Attendees return to real, live, actual conferences
Attendees return to real, live, actual conferences
05 OCTOBER 2020 7:47 AM

Good job Arabian Hotel Investment Conference for bringing audiences back to conferences, even if numbers are low. It brings more hope to the industry, and it is not a desperate ploy as are some examples of marketing I have seen.

Last week saw the three-day Arabian Hotel Investment Conference “AHIC on the Road” beam across the planet, although the onus was on the Middle East of course.

What was shocking to the casual observer was that even though some panelists were in their homes or offices, others were on a stage.

A stage, for those of us who cannot remember because it’s been so long since the industry has seen an in-person conference, is usually a raised platform at one end of a large space in a hotel called a conference or banquet room.

What happens is that on it are placed chairs, microphones, glasses and pitchers of water and experts in their fields able and willing to discuss their business’ successes, challenges and outcomes.

Facing them, and only speaking if there is a Q&A session, are members of the industry collectively called the attendee list.

I write in jest, but how wonderful was it to see real people on stages and also real people listening to them, all socially distanced and wearing masks. Note that several are making notes on laptops and pads to bring back to HQ to improve operations.

Attendees at the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference "AHIC on the Road." (Photo: Terence Baker)

The photo above could be the subject of a humorous caption competition, but I must say the sight of even a handful of people in a traditional setup made me go giddy all over in anticipation of when this will all happen again and on a larger scale.

May that be very soon!

From left: Accor's Floor Bleeker; Kerzner International's Willem Both; Jumeriah Group's Sanjay Sharma; and Marriott International's Waleid Ibrahim speak on a panel at the recent AHIC event. (Photo: Terence Baker)

The other screen grab I took was of a panel stage, and the thing that struck me was the need for panelists to learn to speak louder and more clearly, such are the new distances between them and the moderator.

The information and advice provided from now on will be far more easily heard. No longer the mumbling panelist or the tongue-twisted moderator.

Desperate marketing
One of my favorite, relatively new sections of British satirical magazine Private Eye is a section called “Desperate Marketing,” where readers submit examples of marketers making analogies via the flimsiest of parallels between the products they hawk and a news item, seemingly, preferably, to do with a celebrity.

I could submit an example, one that made me raise my eyebrows before I started chuckling.

A marketer suggested that London is truly happening—no, it is not, right now, sorry! —because it tops the list of the most Instagram-worthy cities in which to ask for a hand in marriage.

No one is meeting anyone in the U.K. now due to renewed rules following a second spike; all the workers bees of London, which includes yours truly—are at home working there instead. June 2021 (the most popular month to get married) is already too close to know exactly if weddings will still not be limited to 15 people; and any demand for travel largely is being enjoyed by rural and seaside locals. These are all crucial points that seem to be lost by the marketer in a frenzied desire to get something in front of hacks.

I am not sure what this email is supposed to convey about the 10th and last British city on that list, and I genuinely cannot remember what that city is, so I will not be so cruel as to look it up and make stereotypical jokes about it.

Well, all that made me laugh, and laughter is surely what we need more of right now.

Your examples of desperate hotel-related marketing are welcome.

Email Terence Baker or find him on Twitter.

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