Abu Dhabi is the capital city and largest out of the seven emirates of the UAE; it constitutes for 85 of the UAEs total land mass. It is home to just over 613,000 people. However, it is the second largest city after Dubai. Over the recent years, Abu Dhabi has evolved into an international conurbation. It is the epicenter of the UAE’s political and industrial activities. The city is also home to prime officials, such as the royal Emir Family and the United Arab Emirates central, federal government. Abu Dhabi is considered to be one of the world’s largest producers of oil and a pantheon for regional commerce. Abu Dhabi has been recently putting in tremendous effort to actively diversify it economy through multiple investments in financial services as well as the tourism sector. From the tourism perspective, Abu Dhabi is considered to be one of the worlds’ most fastest growing tourism destinations. Also, it is deemed to be a city that offers its visitors an opportunity to experience a combination of culture-rich tradition, modernity, adventure, and utter relaxation. Alongside that, Abu Dhabi is also a place where people can experience aesthetic beauty both in terms of the natural landscapes and contemporary architectural designs. In addition, the Abu Dhabi International Airport has also been ranked among the best airports in the Middle East region. Given its blissful beaches, luxurious hotels, and all-embracing shopping experience, Abu Dhabi is an ideal destination for tourists and visitors.
Abu Dhabi has set long-term goals with respect to its tourism plans and priorities. Bearing in mind its initial plans of development and sustainability, the tourism sector in Abu Dhabi plans to achieve certain key strategic goals over the next year. According to the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ABTA), they are aiming to “collectively building a world class tourism destination” (http://www.abudhabitourism.ae, 2012) via developing an extensive range of products that fulfill the needs of their target markets, and by developing some form of awareness with regards to their target market and by creating the necessary level of proficiency in the marketplace. From our standpoint, our mission is to create a marketing plan that will promote Abu Dhabi as an exceptional and globally recognized tourism destination.
Abu Dhabi’s Competitive advantage:
As Abu Dhabi continues its growth, it has managed to gain competitive advantage a customer base as well as on a product/service base and that is through enhancing the city’s infrastructure to reduce traffic, build a more environment friendly city (Masdar City), and the biggest yet to come, the metro.
Abu Dhabi reflects a relaxed yet sophisticated lifestyle. It’s a busy city and a very important business hub but yet maintains a quiet life unlike Dubai which is the city that never sleeps. And it is all in line with Abu Dhabi’s vision. It has become the perfect holiday getaway along with pleasure with business where now a business trip can also mean a good time for the family as well.
Sources of competitive advantage:
Etihad airways UAE’s second national carrier and one of the leading award winning airline, offering the best services for their customers and projecting Abu Dhabi’s true hospitality. Having top notch services in the aviation industry gives tourist their first best experience in Abu Dhabi as soon as they choose them as a way to get there.
For these seeking a unique thriving experience these are some of the thing to do while in Abu Dhabi:
Yas Island: just an hour and a half away from Dubai hosting state of the art hotels, F1 races in Yas Marina Circuit, residential area by the beach, and fun family time in Ferrari World.
Get the chance to ride the track in Yas Marina Circuit.
Abu Dhabi islands: Saadiyat Island if relaxation and resorts is what you need, and Sir Bani Yas to explore UAE’s natural preserve and largest island, as well as Delma Island, holding the Gulf’s most important pearl diving centers.
Desert balloon expeditions
Sports and Recreation:
Sports lovers will have a great share of excitement in Abu Dhabi with some out of many of activities for them to do such as:
Water sports and sailing
Motor Sports and karting
Tennis; with Mubadala’s World tennis championship.
Shopping lovers and fashionistas will indeed have a great shopping experience in Abu Dhabi and these are some of the places and goods they can shop for:
Best buys and bargaining
Arabian and local souvenirs (Sougha)
Traditional markets and souks
Culture and Heritage:
A famous quote is exchanged between people in the middle east and to be specific within the Arabian Gulf region: “one who doesn’t have a past, doesn’t not have a future”, and from there we take on the words of our late leaders and visionaries to illustrate how the Emirates and Abu Dhabi to be exact takes its steps in growing and blooming. Hence, Abu Dhabi’s heritage villages theme park, and archeological sites in Sir Bani Yas illustrate the UAE’s rich culture and heritage.
Other Amazing Must-See Sites:
Masdar City and Masdar institute: a place on almost everyone’s destination’s list to see the completely sustainable building and environment friendly city.
