The AITO conference took place in Dubai (14 -17 June 2013) and gave AITO Agents and Operators the opportunity to address the biggest issues currently affecting the travel sector
The conference focused on three key themes - the retail environment, how best to maximise the unique benefit of relationships between AITO Tour Operators and AITO Specialist Travel Agents and a careful analysis of consumer aspirations for travel in 2013 and beyond.
Delegates stayed at the luxury five-star Sofitel Dubai Jumeirah Beach Hotel and had the chance to explore the historic and cultural side of the destination as part of the programme. Other highlights included a traditional Dhow Cruise, as well as a special ‘dine-around’ evening taking place in restaurants at some of the most luxurious hotels in Dubai, including the Atlantis Palm Hotels and the Jumeirah Zabeel Saray.
Speakers included Hossein Johari Tehrani, the Managing Director of one of Dubai’s most successful travel and logistics management groups, Agent Elect, on his in-depth understanding of both international and local market trends and Sunil Bali, a critically acclaimed author, who led a motivational speech on how to use your mind to achieve success.
Radha Patel, Associate Director of The Futures Company, a global strategic insight and innovation consultancy, also highlighted her recent research about the impact technology will have on travel in the future; Kerry Baggott, a lifestyle journalist at one of Dubai's biggest publishing houses, ITP, presented a fascinating insight into what life is really like in Dubai and Evo Hannan, a Dubai-based teacher, revealed exactly how he turned a struggling art department in an English speaking private school into a thriving success by applying business strategies.
An array of benefits for AITO Agents was announced, including a new AITO Agents’ consumer website which will showcase the unrivalled selection of trips offered by AITO Specialist Travel Agents. Every AITO Agent will have its own profile with social media plug-ins, photo and video technology.
The new site will also create a unique online social community for the AITO family, allowing members to keep up-to-date with the latest product developments and AITO news as they happen, and to interact with one another.
Chairman of AITO Specialist Travel Agents, Oliver Broad, says: “The AITO Agents’ membership base is spread across the UK. We regularly organise training sessions and conferences to ensure all members are engaged and this new and improved website will build upon this – acting as an information-sharing forum for members, as well as boosting their online presence. Our membership base still very much has a place on the high street, thanks to its specialist, unique, boutique offerings - but we cannot ignore the power of the internet and it is vital for members to have the best possible online presence.”
Members’ achievements were also recognised at the conference with the presentation of the AITO Specialist Travel Agents Supplier & Agent Awards 2013, voted for my members:
AITO Agent winners:
Travellers World received the AITO Agent of the Year Award, Bakewell Travel was named the Best AITO Agent Newcomer and Gemma Antrobus of Haslemere Travel picked up the AITO Outstanding Achievement Award.
AITO Operator winners:
Classic Collection Holidays received two top accolades - the ‘Closer ties’ AITO Tour Operator of the Year Award plus staff member Claire Cannon received an individual award in the form of the AITO Superb Service Award. Lusso was also named the Best AITO Tour Operator Newcomer.