Selecting a venue? Here’s why you should choose DWTC


Selecting a venue? Here’s why you should choose DWTC

Flexible, adaptable and a launchpad to the future: there are many reasons why Dubai World Trade Centre is the region’s premier event venue

​In 2018, Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) attracted 3.4 million visitors, held 97 large-scale events, and welcomed nearly 55,000 exhibiting companies from more than 160 countries. The venue, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, also contributed 3.3 per cent to local GDP, a clear indication of its resilience in a competitive and dramatically evolving global environment.

But beyond these headline facts and standout figures, what makes DWTC the venue of choice, both regionally and further afield? In a roundtable discussion, Diego Cortese (DC), James Elston (JE) and Marta Payne (MP), three senior figures from DWTC’s Venue Services Management team, outline the venue’s extensive benefits.


What is DWTC’s most distinctive aspect?

DC: For many event organisers, it’s the fact that we offer a turnkey approach. We provide a complete range of event-related services, whether that’s lighting for a concert, catering for a wedding, or branding for a conference or exhibition. We also provide audio-visual equipment, stand build and event production; everything an organiser or exhibitor might need, from A-Z.

MP: Such end-to-end solutions are key, especially to international event organisers. They would otherwise have to search for and hire a range of third-party suppliers. At DWTC, they receive everything under one roof. They come to DWTC, and DWTC alone.

JE: The benefit then lies in the ease of hosting the event, the removal of stress for the organiser. That’s why we always talk in terms of end benefits, not just a list of services. What matters to organisers is how these features become benefits. That principle applies to how we talk about our location, for example.

Being so central must be a key appeal?

JE: Our location is vital in two respects. Firstly because it makes us incredibly well connected. Our proximity to the airport, for example, goes hand in hand with the fact there are 290 direct flights to and from Dubai International. Visitors can get here in one flight, rather than several.

The second point, one that organisers and audiences truly value, is how we’ve built on this foundation, through additional matters such as parking, infrastructure, hotel rooms – all the elements we’ve developed and enhanced down the years to make coming here a pleasurable experience.

On the surface these are features, but their benefit is the resulting experience. To customers, there’s a genuine sense that, at DWTC, everything is joined together.

This distinction is also important because some of DWTC’s key strengths aren’t just simple practicalities. They’re actually deep-seated themes.

MP: Certainly our experience – as a venue and a team – falls into this category. DWTC has 40 years of experience; and that really counts for something. When you look at our heritage, some people have delivered events at DWTC for 10, 15, 20 years. This means they bring both incredible experience and fresh ideas to the table for organisers.

DC: That experience is also about nurturing an industry that was only just starting here 40 years ago. Today we attract more than 3.4 million visitors a year, and that’s a result of constantly innovating to create the ultimate experience for organisers, exhibitors and visitors.

For example, our planning service reflects those 40 years of cumulative knowledge. When you book with us, you get a service that’s been perfected over time. You get a professional dedicated planner, who’s truly experienced and who will walk you through the entire process because they know it inside out.

How important is constant development at DWTC?

JE: It’s absolutely key. You can see this through DXB Live, which started out as an in-house AV supplier, then over time evolved from an events services provider into an integrated event management solutions agency. DXB Live can help not only with the design and planning of an event, but the production and technical aspects as well.

Of course, it isn’t mandatory for customers to use these in-house services, but it’s definitely a value-add, because the team is so well-versed in the venue, and offers an immense depth of expertise, specialism and range of services. The alternative would be to outsource. That has its plus points of course – price-wise it’s competitive – but then as an organiser you have several contracts and multiple points of contact. It can make the whole process more complicated. At DWTC, we maintain just one or two points of contact.

This constant development is apparent throughout DWTC. We challenge ourselves all the time. For example, innovating customer service is a key focus, likewise working with people of determination. We’re always looking at new ways to exceed client expectations.

DWTC offers 1.3 million square feet of space. How important is this to clients?

MP: The size is unbeatable, but what makes the difference is the fact we’re offering endless flexibility: a ‘come and design whatever you want’ proposition. There are effectively no limits on what’s possible here.