The Grand Mosque: one of the largest mosques featuring amazing Islamic architecture. The grand mosque has the capacity to host 41,000 worshippers, 82 domes, over 1000 columns, 24 carat gold gilded chandeliers and the world’s largest hand knotted carpet.
Al Ain Zoo
Arabian Wildlife park in Sir Bani Yas island
Course Project Focus:
In the course project focus we would like to move away from the cliché of Abu Dhabi being a business hub only and home of embassies and consulates, and go beyond that. Abu Dhabi is indeed much more than that. It’s a vacation destination everywhere you look around beginning with Abu Dhabi’s cornice to Al Ain’s Oasis city, and not to mention the western region of the Empty Quarter desert in Al Gharbia for the adventure seekers  . We will construct a marketing plan to change our audience perception of Abu Dhabi and gain more attention and tourism attractiveness and shape tourism in Abu Dhabi, as well as to meet the goal of Abu Dhabi’s Economic growth vision in 2030.
Section 3: SITUATIONAL ANALYSIS
For the UAE as a whole, the tourism sector had another good year in 2011, although annual growth in foreign tourists slowed slightly to an estimated 11.0%. BMI anticipates a slowdown in the sector over the short term, with growth in arrivals forecast at about8% in 2012 (raised slightly this quarter). Growth in visitors from Europe to Dubai has been weak in recent years. Continuing favorable opportunities exist for the UAE to exploit regional tourism growth, such as from Saudi Arabia. The tourism industry has also become a notable bright spot for the construction sector. The most recent figures for Abu Dhabi for January-July show the emirate welcomed 1.37mn hotel guests, an 11% increase over the corresponding period in 2011.
The already burgeoning tourism sector appears to have benefited from the Arab Spring, with tourists attracted away from other locations in the region. Given the ongoing instability, there is potential for the industry to benefit further in this regard. Annual tourist visits is expected to rise from 1.8 million visitors in 2010 to 2.7 million by 2013 and to 7.5 million by 2030. Every aspect of the strategy works towards showcasing Abu Dhabi as an exclusive, high-end tourist destination where visitors can engage in world-class business and relax.
TOURISM IN ABU DHABI
Base to a large number of leading corporations in the world
Presence of leading luxury hotels
Easy access worldwide due to close proximity of Abu Dhabi Intl Airport
Well laid out and congestion-free streets
Wide array of destinations and events for a family holiday
Lacks the luster and glamour of neighboring Dubai
Development and implementation of projects is slow
Does not cater much towards young single adults.
Rising global position of the region
Presence of natural resources (petroleum)
Ever expanding globalization
Rise of other oil states like Qatar and Kuwait
Disturbances in the region
Overview of SWOT Analysis:
The SWOT analysis sums up the strengths and weaknesses of the tourism industry of Abu Dhabi. The above table shows us that the tourism industry in Abu Dhabi has the potential to grow and become one of the largest in the region. Being the Capital of the United Arab Emirates has made Abu Dhabi home to most of the head offices of leading global corporations in the region. The large number of luxury hotels makes Abu Dhabi a prime location to host business events and conventions. Abu Dhabi caters to families also by having a variety of cultural destinations as well as those that cater to fun. The Ferrari world in Abu Dhabi, The upcoming Yas Waterpark, The Grand Prix and rock concerts such as Creamfields is an attraction that pulls in lots of fun seeking crowds. Abu Dhabi unlike Dubai lacks certain glamour, with tourism and business not being the prime source of income, the implementation of projects is quite slow. Dubai and other oil states in the MENA region are therefore a competition to Abu Dhabi that cannot be ignored.
Competition for tourism in Abu Dhabi involves both local and international level competition. At the local level, it faces tough competition mainly from its sibling Dubai – the ‘Las Vegas of the middle east’. Abu Dhabi has announced new ambitious tourism targets, complemented by a US$30 million marketing budget and huge infrastructure projects, and it is opening up representative offices around the world and attending world travel fairs. The emirate’s ambitions would appear identical to Dubai’s but this sibling wants to be different. However the end product differs from Dubai, Abu Dhabi is now throwing impressive figures into the mix in a bid to attract an estimated U$11 billion in tourism projects by 2015. Ultimately Abu Dhabi may develop a superior tourism product to Dubai, buts its path to achieve this will follow Dubai’s development example, which has shown what you can achieve with a well-coordinated and funded marketing approach.
On the other hand, Abu Dhabi faces solid competition from the other metropolitan cities around the world and renown for tourism. Abu Dhabi has still not turned out to be a popular word among the people around the world and this is what Abu Dhabi needs to aim at. With strong marketing strategies and effective implementation along with determination, Abu Dhabi can definitely reach this goal with top rankings in the world’s best destinations.
