by Tony Fields, General Manager at TTG MENA
1) How important is the role of a travel trade media publication in the motivation of the tourism industry?
The role of travel trade media is highly significant when it comer to motivating and supporting the progression of the industry. I would say this is particularly the case in the MENA region, where travel trade professionals still utilise and trust such platforms to nourish their own business – providing them with news, knowledge, tools, connections and relevant information, publications such as TTGMENA can help to empower them to grow their own business. Print and digital publications / portal such as TTG MENA and ttgmena.com respectively are seen as solid, reputable and trustworthy platforms that can keep the trade professionals up to date with what is happening in the industry both regionally and on the international scene.
2) Is there a difference in function between print and digital platforms? Has the MENA region’s tourism industry fully adapted to the digital advances?
There is a huge difference between the functions of a print and a digital platform. One is not simply a carbon copy of the other, which is a common misconception. While print remains very strong in this region, there has been a noticeable shift towards the digital world. We ourselves have developed at an unprecedented rate in terms of our digital products due to this shift in demand, and have been able to stay one step ahead of the game. Through this experience, we have seen how powerful the digital platforms can be – they have far more flexibility and a much wider reach. There is so much scope as well for diversity in terms of content. In fact, it’s almost become a hybrid, whereby the B2B content is moulding well into a B2C style and flair. Naturally, the news on our digital platforms is also shared a lot further. I think the region is adapting to this digital revolutions, even though print is still very important. They still trust something that they can see and feel and touch – it still stands that something written in print holds much more gravitas. However, certain digital platforms, such as the popular social media channels have become strong marketing platforms for many and are used extensively. In times of crisis, some turned to these channels and, perhaps by default, discovered the power and potential the hold. I think MENA is recognising the influential capabilities of such digital platforms but rather than using them wildly and carelessly, they are more thoughtful about how they use them. Their use is targeted, it’s relevant, it’s considered. And this is where they will reap the maximum benefits.
Have you noticed an increase of interest in Latin America from the MENA region?
Most definitely. This has been triggered by a swathe of news routes and increased flight frequencies especially from the GCC carries. I would suggest that an increase in interest is predominantly from the corporate sector – but with the pattern of travel habits from this region, you can be relatively certain that the leisure segment will follow. Brazil and Argentina are probably the two most stand out destinations and are leading the way, but with cleaver marketing and educational initiatives, the other destinations such as Chile and Peru will soon spark a rise in the interest too. However, one issue that seems to be at the fore is that many MENA families prefer a non-stop flight – no matter the length – with multi-connections not really in favour. So this needs to be taken into account.