Who is Ali Al Shaiba?
Executive Director of Tourism and Marketing at the Department of Culture and Tourism. I have been with DCT Abu Dhabi for about two years now, having worked for government entities across the UAE in the past. My mandate within DCT Abu Dhabi is to drive forward the marketing strategy for the tourism sector of the emirate in order to position Abu Dhabi as a leading global destination in the eyes of the world.
The digital world has transformed the way of promoting destinations. More than beautiful texts and good photographs it is necessary to tell a story ... This is what Abu Dhabi Tourism and Cultural Authority's has been doing, using the video to reveal 'Extraordinary Stories' and selling the country to new audiences.
We know that Abu Dhabi is the largest emirate in the United Arab Emirates and that it hides magical and worthy places to illustrate the pages of a novel book, imposing secular architecture (Saadiyat Island and Al Ain) and wildlife on the desert island of Sir Bani Yas with thinning plants, hawks and other birds and the crest of a salt dome created millions of years ago by geological forces.
But to find out more about how we can take advantage of the magical places we have in our destinations and tell extraordinary stories to attract tourists, Alexander V. Kammel spoke with Ali Al Shaiba, Executive Director of Tourism and Marketing at the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi.
AK: Do you think visual content is important to promote tourism? What is the video strategy used for DCT Abu Dhabi marketing campaigns?
AA: Visual content is the key to capturing the imagination of consumers and building up that desire to see a destination in person. In recent years, we have increasingly shifted our focus to creatives and video content that depicts the surreal beauty of Abu Dhabi in a way that enchants the viewers. Our strategy revolves around telling the story of Abu Dhabi, which is a story of a destination that is dynamic and diverse with rich heritage and history.
AK: What is the main key message of the Series “Extraordinary Stories”?
AA: The message is that Abu Dhabi is an extraordinary place, that enables everyone who visits it to craft their own extraordinary story. Abu Dhabi has something to offer for everyone, no matter what your interest or background may be, and we wanted to capture that. The message is that the elements that make a story extraordinary, the thrill, the excitement, the fantasy, the beauty, the magic, they are all here for you to experience in Abu Dhabi.
"These are the first steps towards attracting a potential visitor: inspiring awe, which then leads to triggering curiosity, and eventually piquing their interest to plan a trip to the destination."
AK: What emotion are you trying to evoke with these stories?
AA: As with everything we do, we always want to evoke curiosity and awe in our audience. We want them to be filled with a sense of wonder, which would lead them to think “wow, this place really exists? I want to go and see it myself!” These are the first steps towards attracting a potential visitor: inspiring awe, which then leads to triggering curiosity, and eventually piquing their interest to plan a trip to the destination.
AK: Video is a powerful tool to promote a destination and attract tourists. How do you measure the effectiveness of the video?
AA: We have many tools, which we utilize through every step of the content creation process to really gauge the effectiveness of our campaign, which in turn guides our direction for the future. Ahead of production, we make sure we test our messages with members of our audience, to get their insights on what they want to see and want to hear. After production and distribution, we utilize all the measuring tools we have at our disposal to assess the effectiveness. This includes calculating online and broadcast engagements, assessing the level and type of response from consumers, and conducting surveys to test the effectiveness of our campaign amongst our target audiences.
AK: Can you explain the tourism strategy of “Extraordinary Stories” and some insights regarding the impact on the public and media?
AA: Our aim was to truly showcase Abu Dhabi’s diveristy and unique offerings to people across the globe, to trigger their inspiration and consideration to visit our emirate. We activated a 360 campaign to reach a wider audience around the world, and the results were highly impressive. We have witnessed an immense interest from people, resulting in 20.1 million visits to our website in 2018, a significant rise in comparisin to 2017- about 76 percent higher. China and India were amongst the top countries of interest yielding more than 5 million and 3 million website visits respectively. They are also amongst the top 3 source markets of tourism for Abu Dhabi, making the results very important to us as they translate to potential visits. The campaign has also seen its success within interntional media, helping us position Abu Dhabi as an ideal tourism destionation that enjoys sunshine all year round and offers a bit of everything to meet all interests.
AK: A good, emotional story, with a hint of feelings, and a few drops of humor, immediately captures our attention. In your opinion, how important is the storytelling in Travel Video Marketing?
AA: The Storytelling is important to any form of marketing, but it is especially important for travel. People travel to create stories, to live fantasies, to feel and experience new things. And in order to appeal to them, you have to be able to tell an inspiring story about your destination that will capture that fantasy that travelers are seeking. Effective storytelling also adds a human and emotional angle to your marketing, which helps you relate better to your audience. Every destination has a unique story that makes it appeal to travelers, and you have to make sure you do that story justice when you relay it to your audience.
AK: “Extraordinary Stories” won several international awards around the world in Tourism Film Festivals. How important are these awards for DCT Abu Dhabi?
AA: We are honored and delighted to have received so much recognition for this campaign. These awards are a culmination of the hard work that our team has put in over the past months to deliver a campaign that is truly inspiring. I think what these awards serve to accomplish is confirming to us that we are stepping in the right direction, and that we have succeeded in delivering an impactful strategy. Second, it helps position Abu Dhabi as a leading destination in the eyes of professionals within the global tourism industry, which can potentially attract new partners and stakeholders in the future.