The search for value plays a crucial role in how today’s Middle East travelers research, compare and book their journeys. We co-sponsored a study, developed by InsightOut Consultancy, which was unveiled during this week’s Arabian Travel Market 2018. The Middle East Consumer Travel Report 2018 explores the searching and planning habits of the region’s travelers in a digital era.
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 agencies are changing: most travelers now visit a travel site or agency when they are ready to book, not while they are still planning their trip. Antoine Medawar, Vice President, Middle East and North Africa, Amadeus explains why:
Interestingly, the study shows that travel packages are generally not seen as an attractive way to find value when booking. Women in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates) play a key role in this type of decision making, even more than in other parts of the world. Cristina Polo, General Manager, InsightOut Consultancy, elaborates more:
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%) as the first consideration when selecting accommodation — more important than hotel location, classification, or rating.
As expected, the method of booking and payment for travel has substantially evolved. Ernesto Sanchez Beaumont, Head of Commercial Strategy and Business Management, Amadeus, explains:
Some more highlights from the report include:
- Travel sellers need to adopt a consultative approach to packaging clients’ requirements within designated budgets. Travelers understand the value of packages but want the freedom to customize them to suit their journey and preferences.
- Travel sellers should focus on better communication, in order to overcome the negative perception of packages – that they are difficult to tailor and just a way to up-sell services.
- Travel sellers should reconsider traditional channels of influence with a focus on gaining positive endorsements from consumers directly, rather than through paid media or paid social influencers.
- Travel sellers’ marketing campaigns should focus on mobile channels that promote active awareness and involvement, rather than static offline communications that are now marginal and more related to passive awareness.
You can download the research paper here.