‘One Summer Isn’t Enough’ to position Abu Dhabi as a year-round destination

Interview with Abdulla Yousuf, Director Travel Trade & Markets Development, DCT, Abu Dhabi.
/ Dubai
‘One Summer Isn’t Enough’ to position Abu Dhabi as a year-round destination

Knowing the persona of Ranveer, we collaborated with him to promote Abu Dhabi with One Summer Isn’t Enough campaign in the India market

Keen to emerge as an all-round destination, Abu Dhabi has launched a host of multi-faceted campaigns to cater to the various market segments in the Indian market. Hosting a high-visibility cinema awards event like IIFA for two years simultaneously has allowed it to penetrate into the more intricate Tier II and Tier III markets in India, says Abdulla Yousuf, Director Travel Trade & Markets Development, DCT, Abu Dhabi.
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Abdulla Yousuf

What are you doing in India for the summer market?

I think you have heard of our new summer campaign, which is a campaign that we built up on the brand campaign, which we launched last year. So this year we came up with a summer campaign, One Summer Isn’t Enough, targetting 12 markets, with India being one of the key markets where we are promoting whatever that we can offer throughout the summer.

The idea here is that Abu Dhabi is a year-round destination. Whenever you come to Abu Dhabi, winter, summer peak season, off-season, anytime that you come to the destination, there is something for you to do. We had five concerts in May and June and within days the five of them were sold out. So that shows you that there are so many people who come to Abu Dhabi for whatever it has to offer for families or couples, for solos, be it the events scenario that we have, be it the gastronomy, family offerings or the cultural sites.

Going back again to the brand campaign, when we were in the brand campaign, we were like, come experience Abu Dhabi at your own pace. And the idea was no matter what, what interests you in a destination, there’s something for you to do in Abu Dhabi. But even better now, with the summer campaign, not only can you come and experience it, but it’s being even combined with a product that caters also to a different price segment. So we launched with the summer campaign four summer offerings, first being the Summer Pass, which gives you a discount to attractions, to restaurants, to different things to do in Abu Dhabi.

The Kids Go Free offer, where any kids below the age of 12 between May 1 to the end of September, can have free access to attractions and also a free stay. For couples, it is Stay More, Pay Less, so you can come to Abu Dhabi, stay for three nights, get the fourth night for free. Stay for four nights to get the fifth night for free, and so on. So we tried to combine it with stay more, pay less, so people can see the value that they can get if they come to Abu Dhabi. And the last product and experience that is still continuing is the bus ‘Experience Abu Dhabi’ shuttle service that we have, which has 19 stops in Abu Dhabi. It features free complimentary service connecting hotels, attractions, malls in the city center, in Yas Island as well as Saadiyat.

All of this is a project that we created to help agents promote Abu Dhabi. Earlier this year we did a road show in Chennai, Ahmedabad and Kolkata to share with the agents these offerings that we curated for the summer and now ATM is the time where we launch our summer campaign targeting B2C audience through a 360° approach. Social media influencers, celebrities, PR events, you name it, all that is combined under one campaign, One Summer Isn’t Enough.

How is that campaign being rolled out in India?

Recently, we announced our partnership with Ranveer Singh. It is a two-year partnership, where we will work together. And we are working not only on the summer campaign, but there is also a future plan in the next two years to collaborate with Ranveer, knowing that Ranveer today could be a different personae and being Ranveer, could be an entrepreneur, could be the family guy, could be the actor, could be a friend as well. So knowing the persona of Ranveer, we collaborated with him to promote Abu Dhabi with One Summer Isn’t Enough campaign in the India market. I think we are doing pretty much well on not only social media engagement, but also for the PR that is coming and is associated with this new campaign.

This year we came up with a summer campaign, One Summer Isn’t Enough, targetting 12 markets

How have been the numbers from India so far?

So in Q1 this year, compared to last year, there is a growth of 96 pc year on year. Comparing to 2019 where, competitively, we see it as a point of reference that India has been growing by 46 pc. I think it is due to the connectivity that we see between the India market and Abu Dhabi in addition to the brand campaign that we launched last year combined with what we are doing on trade and all other channels have positioned Abu Dhabi as a destination of choice in India. And the numbers are proof of that.

Is Abu Dhabi promoting itself as a film location too? If so, what are you doing to promote it?

We work very closely with the Abu Dhabi Film Commission that has taken the lead in India and any other market. However, we work very closely with them and we have a partnership with the Commission. So whenever there are any leads and any shooting in the destination, they consult us in terms of what it is that are the sites or attractions Abu Dhabi wants to promote to be part of any upcoming movie. So that is a mandate of the Abu Dhabi Film Commission, as to what sites, attractions to promote, locations for shooting, then they also have an incentive programme in place to also attract the production house to come in and consider Abu Dhabi as a site for their future.

What are your expectations from IIFA 2023?

From a trade perspective, we want to give the Indian travel trade exposure to such an amazing event. It is the Oscars of Bollywood, so we don’t want to miss out the opportunity of being under the same roof. The exposure that Abu Dhabi gets as a destination, from IIFA, first of all, as an event destination, but then as an event and destination where it is associated with India and Bollywood and the celebrities and then helping us position ourselves in the Indian market.

This gives us a lot of coverage across the Tier II  and Tier III markets in India, reaching some very small towns in India which we necessarily might not have reached. That is a real success factor for us, a lot of growth comes from these cities which IIFA really helps us flourish.

If I were to put myself in the shoes of a consumer, if it is the first year for IIFA, you will be like oh nice, okay cool. But then if you bring it again for the second time, you say, oh, there seems to be a big deal about Abu Dhabi and find out what is happening and why is it that, you know, all these celebrities and IIFA decide to go back to Abu Dhabi for a second year in a row.

It was also well within the summer campaign so during the time where we partner with Ranveer also comes at the right time. I think we are ticking multiple boxes, checking multiple boxes where the Indian travellers start wondering, you know, let me go and explore whatever that Abu Dhabi has to offer, especially for those who haven’t been here. But seeing how the market is performing in terms of the growth compared to 2019 and 2022, I am very optimistic that India will lead. It is leading and will continue to lead the summer figures for Abu Dhabi.

What are the other aspects of Abu Dhabi that you are promoting?

I do want to mention that in the last few weeks we also launched the Al Ain campaign. I have been proactively talking about it and when I was at ITB in Berlin, we launched ‘Experience Abu Dhabi Al Ain’, positioning it as a living oasis where we welcome tourists to come and experience the heritage and the history of Al Ain. It is a history that goes back to more than 1,000 years. It is also the city where the founder of UAE was born. There are a lot of heritage sites in Al Ain, so for us, it was a perfect time to since we have a new brand campaign to create a version of it which is dedicated to it.

For Indians who come to Abu Dhabi, for them with what an Al Ain can offer, it attracts same day visitors. This is how we see India playing a role in this strategy of Al Ain where we are focusing on same day visit but with a longer-term vision of having people to stay in Al Ain for a night or two.

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