Souk and you will find

This weekend’s ABTA Travel Convention in Marrakesh will be attended by senior representatives from companies across the industry. There will be around 2,000 delegates, doing an awful lot of talk. So what’s in store? Dinah Hatch reports

1. Breaking the ice
You are in a foreign setting, surrounded by hundreds of people you don’t know and the event is massive. It’s all a bit overwhelming – especially for first timers. But the good people who organise the ABTA shindig know this and have put together a load of icebreakers and events to get people mixing easily.

This means you can get to know a few people while taking in a round of golf or a game of tennis. Or maybe you’d like to do some sightseeing and get your bearings?

Think of all the useful contacts you’ll make while you are hitting that ace or haggling for that rug in a souk.

2. Time to speed-meet
Don’t miss the chance to meet loads of useful contacts face to face at this year’s speed dating-style meetings in the Talk Zone.

To speed-meet, you request a ‘date’ with a Talk Zone table holder via simply stating when you want to meet and what you want to discuss. You will then receive a message telling you if your date has been accepted. You also receive a dating card to help you organise your schedule.

3. Be prepared
What with all the meetings to arrange, stands to visit and receptions to attend, it’s easy to forget the simple things that will make your life a lot easier.

Don’t forget to pack your bag each morning with plenty of business cards, a handy-sized notebook and plenty of pens to jot down details of people you have met and sessions you want to attend, and a large bottle of water and a snack to keep you going in case you don’t get around to eating lunch.

4. Word on the street
This year’s masterclasses include some of the hottest topics in the travel industry, so they are well worth attending.

Worried about how bird flu is going to affect the travel industry? Been stressing about how to get more media coverage for your business? The ABTA masterclasses have all the answers.

5. Get lucky
Do not, on any account, forget to visit the Avis stand. The car hire company has teamed up with Travel Weekly to offer anyone who visits the stand the chance to win a car. The winner will be announced at the gala dinner on Saturday evening.

6. You need therapy
Everyone knows that people who work hard need to play hard – but they also need time to relax. And you don’t even have to leave the venue to do it.

This year, visit the Pamper Zone. Here therapists will whisk you away from the hustle and bustle for a soothing massage. Then, when you are feeling revived, give those weary hands a treat with a delicious manicure, glamming yourself up nicely for Saturday’s gala dinner.

7. Join the party
First time at ABTA, or are you an old hand? The First Timers and Five Star party at the Mansour Eddahbi Hotel on Saturday night is an invitation-only event for agents, operators or anyone else who is making their debut at the Convention, or clocking up their fifth visit.

The reception is attended by the ABTA staff and board, and is hosted by Turismo Andaluz. It’s an ideal opportunity for newcomers to get a feel for how the conference works and how to make the most of their time.

8. Paint the town red
Last of all, get to grips with the nightlife. On Saturday, from 11pm – the big night – it’s all about dancing with a difference, when nightclub Pacha sees the Strictly Come Belly Dancing event.

Here, the very brave and the very silly shake their bodies for the chance to win a holiday. The night is sponsored by Panorama and its stand at the conference has two competitions to win drinks vouchers for the night. Enjoy!

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