Regional online travel bookings worth $15.8 billion by 2014

31 Oct 2012

ATM 2013 technology seminar series to highlight inevitable shift away from traditional channels with internet bookings expected to grow by another $5.4 billion accounting for 22% of all travel bookings within two years

The topic of online versus traditional booking channels will once again be a key focus at the 2013 Arabian Travel Market technology seminar sessions as organiser, Reed Travel Exhibitions, highlights the dramatic shift in consumer mindset over the last 12 months as travellers log on to technology for convenient airline and hotel bookings.

A shift in the attitude of the region’s travellers to new booking channels has seen online bookings grow by almost a third in 2012 to reach just under US$10.4 billion, up 31% on 2011 figures.

According to an October 2012 study from Travelport entitled ‘Assessing the Online Travel Opportunity: The Middle East’, conducted in association with global travel market research company PhoCusWright, this upward trend is predicted to continue with online bookings expected to account for 22% of all travel bookings made in the region within the next two years, with a total value of US$15.8 billion.

The research, which covered online travel trends in 10 Middle East countries from 2010 to 2014, also revealed that regional online travel agencies (OTAs) are expected to grow by 18% between now and 2014, with gross booking value set to almost double from US$3.1 billion to US$5.4 billion in the next two years.

“In 2011 alone, there was a 39% rise in online bookings in the region, and we are seeing a clear shift from dependence on traditional booking channels to online services as the Middle East traveller becomes more comfortable with using the Internet as a convenient and credible resource,” said Mark Walsh, Portfolio Director, Reed Travel Exhibitions.

Travelport’s research document confirms the findings of a mid-year report issued by travel comparison site wego.ae, which profiled 50,000 website users. Similar to the early adoption of travel sites in Asia, Wego found that UAE travellers are taking control of their own itineraries as they search for best deals and added value.

“The breakneck pace of technological development is leading the travel industry towards the inevitable reality of a virtual business environment. The ‘human face’ of the business needs to be successfully transplanted into the online domain by bringing both personality and functionality into play if companies are to maintain their commercial success moving forward,” said Walsh.

Growing confidence in ecommerce sites and the safety of web-based transactions is also prompting an increase in interest in online travel searches, says Wego, which also saw a substantial rise in traffic and transactions following the launch of its parallel Arabic-English platforms earlier this year.

“Now that wego.ae is live in Arabic, we have noticed a surge in local hotel searches and interest in a much wider mix of international flights and accommodation to over 600 destinations,” said Ross Veitch, Wego CEO and Co-Founder.

According to Veitch, searches by local users for flights from Abu Dhabi have increased by 120% year-on-year, and by 106% for Dubai departures. Flight searches to neighbouring Qatar have doubled; with Saudi Arabia registering a 76% increase. Local as well as international hotel searches by UAE residents are also up 121% against 2011 figures, with Wego reporting that Dubai leads the top 20 most searched destinations (as at April 2012), with 20.2% of total share, followed by Abu Dhabi in third place at 7.7% and Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah and Sharjah also making the top ten.

Hotel operators in the region are also vying with OTAs to drive online bookings as the market becomes increasingly competitive. “We have seen a steady increase in online hotel reservations since we opened two years ago, with 2012 year-to-date figures showing a 35% revenue increase on 2011; and we have a dedicated revenue and e-distribution manager as part of the team,” said Purnima KP, Director of Sales & Marketing, Mövenpick Hotel Deira.

The 2013 Arabian Travel Market technology seminar series will once again welcome leading regional and international digital experts specialising in the travel sector, who will reveal the latest digital trends, share information on technological advancements and invite session attendees to share their own experiences and insight.

Arabian Travel Market 2012 will be held at the Dubai International Convention & Exhibition Centre from 6-9 May 2012. For more information, go to www.arabiantravelmarket.com

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Notes to Editor

For more information on Arabian Travel Market 2013 please log on to www.arabiantravelmarket.com About Reed Travel Exhibitions Arabian Travel Market is organised by Reed Travel Exhibitions (RTE), the world’s leading provider of exhibitions in the travel and tourism industry. Its wide-ranging portfolio of events around the globe covers leisure travel, luxury travel, business travel and the meetings and incentives industry.

Reed Travel Exhibitions also organises Abu-Dhabi based global meetings and incentive exhibition, GIBTM which takes place from 25-27 March 2013. In 2011 RTE 13 events were the catalyst for £2,807 million worth of travel and tourism business deals.

The 13 events are; World Travel Market (WTM), Arabian Travel Market (ATM), International French Travel Market (IFTM), La Cumbre, International Golf Travel Market (IGTM), International Luxury Travel Market (ILTM), International Luxury Travel Market Asia (ILTMA), Asia-Pacific Incentives & Meetings Expo (AIME) (owned by Melbourne Convention + Visitors Bureau), Global Exhibition for Incentive, Business Travel, and Meetings (EIBTM), Gulf Incentive, Business Travel and Meetings (GIBTM), Americas Incentive, Business Travel and Meetings (AIBTM), China Incentive, Business Travel and Meetings (CIBTM) and Business Travel Market. April 2013 will see RTE launch World Travel Market Latin America in São Paulo.

RTE is a business unit of Reed Exhibitions. In 2011, six million participants attended RE’s 500 events in 39 countries covering 44 industry sectors from aerospace and aviation to beauty and cosmetics to sports and recreation. Reed Exhibitions is owned by Reed Elsevier, the world’s leading provider of professional information and online workflow solutions.

 About Reed Exhibitions

Reed Exhibitions is the world’s leading events organizer, with over 500 events in 39 countries. In 2011 Reed brought together six million active event participants from around the world, generating billions of dollars in business. Today Reed events are held throughout the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Asia Pacific and Africa and organized by 33 fully staffed offices. Reed Exhibitions serves 44 industry sectors with trade and consumer events and is part of the Reed Elsevier Group plc, a world-leading publisher and information provider and a FTSE 100 company. www.reedexpo.com

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