A senior Marriott International executive has been confirmed as the first speaker for a revamped Aito agents and operators conference in Dubai.
Middle East and Africa sales and marketing vice president Jeff Strachan, a former resort rep with Aito operator Keycamp, will lead an interactive session about growing a company from family roots into a global hospitality leader.
His talk will also look at how Marriott is re-energising its core brand and how the independent sector can learn from its work.
The conference on June 14-17 will focus on three key themes – the retail environment, how best to maximise the unique benefit of relationships between Aito operators and specialist travel agents and an analysis of consumer aspirations for travel in 2013 and beyond.
Aito specialist agents chairman Oliver Broad said: “We’re refreshing our conference format to enable the content to be driven by delegates via pre-event surveys that will identify priority issues for discussion.
“We’ll have more round-table discussions and brainstorming, with the aim of sending every delegate back to the office with as many useful notes and ideas as possible.”
The event is sponsored by the Dubai Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing, Emirates and Sofitel and is expected to attract more than 100 agents and 120 operators.
Delegates will stay at the Sofitel Dubai Jumeirah Beach Hotel and participate in a ‘dine-around’, taking in hotels such as the Atlantis Palm Hotels and Resorts Atlantis and the Jumeirah Madinat Resort. Members’ achievements will also be recognised with the presentation of annual awards on the final night.
A pre-conference fam trip to Oman has been organised by Kirker Holidays and a post-conference trip to Mauritius with Beachcomber Tours together with add-on stays in the emirate with If Only.
Broad said: “We’re excited to have Jeff on our speaker panel. He appreciates what we are about having worked for an Aito operator, and yet he is now part of a very large corporate world.
“This places him in a perfect position, understanding the framework of Aito whilst being able to offer an international perspective on the needs of the modern client. What’s more, Jeff has lived in the Middle East for 16 years and can offer us in-depth knowledge about selling the region.”
Strachan said: “Independent travel agents, in my view, have a key role to play in offering clients a unique service, and I’m interested to discuss with delegates issues such as service fees and how they see themselves working in the future.”
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