UAE Travellers Happy to Spend More on Personalised Travel

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New research from global travel technology company Sabre Corporation (NASDAQ: SABR) has found that travellers from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) would be willing to spend an average of $107 (AED370) on extras to personalise their trips.

The study, which surveyed business and leisure travellers from the UAE in order to learn about their latest behaviours, motivations and expectations, also found that almost fifty percent of travellers are more likely to be loyal to an airline or a hotel if they receive a personalized service.

Personalisation to upsell hotel and air extras

Representing a significant retail opportunity for the travel industry, 29 percent said they would pay more than $136 (AED500) on air ancillaries, while 25 percent would spend at least this amount on extras at their hotels. And this willingness to spend on extras is considerably higher in the UAE than in many other regions; earlier research conducted by Sabre found that the global average figure travellers would be willing to spend on extras was $98 (AED360) and just $85 (AED312) in Europe.

Personalisation beyond demographics

The research found that a desire for personalised travel is not linked to any particular demographic of traveller. Forty-five percent of millennials would demonstrate loyalty to their airline or hotel in return for a tailored service, compared with 60 percent of generation X. Furthermore, 30 percent of millennials would be willing to share their location and basic personal details in return for offers that are customised towards their individual needs, compared with 27 percent of generation X.

“Personalisation is no longer a trend driven by a specific group of people,” said Daniel Naoumovitch, CEO, Sabre Travel Network, Middle East. “Irrespective of their location, age and gender, travellers are expecting and demanding personalised offers and services in return for their loyalty and the information they share with travel providers. If they receive a tailored service, they are willing to spend a considerable amount of money. Technology is crucial in order to provide the travel industry with an understanding of each individual traveller’s needs. With the right technology, travel companies can harness data effectively and create meaningful and relevant interactions with individual travellers at various points throughout their journeys – leading to more revenue opportunities.”

The survey also suggested that travellers are expecting the same level of personalisation in their business trips as they do during leisure travel. Driven by millennial and generation X travellers, 64 percent of respondents would consider extending a business trip for leisure purposes.

Mobile and online travellers

The survey also highlighted the latest trends in mobile usage during travel shopping and booking. Forty-one percent of UAE travellers use their smartphone to purchase travel, while 47 percent prefer to use their laptop and 15 percent use tablets. Representing a need for multi-device retailing in the travel industry, one in five UAE travellers now uses more than one electronic device to research and book travel.

When asked about the source of their online travel purchases, 69 percent of UAE travellers stated they booked via an online travel agency (OTA). Forty-three percent preferred to use a global OTA, while 26 percent choose to book via local or regional online travel agents.

“One of the most unique characteristics of the UAE travel market is that mobile and desktop bookings are practically on par,” said Antonella Vecchio, vice president Western Europe and Online, Travel Network, Sabre. “Mobile bookings are also particularly high in this region when compared to a global average of 13 percent. The online travel market is booming in the UAE; it is the second fastest growing online market globally*. Local and regional OTAs, as well as all travel companies in UAE, need to understand the behaviours and expectations of today’s travellers in order to compete on a global level. They need to recruit the right technology to address their customers on the device they want, capture their data and action it to provide them with an exceptional travel experience that is designed specifically around their preferences and needs. That’s how they can gain their loyalty and to be more competitive in such an evolving industry.”

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