November 2, 2010
Ahmed Ranja undertook an internship with Action Global Communications for six months, working with the digital and social media team in the UAE office, from Sweden. Here, Ahmed recounts his experience… My media management degree from Sweden was full of fascinating experiences but the most amazing learning during my master’s programme was the online internship with Action’s UAE office, its GCC headquarters. Over a six-month period I worked on my master’s thesis, which was ‘Promoting Tourism in Abu Dhabi using Social Media’. I have always been fascinated by the culture, lifestyle and geographical location of United Arab Emirates. Although it is not a large country by land area, the cultural mix offered by this destination is one of a kind. Their renowned luxury lifestyle and warm hospitality had always been a major attraction for tourists. When Action UAE’s Head of Digital, Meredith Carson, recommended this research topic I conducted a study and realized that opportunities for promoting tourism through traditional media are slimming down. These days, travellers generally prefer to collect information online from various websites and online networks, rather than walking into a tour operator or agency. Once I decided upon the medium to convey my message – social media – the next phase was to turn to the diverse aspects of tourism. As I was thinking about tourism, a question popped up in my mind: why do people want to travel? What actually motivates them? This forced me to look into consumer motivation theory, as it is considered especially relevant to tourism. Thinking about how social media could be successful in exploiting the key strengths of Abu Dhabi, I conducted a thorough investigation and figured out that there are many boons. By using social media, would-be travellers can easily discover media-rich information (video, imagery, articles, opinion, stats and facts) about their intended destination. These platforms allow people to collect desired knowledge from several sources as well as glean insight from other people’s travel experience. There were abundant experiences that I went through during my course, some were fascinating and others were exasperating. Lots of reading, writing and re-writing has been a vital practice during this expedition which at times was annoying but was the sole path leading to perfection. At times I did feel low but never let go hope and every rising challenge made me more determined. For those who intend to pursue careers in social media, I would just like to say that it is a field where one needs to put in hard work and demonstrate smart work. One of the crucial lessons that I learned during the research work was that there are no shortcuts or substitutes to hard work. One has to put in utmost energy to achieve the desired results because, at the end of the day, the final outcome is equal to the amount of effort put in by you. Sincere devoted work does get recognition and this sense of achievement is worth all the sleepless nights and stressful moments.