This makes us a ‘blank canvas’, giving organisers endless scope for creativity and freedom. And yet we’re also ‘plug and play’, with a range of halls that are easy to get into, with shorter build times, more set production areas and so on. We offer clients the best of both worlds.

DC: The flexibility of our space also allows events to grow. This has been a fundamental part of our success and appeal. We have the flexibility to help an event to grow over time – from inaugural edition to whatever it’s capable of becoming.

JE: We also do that organically. It’s not about shifting an event from one space to another, or completely changing its floorplan. Organisers appreciate a degree of stability, because they know the locations that get certain footfall, the layout patterns that make their event work. So we provide the support to organically grow a successful floorplan, without risking its existing concept or appeal. This provides the reassurance organisers appreciate.

We’re also very aware that too many competing events would dilute a particular market. That’s another reason why we’ve built long-term partnerships with key events. Obviously there’s the space element, but we collaborate to help them grow, and look after their exhibitors, event and audience.

What else motivates them to return?

DC: There’s also the fact that we can help drive traffic for an organiser. We amplify their marketing campaigns, because we’re a stamp of quality. When you hold your event at DWTC, it says something about that event – because of our reputation and legacy for hosting the region’s flagship events, across all core sectors.

People know that if you hold an event here, or if you exhibit here, your footfall and attendance will be maximised – which hopefully increases revenue and delivers return on investment.

MP: It’s also about the extra things you get. Partly the turnkey approach we mentioned earlier, but also the depth and quality of our service. People want reassurance, they want a venue to deliver a seamless, easy way of doing business, with fewer touchpoints, contacts, contracts and so on. For us, it’s about almost volunteering to do every part of the journey, and take workload off organisers’ shoulders. Exhibitions is a stressful environment – we try to provide as much comfort as possible.

How does being in Dubai increase our appeal?

DC: One advantage we have is the way we, and Dubai, are truly international. This is a place that blends nationalities. That suits global conferences in particular, and also trade events where Dubai acts as a hub, connecting markets and bringing them together.

For a start, we operate a dual-language environment – even multiple-language at times. We understand what it takes to create the right experience for different cultures, and remove the stress factor of unfamiliarity for visitors. For example, we stage several events for the Chinese market, such as the Dragon Awards, where the venue became 100 per cent Chinese, from the signage onwards.

We follow international celebrations and we transform into a welcoming venue for everyone. In our kitchens, for example, whether our visitors are from Europe, India, Asia or the GCC, we have dedicated chefs from all over the world who can prepare delicious and authentic dishes from almost every region. We provide menus for all tastes.

JE: DWTC is also embedded in the fabric of Dubai, and its full landscape of activities. We partner with key city stakeholders, such as Dubai Tourism, leading hotel groups, Dubai Airports, Emirates and flydubai, working jointly to pitch events and create appeal in a unique way.

MP: It’s also worth mentioning that we’re a free zone authority, with a large amount of grade A office space.

This makes us a true partner for whoever wants to come and access markets around Dubai. We act as a ‘trade centre’ in every sense of the word. If you exhibit here; you see there’s a market for your company and you decide to expand operations. DWTC can help you set up in business, not only by providing a free zone trade licence, which gives business owners 100 per cent company ownership, but also by offering world-class office space in the heart of the city.

We can actually support you through the entire process of establishing a presence in this region. This is another part of our mandate: to bring business to Dubai, to be the entry point.

With all these factors driving our appeal, what’s the uniting quality?

JE: What DWTC has above all else is the combination of benefits, rather than one particular one.

DWTC ticks so many boxes for organisers, but it’s adding them together that makes the true difference. It’s not about pointing to one thing and saying “that’s what no-one else has”. It’s the totality. That’s what DWTC offers.

​Diego Cortese is Vice President – Commercial, James Elston is Director – Conference & Association Sales, and Marta Payne is Senior Manager Commercial. All three are part of the Venue Services Management team.


  • DWTC
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