Goway’s Africa and Middle East Roadshow Proves Invaluable for Advisors

The Africa and Middle East Roadshow by Goway kicked off at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Toronto, drawing a crowd of over 150 attendees. Twenty-seven suppliers showcased their destinations.

Travel advisors unanimously provided glowing feedback saying that meeting the DMCs of the various countries provided invaluable insights into selling these unique destinations.

Moira Smith, Goway's Vice President for Africa and Asia, noted that this event marks the first show after a three-year hiatus. Activities began with a weekend of fun, including a ping-pong event at Spin Toronto. Virtual educational sessions were held on Monday, engaging close to a thousand travel advisors. The packed agenda for Tuesday featured destination presentations that provided valuable information and tips to assist travel advisors in booking trips for future clients.

Open Jaw sat down with Moira Smith to discuss how Goway's products are being received by the travel industry:

Recently, we have observed a significant increase in interest from various consortiums; such as TTAND and Ensemble, as well as independent Expedia cruise agents. This surge in attention comes from a diverse group of travel professionals; many highly vested in their field.

Notably, we've witnessed a change in our most dedicated supporters who have traditionally focused on selling destinations like the South Pacific. Now they are eager to expand their horizons and delve into the world of African travel. This shift reflects a broader trend of travel advisors seeking to enhance their knowledge and expertise, ultimately benefiting themselves and their clients.

Representatives from 27 destination suppliers attended this year's Travel Roadshow - including South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia, Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, Morocco, Egypt, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia.

Open Jaw, in conversation with Travel Advisors at the Trade Show, received glowing feedback about the educational sessions. Advisors expressed appreciation for the comprehensive product information, stating it aids them in informing and selling to their clients.

What is the shift in focus, particularly concerning the Middle East and Africa, as part of your product offerings?

I've been with the company for 17 years, and it's been fantastic to witness our product range grow. In 2020, we ventured into West Africa, specifically Ghana, Togo, and Benin, filling a gap. We found there were very few mainstream tour operators selling West Africa.

We've also expanded significantly, introducing destinations like Ethiopia and enhancing our offerings in Kenya, Tanzania, and Southern Africa.

Dubai has become a significant attraction, especially for group travel. Our data shows that Dubai, once considered a brief stopover destination of two or three nights 15 years ago, now, on average is a stay of six nights.

The Middle East, with the current situation in Israel, has caused a considerable slowdown. However, we are gradually redirecting travellers to Egypt and Jordan. Some individuals have opted to postpone their Middle East travel plans till a later date.

Recently, we received a glowing testimonial from a solo female traveller who returned from Egypt; she expressed how safe she felt, and overall having a wonderful experience in the country.

We are actively promoting destinations like the UAE and Oman, both of which are underrepresented in the market.

Open Jaw: Can you share any specific interests that you've uncovered among your clients?

In today's travel landscape, cookie-cutter trips no longer capture our client's interest. We refer to many of them as "globetrotters," often early-adopters of new destinations and frequent repeat clients.

Travellers are seeking more extended and immersive experiences. A notable trend is the inclination to blend multiple destinations into one trip. For instance, in the Middle East, combining Jordan and Egypt is a popular choice. In Southern Africa, a classic combination includes South Africa and Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. Additionally, adding a few nights in Botswana's Chobe National Park is also becoming a common preference.

Open Jaw: How has "Saudi Arabia” been received by Travel Advisors?

Travel agents have responded positively to the Saudi Arabia product, which is expected to lead to more questions and inquiries.

Brittany, one of our product managers, had the opportunity to visit Saudi Arabia around two months ago, and her experience was eye opening. She discovered many misconceptions about the country, such as strict dress codes for women, no longer hold. While it is still recommended to cover one's shoulders when visiting religious sites, she found the Saudis incredibly welcoming and hospitable.

One of the aspects that left a lasting impression on her was the wide variety of products and experiences available in Saudi Arabia. The depth and breadth of the offerings reflected the destination's potential as an exciting and diverse travel option. The positive feedback and growing interest from travel agents indicate a promising future for Saudi Arabia as a sought-after destination.

Amanda Pilar, Sales Director North America, Exo Travel for Saudi Arabia

“Exo is a seasoned DMC with 30+ years in the business, and we’re known for Southeast Asia and Japan markets. Recently, we’ve expanded into Saudi Arabia and handle product management, sales, and operations in country. We partner with travel agents and tour operators. Our specialty is crafting tailored itineraries with a strong focus on experiential touring.”

Nimit Amin, Executive Director Trade Markets, Saudi Arabia Tourism.

”We're launching programs with various consolidators, wholesalers, tour operators, and a consortium across the US and Canada. The feedback has been phenomenal. Early-adopters and adventure-seeking customers eager to check new experiences off their bucket lists have shown strong interest.

Now, we're expanding into what we call the "Middle East plus" category, where travelers explore surrounding countries like Egypt, Jordan, Oman, and the UAE. Customers from distant Canada are increasingly choosing extended itineraries that include Saudi Arabia, a new addition to our offerings starting in December with three weekly flights by Saudi Airlines departing from Toronto.”

South African Tourism’s DMC representative Kristy Angelliotti, Head Trade Relations North America.

“South African Tourism has been a long time partner of Goway. The Canadian market is important and it’s slowly building back up post pandemic.”

Lux Holidays L to R Sheniffa Velji, Mumtaz Waljee, Shazmin Issani

From the Lux Holidays Team:

“Getting to know the company behind Goway was quite educational. When booking with a tour operator, you typically aren't aware of the DMC they're using. Meeting them provides insight into the company's values and we learned a great deal.

I'm a new agent, and it was my first time working with Goway. I recently booked a client's trip to Egypt, Dubai, and London through Goway, and I had a great experience. I want to learn more about what Goway offers in Africa and the Middle East, as these are popular destinations with many client requests.”

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