The customers in a tourism industry are nothing but the tourists. These tourists visit a county for either of the two purposes – Business or Leisure. Abu Dhabi, being a place which was known for standing up during the recession period and still booming in the market at a good rate with a lot of upcoming projects proves to be a good attraction to business entrepreneurs around the world. Abu Dhabi should definitely focus more on attracting customers who visit for business purposes.
At the same time, families and other people who need to take a trip for fun could satisfy themselves in Abu Dhabi with the numerous attractions. Abu Dhabi has attractions for all the age groups and if people know more about the attractions and events in Abu Dhabi, they’ll definitely not miss out on these. People nowadays are becoming more aware of and interested in tours and Abu Dhabi has very good potential to cater to the interests of all age groups. Abu Dhabi has enough to serve both the types of customers very well and this is what that makes it an effective place for tourism.
Section 4: SEGEMENTATION, TARGETING, AND POSITIONING (STP)
When it comes to tourism planning and strategy formulation, it is of utmost importance to segment the market prior pursuing a course of action or marketing plan. Market segmentation refers to breaking down or classifying the market at hand into submarkets or segments based on certain characteristics or aspects. Such characteristics (demographics and psychographics) may include age, purpose of travel, and opportunities available to them. In our case, promoting Abu Dhabi as the next big tourism destination, the tourism market can be broken down into several segments. The first main segment is families, which consist of parents and children- perhaps also young adults within the household- and even senior members like grandparents. This segment can be further divided into different age groups. For example, this classification can be done as follows: toddlers and children ranging from the age of 5 to 12, teenagers and young adults starting from 13 years of age up to 19, a youth category which encompasses the younger generation (i.e. 20 to 29 years old), and lastly the adults or seniors which are mainly above the age of 30. The second main market segment would be the business travelers. As mentioned earlier in the project, Abu Dhabi is a regional hotspot for business opportunities and investments. Thus, it can attract potential businesspeople. As a result, it is important to consider professionals as a segment within that particular market. Lastly, a third possible segment could be individual/pair travelers such as bachelors, singles, newlyweds (honeymooners), couples without children, and finally, retired or senior couples.
Target Market Identification:
To target a particular segment, a particular destination must prove what is has to offer to be of value to the targeted market. In this case, we believe the predominant target market would be families. There are many reasons why Abu Dhabi would consider promoting itself to families, and conversely, there are many reasons why families might consider Abu Dhabi for their next vacation spot. When firms are marketing a certain product or service, the consumer must understand what the product or service uniquely offers to them compared to that of its competitor and what added value it provides. Similarly, a tourism destination must offer its tourists a unique experience in every regard. It is easy for a family to pick a destination that has amazing parks, state of the art resorts, and large shopping malls, but the question is, what is so different about a beach in Salalah, Oman, a resort in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, and a shopping mall in Dubai, with what Abu Dhabi has to offer? What is it exactly that pushes a family to visit one place over another? The answer is value and experience. The experience and joyful memory is what stays with a person, especially after a trip or vacation.
Abu Dhabi is home to many things that a vacationing family would be on the lookout for. There are many activities that one can do both indoors and outdoors. A business man flying to Abu Dhabi to close some deals can worry no more about leaving his family back home. While he’s busy during the day his wife can take away the kids to Ferrari World, or if they’re a couple with no kids, the wife can go out shopping or enjoying a relaxing spa day in Saadiyat island resort. Nevertheless, business and pleasure has become a very do-able thing in Abu Dhabi where business partners can take a cruise along the sea, golf, or competing on the tennis course while discussing work. What makes Abu Dhabi different is that the visitors do not have to worry about getting stuck in traffic while getting from one place to another. The activities venues are very spread out all over Abu Dhabi beginning with Yas Island, just an hour and a half away from Dubai, to Al Gharbia the western region of the Empty Quarter desert. Additionally, Abu Dhabi has beautiful natural preserves and natural islands where the family can enjoy kayaking along and enjoy the natural beauty, and archeological specimens that reveals the rich heritage and culture of the UAE. Abu Dhabi is the destination where modernity and heritage meets, and greet its visitors with warm welcoming Arabian hospitality and traditions were inherited along the years and are carried on from one generation to the next, therefore the special treatment is always given away wherever you go about Abu Dhabi. Worry no more about what can your family can do â€¦ because there’s fun for everyone in Abu Dhabi.
