Issam Kazim is the CEO of Dubai Tourism.
The 8th edition of the Arab Social Media Forum – an event by Mangusteen – takes off on September 22, 2021, for a full day at the V Hotel Dubai, Curio Collection by Hilton.
On this occasion, Communicate features the event's speakers. Issam Kazim, CEO of Dubai Tourism, will participate in the panel on "Innovation in Government and Medical Entities."
Technological progress is accelerating both public and private entities' digital transformation. How important is it to embrace this transformation and innovation in general?
We strongly believe that innovation is a key driver of development across the UAE and this is clearly visible across sectors. Our visionary leadership’s focus and commitment to technological progress has been internationally recognized as the country was ranked 1st regionally in the 2020 Global Innovation Index, an honor that was bestowed on the UAE for the 5th consecutive year. Today, the global pandemic has further galvanized the importance of embracing innovation and digital transformation across all public and private sectors, including the tourism industry.
What challenges do government entities face adopting and driving innovation and what solutions do you offer to these challenges?
In a highly competitive industry, Dubai Tourism sees challenges as opportunities, as it continues to lead the way in driving the Dubai Government’s innovation agenda, anticipating future needs, and adopting new solutions. Innovation is a big part of the work culture here at Dubai Tourism and all our employees are encouraged to identify and develop new ideas and approaches with the goal of further enhancing the quality of our services and the experience of both our stakeholders and visitors. In fact, all projects developed by work streams at Dubai Tourism are underpinned by our commitment to innovation.
Dubai is very much at the forefront of tech adoption and innovation. What are the main trends that you observe in Dubai's tourism industry specifically?
In line with the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to position Dubai as a global city at the forefront of innovation and technology, Dubai Tourism has rolled out innovative initiatives, trends, and technologies to raise the bar within the industry. These include integrated mobile apps, the use of immersive gamification, creating unique pathways for startups, and more. As we make good use of emerging technologies to optimize the travellers’ journey, the longstanding collaboration between the public and private sectors in Dubai has served as a major catalyst for innovation across the travel, tourism, and hospitality sectors. The global challenge has also spurred Dubai Tourism to strategically invest in and collaborate with key partners to drive innovation to support the resurgence in international travel and tourism. This is evident in the launch of our Intelak Hub, the region’s only startup platform dedicated to the travel, tourism, and aviation sectors with the aim of providing tourists with a transformative travel experience. These initiatives, along with tourism-related infrastructure that is coming on stream at a rapid rate, will immensely contribute towards achieving Dubai’s strategic goal of becoming the best city in the world to live in, work and visit.
Our Dubai College of Tourism plays a significant role in using and leveraging technology to enhance the overall visitor experience. The College’s online training platform Dubai Way is aimed at ensuring that people employed in tourist-facing roles impart standardized information and instructions and provide exceptional guest relations and customer service at tourist touchpoints across the emirate. To ensure the continued success of the travel trade sector, the College has also launched the Dubai Expert, an online program designed to expand the knowledge of the destination among travel agents and tour operators.
We also developed the Dubai Calendar, which has a mobile application and website featuring all events and activities across the city, providing users with a quick and convenient way of discovering and comparing the must-attend events without having to use multiple platforms. Tickets can be purchased quickly and securely through the Dubai Calendar app’s purchasing platform.
How have Dubai's tourism industry and DCTCM activated technology to weather the pandemic?
Dubai Tourism has been at the forefront of innovative, data-driven digital marketing communications even before the onset of the global pandemic. We have continuously launched campaigns and initiatives designed to ensure that the city remains the first-choice destination for international travellers. This certainly is a period for everyone to test their imagination and push their creativity to the hilt. When we started navigating the challenges of COVID-19 in early 2020, we accelerated the use of digital platforms and remote campaigns to position Dubai as a safe destination for global travellers and sustain its international appeal, presenting the city as the perfect holiday getaway for tourists when it is safe for them to travel and helping audiences experience Dubai from a distance.
Dubai Tourism took the crucial step of placing Dubai front and top of mind among global travellers amid the pandemic by launching a series of digital activations including #TillWeMeetAgain, #ReadyWhenYouAre, and #LiveYourStory across social media and digital platforms, based on feedback, data and special research focusing on our key markets.
We also partnered with global technology and Internet leaders and digital platforms like Microsoft, Google, and Snapchat to raise destination awareness in a creative way.
From hosting hundreds of webinars uniting travel agents, tour operators, and MICE travel planners from around the world, to bringing live entertainment straight to the living rooms of Dubai’s residents through Dubai Calendar’s ‘Live from Dubai’ event series, we had an opportunity to think outside the box and reimagine the ways in which we could reach our audiences.
Another instance in which we activated technology to pivot during the pandemic was during the Dubai Fitness Challenge in 2020. We championed virtual fitness classes and guided residents on ways of keeping fit even at home, encouraging them to visit the event’s online hub to access a curation of videos, articles, and podcasts related to fitness, wellness, and nutrition.
Communication is a key component of efficient tourism strategies. What are the main elements of DCTCM's communication strategy and how do you use tech to communicate?
A key goal of our communications strategy is to support domestic and global stakeholders and partners so everyone in the industry is aligned with the latest initiatives and campaigns and is able to leverage them to boost the performance of their respective establishments and work in unison towards showcasing Dubai as a ‘must-visit’ destination.
With the growing presence of technology in the travel lifecycle, and with increasing demand for unique travel offerings and bespoke customer-centric experiences, we know it is imperative to stay abreast of the consumers’ rapidly evolving needs by embracing data, analytics, and disruptive innovation to further raise awareness of the destination, its diversity of offerings and experiences.
Over the pandemic period, we have relied heavily on our network of offices and over 3,000 partners worldwide to highlight these offerings, especially through 360 campaigns. A recent example of such an integrated innovative approach is the global campaign 'Dubai Presents,' featuring Hollywood stars Jessica Alba and Zac Efron. The campaign, which was launched in August, will see more than 2,000 assets released in 27 countries across 16 languages via cinema, print, broadcast, out-of-home, digital, and social media channels. Following the launch of the first two cinematic trailers, Spy Action and RomCom, the campaign generated over 200 million views. The third trailer in the Dubai Presents series, Buddy Comedy, was released in early September
Key platforms that we use to support our marketing efforts globally include Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter. We leverage Snapchat and Tik Tok regionally, and even utilize dedicated WeChat and Weibo platforms to reach our target audiences in China. We have a vast and ardent social media fan base - we currently have 22 million+ followers on Facebook, 2.8 million followers on Instagram, 600,000 followers on Twitter and 383,000 subscribers on YouTube. Additionally, complementing our online, social, and digital media platforms is the region’s most advanced destination website, Visit Dubai, a content-rich ecosystem that sits at the heart of our Internet strategy. Wherever possible, we link Dubai Tourism’s social media channels to Visit Dubai, so readers can explore to get details about gastronomy, events, entertainment, shopping, attractions, and much more.
To attend the Arab Social Media Forum, register here.