Marketing strategies of Expo 2020 Dubai: a comprehensive study

Sunitha K. Haneef*, Zakiya Ansari

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The purpose of this study is to discuss the phases and kinds of marketing strategies being employed during the conduct of mega events such as expos. The study also aims to familiarize the reader with the detailed marketing strategies used by Dubai Expo 2020 and the marketing strategies adopted by tour operators in Dubai, alongside their most used digital channels of communication and marketing. Further, an attempt has been made to understand how the marketing methods for Expo 2020 can be integrated with the marketing of general travel products in Dubai. Design/methodology/approach: Short, unstructured interviews with open-ended questions were conducted as part of the data-collection method over a period of two weeks. The interviewees are a core group of officials from the marketing and IT sections of Dubai Expo 2020. The data were recorded for later retrieval and analysis. Also, a survey of 150 tour operators and travel agents was conducted over a period of five weeks. This garnered a comprehensive set of data on the preferred marketing strategies to promote tourism products. Findings: The marketing strategies used for Dubai Expo 2020 have been attractive, varied and innovative. Digital marketing is the most opted-for channel of communication for marketing purposes by both Expo 2020 officials and tour operators and travel agents in Dubai. Maximum popularity in terms of usage by tour operators and travel agents is reflected in social media channels of marketing, especially Facebook. There is a need to evolve a distinctly separate digital marketing strategy that will create more tailored marketing campaigns based on the characteristics affecting the consumer behavior of people engaged in Expo 2020. Research limitations/implications: This study could have incorporated more varied data if other stakeholders, e.g. hoteliers, had been included. More varied data would certainly have been useful in arriving at well-founded observations about the ideal marketing strategies that could be adopted for an event of this magnitude. Another limitation is that interviews with a greater cross-section of the officials of Dubai Expo 2020 would have rendered a more detailed and finer description of the marketing methods used in promoting Dubai Expo 2020. Practical implications: Dubai is being equipped as a world-class venue for large-scale conferences and conventions rivaling Las Vegas for meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions. Further, Dubai will be able to position itself as a favored location for hosting a wide array of events with global participation. Social implications: Based on this study, it is reasonable to conclude that there is a need to rethink and innovate ways of marketing by customizing the marketing strategies according to the market structure and consumer behavior, without abandoning any particular marketing channel. Originality/value: This research on the marketing strategies of Dubai Expo 2020 is of interest to industry, government agencies and other stakeholders. The observations drawn from this study on marketing strategies can be used by other nations hosting similar events in similar geographical areas to provide a basis to design or redesign their tourism and marketing strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)287-297
Number of pages11
JournalWorldwide Hospitality and Tourism Themes
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jun 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Expo 2020
  • Hospitality
  • Marketing strategies
  • Tourism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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