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Online interaction is key to develop Middle East tourism industry

Companies in Middle East need to have more exclusive online offers

Gulf News

Dubai: Tourism companies doing business online in the Middle East need to have more exclusive offers on their Facebook pages, according to digital marketing experts at the GCC e-tourism development conference on Tuesday.

The experts said companies need to focus on strategies to communicate with consumers, rather than just focusing on using all the online platforms.

Facebook is the most popular social media site globally among the 77 per cent of users that use social media sites for online registrations, according to Akvile Pareigyte, Digital Marketing Director at DM3.

More local companies are using online platforms, but they are “not using technology to get value added services,” Dr. Usman Zafar, Board Advisor of ]init[ Services for the e-Society said.

The experts said that creating content that sparks consumer interaction should be every company’s priority. Zafar said companies should offer content that is exclusive to their Facebook pages so that consumers can gravitate to their pages. For instance, consumers should be able to buy airfare tickets on companies’ Facebook pages.

Pareigyte said companies should also create visual engagement to get consumers to interact with the brand. For instance, websites can have infographics, which are visual representations of data that, according to Pareigyte, consumers tend to share with others. She added that creating good content is not enough as brands need to focus on distribution strategies to gain more traffic to their sites. For instance, creating a video with creative content will not attract traffic unless it has been positioned to reach consumers.

Some companies are seeing positive results from their online strategies. According to Azza Al Nuaimi, Director of Tourism and Marketing at Ajman Tourism Development Department, the organisation had a successful Twitter campaign for National day that attracted over 4,000 participants. They attempted to set a Guinness World record by getting over 4,000 people to hold lanterns. Although they did not set the record, due to some of the lanterns getting broken, they had reached the target number of participants.

Pareigyte also said that companies need to “tailor strategies to suit certain markets.” As the majority of residents in the UAE are expats, companies need to create bilingual sites, she added.

According to statistics provided by ArabNet, there are 72 million internet users in Mena.