2006

|~||~||~|Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2006 may well have achieved a trade visitor record, with 12,067 industry professionals attending the event, but did it serve its purpose? While this year’s show was the biggest in ATM’s 13-year history, not everyone was impressed by the turnout. A large number of real estate firms took centre stage in the Middle East pavilion, leading to smaller exhibitors questioning the relevance of these participants. Trying to get round the huge stands caused congestion at the main walkways, while the stands themselves remained fairly quite. Hotel and car hire companies situated in the Global Village in Hall 1 were unhappy with their positioning, as footfall to this part of the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) was minimal, compared to other areas of the exhibition hall. One regional hotel chain, which had opted for a Global Village stand in order to be seen amongst its international peers, was so disappointed with visitor numbers to the stand that its senior management is considering moving back to the Middle East halls for next year’s event. Overall, the event proved more Dubai-centric than ever, and even show organiser, Reed Travel Exhibitions, admitted that the majority of exhibitors at ATM 2006 were Dubai based. In the press lounge, Dubai topped the bill for most of the announcements made at the show, as superlatives such as ‘largest’, ‘tallest’ and ‘most luxurious’ were bandied about, although very few of the ‘new’ announcements were new at all. Logistics was also a nightmare, as getting to and from the DWTC proved a nightmare yet again. Taxis were in short supply, parking proved difficult, and shuttle buses provided by hotels were a little hit and miss. Saying that, the service at The Fairmont Hotel, located opposite the DWTC, and just a short walk over the covered bridge on Sheikh Zayed Road, proved more than spot on. By Day Two, exhibitors had figured out that the short, albeit hot, walk over to The Fairmont greatly increased their chances of getting a taxi home. The valet team outside the hotel became inundated with taxi requests, the majority of which were not from guests at the hotel. However, the service and smiles never wavered. The team even went beyond the call of duty, as bottles of cold water and towels were brought out to refresh exhibition-weary taxi hunters. For many of us, we are heading back to the DWTC again this month, as The Hotel Show takes place from June 4-6. While the show will probably not attract the numbers of ATM, exhibitors and visitors had better begin planning their escape routes early. Car pool where possible. DWTC is undergoing an expansion, with plans to add three more halls, which is great news for exhibitions like ATM, which were limited by space this year. However, I hope that part of this expansion will also include enough provisions for parking and taxis. Perhaps DWTC should take a leaf from The Fairmont’s service book, and make sure that its service to exhibitors and visitors extends beyond the exhibition halls and out to the taxi rank and car park. Once again, the five-star hotel industry proves that it is the little things that make the difference when providing good service.||**||

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