Smooth in-house operators

HATA members take it upon themselves to organise and execute their 45th convention in Dubai, and find that careful planning pays off

Event brief
The last time the annual convention of the Hong Kong Association of Travel Agents (HATA) ventured to a faraway land was 17 years ago in Capetown and Johannesburg, and the association was keen to organise its 2018 edition somewhere different.

The organisation of the convention would eventually fall on the shoulders of its two office staff and a 10-member convention committee, as HATA decided against hiring an event planner.

Challenges
The first challenge was to find a suitable destination that provided visa-free access, daily direct flights served by multiple carriers, and that is safe for travellers.

Significant considerations also had to be made about the convention theme. It had to be one that would attract participation and inspire speakers and attendees to brainstorm visions and solutions to benefit the industry.

As well, HATA had to balance registration fees and sponsorship with expenditure.
Without an events contractor, it meant immense workload for HATA’s convention committee.

Solutions
Dubai, which satisfied all conditions, was eventually chosen to host the HATA 45th Annual Overseas Convention.

Convention committee chairman, Edmund Tsang, said the destination decision was made 10 months leading up to the event date.

To ensure the convention committee was able to cope with the planning and execution of the convention, the team mapped out a detailed timeline that took into account all critical tasks. Team members were all experienced in convention management, and with the support of skilled crew, they closely monitored the execution process from start to end.
The convention committee chose to go with a theme that emphasised values needed to address future challenges. Hence, How Artificial Intelligence Impacts the Future of Travel was borne. Three keynote speakers were appointed: Antoine Medawar, senior vice president and managing director, Amadeus for Middle East and Africa; Celia Lao, CEO, Air Asia for Hong Kong and Macao; and Lucas Leung, founder, TraVR HK.

Recognising that content is king – and required to ensure strong participation, the convention committee built an attractive programme comprising keynote speeches, plenary sessions, break-out workshops and enrichment time for sightseeing, entertainment, spouse and social activities.

In terms of enrichment, delegates got to see city sights and go on hotel inspections in Dubai. As well, options of two- and three-day post-conference tours to Abu Dhabi were offered.

HATA received an overwhelming response for the convention. The Abu Dhabi post-conference tour, in particular, got snapped up swiftly.

Altogether, the HATA 45th Annual Overseas Convention was attended by 116 delegates – in excess of the targeted 110.

To tackle sponsorship requirements, the convention committee established an amicable working relations with the sponsors to deliver brand alliances and value adds.

Key takeaways
HATA realised that the success of the 45th Annual Overseas Convention in Dubai has set new standards for future editions and elevated the association’s standing in the hearts of members.

Encouraged by the performance of the 2018 edition, HATA has started planning for its 2019 convention – and longhaul destinations are being considered again.

HATA’s spokesperson also added that a key lesson from the organisation of the 45th Annual Overseas Convention is the need for flexibility. For example, with the eager response seen for the Abu Dhabi post-show tour, HATA moved to add on another one-day tour to the destination for wait-listed delegates.

Event The Hong Kong Association of Travel Agents (HATA) 45th Annual Overseas Convention
Organiser Hong Kong Association of Travel Agents
Venue JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai
Date October 12 to 14, 2018
Number of participants 116

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