Mobile travel transactions boom in the Middle East, language playing a significant role

  • Published by Ozgur Tore

mobile travelAt the new ATM Global Stage, Phocuswright’s Middle East analyst, Jeff Strachan, chaired an interactive event, at which regional analyst’s examined the latest consumer and technology trends driving the market.

Phocuswright, has revealed that mobile transactions from Middle East travellers are set to hit double digits for the first time ever in 2016 as consumers become increasingly comfortable using their handheld devices for travel purchases.

“Transactions from mobile devices are expected to cross 10% this year, reaching double digits for the first time in 2016, With exciting trends like ever-improving technology infrastructure and a young population with an appetite for travel, the Middle East region is poised for enormous growth in the next three years, both online and off; and companies need to stay ahead of the curve in order to remain competitive in the area,” said Strachan.

The latest round of Phocuswright research also highlights the growth in online penetration in the region, which is on track to hit 31% of total revenues in 2016, up from 25% in 2014 and 27% in 2015; with 19% of all revenues delivered online via supplier-direct websites, and 12% of all revenues emanating from online travel agencies (OTAs).

OTAs are also gaining hotel revenue share according to the data. In 2014, 56% of all OTA revenue was attributed to airlines; whilst in 2016, 46% is forecast to go to hotels, with airline share dropping to 52%.

“There’s been a huge surge in confidence in the security of online transactions in the Middle East in the last 12 months and, as more and more people across the region start to rely on their mobile devices as a speedy, secure and reliable way to get things done, this can only increase. From everyday transactions such as bill paying to bigger and more emotionally driven purchases such as hotel stays and holidays, online is rapidly replacing offline interaction,” said Nadege Noblet-Segers, Exhibition Manager, Arabian Travel Market.

According to Phocuswright, OTAs represent 75% of all online revenues to hotels, and 28% of all online bookings to airlines, who have a much better online direct performance (61% from website direct and 11% via mobile).

Online travel agency representatives including Stephen Ekbergh, Founder and CEO TravelStart; Mark Forrester, Managing Director, Occupancy Marketing; and Ross Veitch, Co-Founder & CEO, Wego Pte Ltd, highlighted the challenges and opportunities for online distribution in the region.

According to Phocuswright, key source markets including India and Saudi Arabia are making rapid movement to online travel transactions with language playing a significant role in search, particularly in Saudi Arabia where over 50% of hotel and air search terms are in Arabic language.

Understanding the Indian marketplace was examined in a single session with an executive interview with Indian online travel company, Ezeego. Its CEO & Director, Neelu Singh, shared insight into how Middle Eastern destinations can better get to grips with the requirements and interests of Indian tourists in order to drive inbound visitor numbers and increase spend.

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