A quote from His Excellency Mubarak Al Muhairi, director general of ADTA regarding Abu Dhabi’s positioning in the tourism industry says the following: “Abu Dhabi is seeking to attract discerning tourists who will be attracted by a diversified product base of beach, nature, culture, sports, adventure and business tourism. Our mandate is to position Abu Dhabi as an international city of wealth and culture, while maintaining a balanced approach between development and environmental preservation and sustainability. In our five-year strategic plan, 2008-2012, we have prioritized wider international marketing of this destination and we envisage that by the end of this year we will have ADTA representative offices in Australia, Italy and China joining our existing overseas office network which serves our primary markets of the UK, Germany and France.”  Thus, Abu Dhabi seeks growth in the tourism industry and position itself within the market using product characteristics and customer benefits as a positioning strategy.
Section 5: MARKETING MIX & MARKETING STRATEGY
The proposed marketing mix for the betterment of the tourism industry of Abu Dhabi consists of four main elements: Product formulation, Pricing, Promotion and Place.
Product in the tourism industry is any benefits or quality of experience that meets the needs and wants of the customer. Abu Dhabi needs to ensure that the tourism experience that it provides its guests meets their needs. This can be done by ensuring top performance in four aspects of its product.
Designed Characteristics: The tourism in Abu Dhabi can be given a boost by attracting more customers, this can be done by clubbing together different aspects of its tourism like cultural sites, hotels, leisure activities into single deals and promotions.
Service Component: All tourism staff should undergo special training for interaction with customers. There should be a uniform form of administration for all tourism organizations within the emirate. When customers notice the same uniforms and procedures within different tourist spots within the country, it instills a form of familiarity within them.
Branding/Ambience: Abu Dhabi should create a brand for itself as a top end tourist destination. The brand should consist of a catch phrase as well as a logo. The catch phrase should project in the mind of the traveler an image of the destination and a feel of the people and culture. The logo can include prominent structures of the emirate (eg. Sheikh Zayed Mosque, Leaning Tower of Abu Dhabi). Having a brand and its consequent promotion around the world will give a boost to the tourism industry in the emirate.
Pricing is a very important marketing strategy as it helps control the sales volume. Abu Dhabi has over 125 hotels, where many of these are five star hotels. The published prices of these hotels tend to be very high and do not attract a lot of customers. The tourism industry could create deals that club together hotels and different leisure activities and charge a promotional price. This way, the customer perceives more value for the cost they are paying. Abu Dhabi could also create seasonal pricing strategies that can cater a specific tourism season.
Promotion is perhaps the most visible of the four marketing mixes and perhaps what Abu Dhabi lacks the most. As a tourist destination, Abu Dhabi needs to send a global message that they are now ready to enter the tourism market. This can be done through hosting tourism exhibitions and signing contracts with international hotel groups and airlines for promotional prices. Publishing magazines and brochures as well as a more interactive advertising in travel websites can help make the consumers more aware of Abu Dhabi as a tourist destination.
In tourism, place does not refer to the destination alone, rather all points of sale for the destination. This includes travel agents, online booking as well as convenience of access. Abu Dhabi should start a tourism office in major cities around the world offering deals at promotional prices. Etihad Airways already connects Abu Dhabi to different parts of the world, ensuring ease of access to the city.
A well-developed efficient marketing strategy for the targeted segments is very trivial for growth of the product. This can be achieved by the following means:
Sector Regulation: Work with industry sector stakeholders to enhance overall tourism sector standards. Develop and implement sector licensing and classification.
Visitor Experience: Improved and consistent visitor experiences founded on unique culture & character. Visitor services program – Advocacy with other departments and agencies to meet the traveler’s needs.
Accessibility: Significantly improved access to and within Abu Dhabi.
Stakeholder Collaboration: Champion the development of the tourism industry with stakeholders.
Tourism Product Development: Foster leisure and business tourism attractions and events.
Promote Abu Dhabi: Promotion of Abu Dhabi as an international destination. Produce a steady stream of innovative event and concepts which are aligned to, and reinforce brand Abu Dhabi.
Job Creation: Increase in skilled tourism employment and generate greater levels of Emirati participation.
Organization Excellence: Increase the organization’s effectiveness by operating with a streamlined structure, well-defined and documented processes and using the latest available technology tools.
Workforce Development: Increase the organization’s effectiveness and efficiencies by recruiting and retaining skilled employees and empowering them to the highest levels of professionalism with a customer focus attitude.
Sustainable Tourism: Promote development of a sustainable tourism sector adding value to the local community.