By Wellah Ellis, Sales Manager, Arabian Travel Market (ATM)
Arabian Travel Market is all about connecting and connections, and my role as sales manager is to connect with our exhibitors, to bring the different verticals together under one roof for what is the largest annual regional showcase of its kind.
This is my eighth ATM event and, from my behind-the-scenes perspective, it’s rather like opening the box on a giant jigsaw. Working on the show is pretty much a 365-day affair. Throughout the pre-event run-up campaign we conduct regular internal brainstorming sessions between the sales, marketing and operations teams to discuss where we can add new value to the show, what emerging travel trends need to be showcased, what new verticals we can introduce and any initiatives that we think will maintain our position as the must-attend calendar date for the industry.
Under my remit are the cruise, medical, Middle East, hotels and Turkey categories, for both ATM and World Travel Market (WTM) and one of the biggest challenges – and where our exhibitors are very specific in their requirements - is managing the floor space each year. The secret to getting the floor plan right is to have an understanding of each exhibitor’s requirements and managing their expectations before the next show kicks off. For a large majority of participants, location is vital to their attendance.
Since I joined the team in 2009, the show has grown year-on-year in terms of square meterage, and it’s a real team effort – and great fun – to work on piecing together the show floor puzzle to ensure that each region complements the next, and that the different verticals are aligned to facilitate traffic flow and deliver a productive business environment. At times, I face a situation where exhibitors decline participation because they are not happy with their location. But what they don't realise at the outset is that the key to successful participation is not contingent on the location, but also requires full pre-show preparation, for which we have developed a suite of complementary tools such as the online MyEvent diary for appointment setting.
Our UAE exhibitor workshop programme is another area that I am directly involved in and one that also brings me closer to my clients. We have added two new locations to the roadshow this year - Ajman and Ras Al Khaimah - so we are spreading the ATM message far and wide across the Emirates and helping exhibitors to maximise their participation, and therefore their ROI. This year, we have also introduced the Travel Agent Academy, which will take place on 28 April and which is a free, first-come first-served half-day networking and training event targeting travel agents. This is one example of how sponsorship can support an exhibitor’s brand presence.
In 2015 we welcomed over 26,000 travel trade visitors, so the potential for exposure is huge, and so this is another area where I really enjoy working with our clients to help promote and enhance their brand exposure to a global travel industry audience.
While it’s both overwhelming and extremely satisfying to see ATM ‘go live’ for four days each year, it's the behind-the-scenes activity that makes it such an amazing show to be involved in. I’ve been extremely privileged to watch the show evolve and grow through the years, and to have the opportunity to play my own part in putting the puzzle that is the ATM show floor plan together.