Digital tools key for UAE travellers: Study

Four in five UAE travellers (83 per cent) are now open to offering their biometrics to reduce waiting in security lines, according to an independent global study commissioned by Travelport. Dubai international airport, for instance, has already taken the cue by setting up biometric technologies instead of human checks to allow certain travellers to complete passport control in just 15 seconds.

Launched last month, the annual Global Digital Traveler Research surveyed more than 16,200 travellers in 25 countries who took at least one return flight last year, and revealed that over half (61 per cent) of UAE travellers now use voice search to research their next trip and one in five (17 per cent) believe it has the greatest influence over their choices. The compelling findings also highlight that UAE travellers are now most reliant on their smartphone when researching their trip (76 per cent).

Kathryn Wallington, Travelport’s country manager for the UAE, commented: “Our research findings underpin how important digital tools, such as smartphones, biometric screening and voice search, have become for UAE travellers. For those in the global travel industry, providing relevant and timely digital tools is no longer an option, but essential to be able reach and satisfy travellers of the modern age.”

The research also indicated that flight-related mobile app features are critical to UAE travellers, particularly the capabilities to search and book flights (73 per cent), receive flight alerts (67 per cent), mobile check-in (68 per cent), and buy extras such as wi-fi, baggage allowance, and priority boarding (64 per cent).

It also showed a third of UAE travellers (35 per cent) prefer seeing all their trip itinerary in one place, while 38 per cent now feel that not being able to access bookings on all their devices is frustrating. Nearly three quarters (70 per cent) of UAE travellers also said a good digital experience, such as online check-in and access to gate information on their mobile device, is important to them when choosing an airline for leisure travel, more than those in France (58 per cent), Germany (55 per cent), and Japan (39 per cent).

Despite the high use of digital channels, including smartphones, tablets and computers, the study did reveal UAE travellers have some frustrations when it comes to booking trips online. Nearly half cited pain points such as not knowing the companies they can trust and often not knowing what is included, for example, number of bags or meals among other details, at 43 per cent. More than two fifths (41 per cent) also referenced concerns regarding booking everything separately, such as flights, accommodation, and ground transport, as well as questioning whether all online reviews are genuine (43 per cent).