DWTC’s packed calendar means there is a steady flow of business for us. In 2017, the venue hosted 103 large-scale events (defined as having more than 2,000 attendees), which attracted 2.63 million delegates. Of these, some 1.1 million were overseas visitors, all of whom needed somewhere to stay.
As a luxury hotel, we appeal to international VIPs and senior management, be they exhibitors or delegates. We fill our 555 rooms by working with event organisers, giving them preferred rates and the first allocation of rooms. They then list us on their website as a preferred hotel in which delegates can stay.
We also have returning clients who block-book rooms directly, attracted by our unique offering of proximity to DWTC and luxury services and accommodation. A single company might reserve 20-50 rooms for one of the big annual exhibitions. If you have seven or eight groups booking 10-plus rooms that quickly adds up. Most international event attendees stay for an average of five nights, which helps to keep our hotel busy.
The percentage of our guests who visit Dubai purely to attend an event at DWTC varies throughout the year. The biggest exhibitions such as GITEX, The Big 5, Gulfood Manufacturing and Arab Health account for a large majority of our occupancy on a given day, while visitors to the smaller shows also make a significant contribution to occupancy numbers.
Conrad is part of Hilton, a leading global hospitality company, which also drives people to us.
As for our second role of providing overflow space for DWTC, we are very flexible in the kinds of facilities we offer to event organisers. We cater for everything – from a small breakout meeting for a handful of people to a large function with 800-1,200 attendees. We usually handle about 10 events for the biggest exhibitions at DWTC, such as gala dinners, receptions and CEO meetings.
This close collaboration means Conrad Dubai is very much a part of the DWTC offering. We have built great relationships with event organisers and, together with other nearby hotels, have helped to grow DWTC’s convention business further.
Our story is an example of how DWTC brings wider value to Dubai. Today, the venue accounts for about 3.3 per cent of Dubai’s economy, and we are just one of many hundreds of businesses that benefit from the activities of the convention centre.
Beyond hotels, there are retail outlets, entertainment venues, taxi services and airlines, which all benefit from the exhibitors and delegates that the events held at DWTC bring to Dubai. Their spending allows these businesses to generate income and, even more importantly, to support thousands of jobs, thereby making Dubai an attractive place to live.
At the same time, without all of these individual elements, DWTC would not be able to offer world-class events and exhibition facilities or continue growing in the way that it is. And that is the very definition of partnership.