While the Middle East remains a region that loves to travel, a new study suggests that the search for value plays a decisive role in how today’s travellers research, compare and book their journeys in this part of the world. Unveiled during last month’s Arabian Travel Market 2018, the ‘Middle East Consumer Travel Report 2018’ – a study co-sponsored by Amadeus and developed by InsightOut Consultancy – explores searching and planning habits of the region’s travellers in a digital era.
The report acknowledges that the Middle East travel market is incredibly diverse when it comes to travel patterns, yet cost is a shared consideration across countries. Cost is cited most often by travellers (50 per cent) as the first consideration when selecting their accommodation – more important than hotel location, classification, or rating. Similarly, almost half of travellers (46 per cent) cite budget as a main factor when choosing flights, more so than airline reputation and even the itinerary. As a result, one in three (33 per cent) travellers today “actively search” for discounts online during the shopping process.
While value is a key driver in travel decisions, consumers in the Middle East are open to being influenced when searching for their destination. However, the expectations from traditional travel advisors are changing: most travellers now visit a travel site or agency when they are ready to book, not when they are still planning their trip.
More people admit to being more influenced by friends, family and colleagues (53 per cent) than by search engines and review sites (47 per cent) or actual travel agents (31 per cent). The research paper confirms that more travellers in the Middle East today will compare elements such as flights by themselves online (45 per cent), instead of going to a travel agent to compare similar products and services (34 per cent). Similarly, 64 per cent of corporate travellers prefer to search, book and pay online for business trips; more than those who depend on their company or a travel agent (30 per cent and 6 per cent, respectively).
In a region where value is paramount, it is surprising that travel packages are generally not seen as an attractive way to find value when booking. Only 16 per cent of the study’s respondents indicated that they book multiple components – flight, hotel, activities – in a package bundle. Yet once again, when a package bundle is booked, cost is the number one reason, more so than convenience or being inspired by travel packages on offer.
Antoine Medawar, vice-president, Amadeus MENA, commented: “By better understanding the key moments of truth throughout the customer journey, the region’s travel industry can shape even smarter, more attractive services in a competitive global marketplace. Consumers all want a personalised and fulfilling travel experience, and travel companies need to be able to deliver value throughout that experience. This is where technology in particular will play a crucial role in keeping the Middle East travel sector moving forward.”
TTN is the most established trade publication in the Middle East distributed on a controlled circulation basis to members of the travel and tourism industry.
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