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Back to agent with Dubai Expert
May 2017 2035

Dubai's Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism), has announced the launch of Dubai Expert, an innovative online educational game that has been created exclusively for travel agents.

This coincides with the launch of Dubai College of Tourism (DCT), an institution dedicated to training the next generation of tourism professionals and providing school leavers with an alternative option for further education, that bridges the gap between in-house training and a full bachelor’s degree. The Government backed vocational college will be accepting its first batch of students in September this year.

Created in collaboration with DCT and KTM Advance, a specialist in e-learning, Dubai Expert is a learning tool, which is a marked departure from traditional training programmes. It features an engaging interface that includes information on Dubai’s tourism attractions in an easily digestible format that will enable agents to promote the Emirate as the ideal holiday destination to their customers from around the world.

Issam Kazim, CEO of Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DCTCM), said: “Our partnerships with travel agents are critical to us as we look to expand our influence and reach across industry channels and stakeholders that influence tourists looking to visit Dubai. This also means that we need to keep developing new tools that allow us and our partners to highlight what makes Dubai a ‘must-visit’ destination. With the Dubai Expert platform, we have used technology innovation to transcend typical training programmes and create an experience that enhances their knowledge of Dubai, so they can build customised itineraries that will attract more visitors. Dubai Expert has been created to facilitate this process and is part of our continued endeavour to achieve our strategic goal of welcoming 20 million visitors by 2020.”

Dubai Expert operates as a turn-based card game, where participants will need to select the best cards – each with an attraction in the city – from an automatically generated deck, to create an ideal itinerary for a traveller. Various traveller profiles make up the 30 ‘missions’ of the game, with the best combination of activities earning higher scores. The platform also includes 25 videos from experts that serve as a guide of what to do in Dubai – including family entertainment, gastronomy, shopping, theme parks, culture and heritage amongst others.

Participants can become a Dubai Expert by completing 20 successful missions and watching all 25 expert videos, with a higher Dubai Expert level achieved by completing all 30 missions and answering all pop-up questions about the city. In order to maintain this status, players are required to return to the game every year and complete updated missions and watch newer expert videos.

Essa Bin Hadher, general manager, Dubai College of Tourism, added: “While we strive to engage more individuals with the city’s booming tourism industry, we also understand the importance of reaching out to global travel agents. From flights and accommodation to dining and experiences across the city, travel agents streamline the entire booking process for tourists – and, in turn, help increase the number of visitors to Dubai every year. We are excited to have assisted Dubai Tourism with the creation of ‘Dubai Expert’, to not only provide agents with a clearer glimpse of the city, but also to help them understand different audiences and create itineraries that best suit them.”

Along with building their knowledge of Dubai, travel agents can also enjoy benefits such as invites to various events in the city, as well as a ‘Dubai Expert Certificate’ and the use of the Dubai Expert logo. The tool will first be launched in English across multiple key markets and will then be translated into various languages including French, Mandarin, Russian, German, Italian, Bahasa, Korean, Japanese, Polish, Czech, and Spanish. There are also plans to create a global league table of Dubai Expert users, allowing agents from all over the world to compete against each other to achieve the highest score.

Meanwhile, after years of tough competition with Online Travel Agents (OTAs), traditional agencies are regaining popularity, it emerged at the recently concluded Arabian Travel Market 2017 Digital Transformation Summit, as travellers seek out bespoke service and specialist advice over discounted deals.

Traditional travel agencies have an opportunity to re-capture the market share previously lost to OTAs by converging operations to digital and social media platforms. Benjo Van Laar Hoven, chief executive officer, Prizm, advised traditional agents to meet their clients online and on social media in order to safeguard business, as regional Internet connectivity and social media use continues to soar.

“This part of the world has the highest number of travel agencies per capita but 50 per cent of them are at risk of losing their business within five years if they do not innovate their business model. To truly achieve this, they’ll need to address the challenges in digital transformation and meet their target audience on their preferred platform. Online is no longer a different sector of the industry, but can become a platform for both traditional advisory and self-booking models to co-exist on.”

Travel agencies across the world have lost significant revenue streams over the last decade due to the emergence and dominance of OTAs. However, according to data published in January 2017 Middle East internet penetration is up 15 per cent year-on-year, with the regional total rapidly approaching 150 million connections; the highest growth rate in the world currently.

Coupled with world-leading social media use, this presents multiple opportunities for traditional travel agents to move into the digital space, a move which will regain their market share and also bring new business opportunities.    

 


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