Wednesday, May 8, 2013

New Google study highlights potential of growing tech-savvy Gulf traveller

New Google study highlights potential of growing tech-savvy Gulf traveller

More and more KSA and UAE travellers using mobile and video for travel decisions; survey results indicate greater investment in online capabilities needed to develop opportunities and convert to bookings

Participating as sponsor for the first time at Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2013, Google announced today the results of an independent study conducted by Ipsos to better understand the decision making process of travellers in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The ‘Traveller’s Road to Decision’ study revealed that users in both countries are tech savvy and rely on mobiles and videos when making travel decisions, providing in-depth data on the consumer behaviour of leisure, business and affluent travellers.
According to the report, apart from family and friends, the Internet is the number one source for trip planning for 39% of UAE and 38% of KSA leisure travellers, with the number rising for business travellers to 50% and 48% respectively.
However, there are distinct differences between online activity in the two countries, with Saudi leisure travellers relying on social networks and search engines as information sources, while, in the UAE, search engines are the primary source followed by online videos and maps.

Google also cited the surge in smartphone ownership and improved connectivity in the region as a major driver of mobile usage when planning travel with 48% of survey respondents using their smartphone in the last year to engage in a travel related activity, rising to 69% for specific smartphone or tablet use.

Saudis lead the way with their mobile usage when it comes to travel, with 50% of travellers accessing the web through smartphones, against 35% in the UAE. However, the report also noted that travel companies are currently missing out on the prospect to convert these mobile travellers into bookings with a very small percentage of users completing their booking via mobile devices, due to issues with the sites they are accessing.

Commenting on the results, Marie De Ducla, Head of Travel Industry at Google MENA, said: “Today, especially in the Middle East, travellers are constantly connected to the internet and it is no surprise that mobile is part of their exploring and decision making process.”

“The lack of bookings made online through smartphones is surprising, but represents a massive opportunity for the travel industry to improve online presence, and tap into the UAE and KSA travellers who more and more are using their phones as a digital concierge.” added De Ducla.

Across both the UAE and KSA, the leading barrier to booking online cited by half of the respondents was that the websites were not mobile-ready, thereby delivering a poor user experience. A further 20% of those surveyed mentioned the lack of mobile booking capabilities as a hindrance to full e-commerce capabilities.
The second major finding of the report was the opportunity for travel brands to develop online video content with travellers increasingly using video in the first two stages of planning travel (thinking about taking a trip and choosing a destination).
In Saudi, 81% of leisure travellers; 92% of business travellers and 87% of affluent travellers watch online videos, providing a strong platform for advertisers and brands looking to reach the market. According to the survey, 68% of affluent and 75% of business travellers in KSA said online videos introduced them to a travel brand they were not aware of.
Additionally, affluent UAE travellers use online videos as their number one source for planning trips (21%) in conjunction with online map sites. Following videos and maps, affluent travellers use airline websites (18%), travel review sites (13%) and search engines (5%) when making travel decisions.

For more information on Arabian Travel Market 2013, please log on to
Notes to Editors
IPSOS Survey done offline (phone interviews and face to face interviews)
Period: March to April 2013

Sample : 1000 consumers in KSA, 1000 in UAE, who have travelled at least once for leisure or business reasons in the past nine months.

Definitions :
- Leisure travellers has taken at least one trip for leisure in the past 9 months
- Business travellers has taken at least 3 trips for business in the past 9 months
- Affluent has taken at least one trip for leisure in the past 9 months and has a household income > SAR/AED 40,000

About Google Inc.
Google is a global technology leader focused on improving the ways people connect
with information. Google’s innovations in web search and advertising have made
its website a top Internet property and its brand one of the most recognized in the
world. Google is a trademark of Google Inc. All other company and product names
may be trademarks of the respective companies with which they are associated.

Visit Think Insights for more information on travel and tourism:

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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, meetings, incentives and business travel, as well as golf, ski and spa travel. Reed Travel Exhibitions also organises Abu-Dhabi based global meetings and incentive exhibition, GIBTM which takes place annually in March.
The RTE portfolio of 19 events are; World Travel Market (WTM), World Travel Market Latin America (WTM Latin America), Arabian Travel Market (ATM), International French Travel Market Top Resa (IFTM), International Golf Travel Market (IGTM), International Ski Travel Market (ISTM), International Luxury Travel Market (ILTM), International Luxury Travel Market Asia (ILTM Asia), International Luxury Travel Market Americas (ILTM Americas), International Luxury Travel Market Africa (ILTM Africa), International Luxury Travel Market Japan (ILTM Japan), International Luxury Travel Market Spa (ILTM Spa), 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), India Incentive, Business Travel and Meetings (IBTM India) and Business Travel Market.
September 2013 will see the launch of IBTM India in Mumbai and another exciting launch in the ski travel sector, with International Ski Travel Market in March 2014 in Austria.
RTE is a business unit of Reed Exhibitions.

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.

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