World Tourism Day is just behind us, a day that highlights one of the UAE’s biggest industries. In 2016, tourism and travel accounted for 12.1 percent of the UAE’s GDP, adding $43.3 billion to the economy. The country attracts masses of tourists from season to season – 14.9 million of them last year, to be precise – but these visitors are beneficial across all industries. In fact, all brands with a presence in the country need to sit up, take notice and reach out, to engage huge numbers of holidaymakers – or else miss out on these lucrative audiences.
So how can marketers widen their appeal by talking not only to locals but tourists too? One way is to create campaigns targeted at consumers in specific locations, such as Dubai airport or the Burj Al Arab Jumeirah hotel. The planet’s busiest airport for international travelers and most luxurious hotel in the world aren’t bad places to execute campaigns using geo-fencing, which enables marketers to target devices within a certain perimeter.
But marketers risk turning off locals that are already familiar with their brand if they target everyone in a given place, especially as location data alone cannot differentiate between tourists and Emiratis. Only by layering location data with other sources, such as historical location data and search data, can marketers exclusively segment consumers from abroad.
These data sources can do more than tell tourists from locals, however. They can reveal where visitors come from and what language they speak, how long they have been in town, and their interests and values. It can show that someone regularly browses women’s clothing on high-end fashion websites, making it fair to assume that they will take particular interest in certain womenswear stores in the Dubai Mall. Or, it can show that someone is on a multi-stop business trip, making them likely to appreciate being invited to Dubai airport’s VIP lounge for a relaxing glass of champagne before flying. Equipped with such granular details, marketers are primed and ready to execute highly targeted campaigns.
An international shopping centre brand partnered with Blis on a campaign that did just that: used location data to attract international tourists to their malls in different countries. Audiences who had browsed holidays online were delivered an ad when they came into proximity with a mall while on holiday. Creatives were adapted according to target market, featuring different models and brands, and cultural events were also taken into account, with Golden Week highlighted as a particularly good time to reach Chinese tourists. In short, all the nuances of the campaign were devised based on insights from layering data sources to lend the campaign relevancy for tourists from all territories.
The campaign produced a footfall rate of 2.23 percent against a benchmark of 1-1.5 percent. This was even higher for Chinese audiences in UK and US malls, at 3.43 percent and 3.39 percent respectively, and similarly the average for the Middle East was a high 3.41 percent. The results show that once an audience has been identified, and creatives and messaging adapted, marketers are in a prime position to deliver a compelling campaign to audiences of multiple nationalities in one go.
What’s more, the UAE is the perfect place to execute such a campaign. Thanks to the tourism industry, the place is brimming with potential for local marketers: not only do people visit in their tens of millions every year, but visitors to Dubai are by far the highest spending tourists in the world, well above other destination cities like New York and London. Visitors to the city splashed out an unbelievable Dh104.7 billion over the course of last year.
So whether marketers want their brands to be front of mind by delivering ads before visitors arrive, or drive footfall by inviting them in when they pass a brick-and-mortar store, location data is the key to reaching tourist audiences in the UAE. With campaigns tailored specifically to them, tourists can benefit from top tips and retail offers in their own language from familiar brands with relatable creatives, while marketers can unlock a vast, affluent and ever-changing audience for their creative and localised campaigns in one of the world’s greatest shopping destinations.