Industry in ME fast adopting digitalisation
Inbound market to Dubai is key to its tourism success. Key markets for Dubai and Golden Sands are India, KSA and UK. Inbound traffic accounts for the biggest percentage of tourism business to Dubai. Trend in travel for this region is still relatively unchanged with GCC countries still booking with short lead time, whilst European markets tend to book early. There are also more B2B and B2C companies, increasing the volume of business coming via online channels. Hospitality industry is seeing more companies creating software/ apps to not only help increase volume of business but also to improve visibility of one’s products. Millennials are those tourists who need to be connected and able to post/share information online as and when they are experiencing it. Travellers to this region will continue to increase as more attractions, such as Dubai Parks & Resorts, open up. Families from within ME will also visit the attractions, thereby increasing tourist numbers. Additionally, we are seeing increased tourists from areas such as China, and the numbers will only continue to grow due to the size of its population.
ATM is very important, it enables key people within the industry across the globe to meet in an efficient and productive manner, share knowledge and trade, and showcase Dubai. The travel industry, as most sectors currently, is facing challenges that further highlight the importance of ATM. It is still an innovative and growing sector with demand remaining relatively robust; however, customers are increasingly seeking more value and lower price points. Demand for more ‘authentic’ travel experiences is also growing. Digitalisation is disrupting the sector. Customers are now more in control of how they source inspiration, search, book and share their travel arrangements and it’s important that companies understand these changing customer needs and adapt the technology to support. However, great service and product delivery and customisation remains imperative.
The Arabian Travel Market is the largest travel exhibition in the region and an excellent platform to meet our existing clients and network with the potential ones. We take this opportunity to showcase the excellent and exclusive products and services of the national carrier to India to our valued partners. As India’s national flag carrier to the Gulf region since the late 60s we have been connecting over 13 cities in six countries in GCC/MEA region to 69 domestic destinations in India and to the US, Europe, Australia, Far East and South East Asia. The positive impact of digitalisation can be observed by 10 per cent Y-o-Y growth in web bookings on Air India’s website and on Air India Express (IX), our LCC subsidiary, all bookings are net based. IX had a 45 per cent growth in operations in GCC region. We are responding to the strong demand on travel needs for employment, corporates, tour operators or governments and will be introducing attractive packages with special focus on the Gulf, the Middle East and Asian region and connectivity to India in 2017.
ATM is certainly one of the key shows for inbound operators and certainly for Arabian Adventures to attend. It provides an opportunity to not only meet with tour operator partners but also to showcase the destination, our products and services. At Arabian Adventures we operate in 60 markets worldwide and it is therefore vital that we research and survey to find out what our clients need – be it for FIT or MIE. We have a product development team that works on refining our product portfolio and assessing the potential of new experiences. The infrastructural development of the UAE has been the significant factor toward offering world class experiences to international tourists. At Arabian Adventures, we work across multiple markets and continually collaborate with partners, consortia and associations across all the markets we operate in. We have a proud history of pioneering new products and investing in unique experiences be it around culinary endeavours the desert, conservation and local heritage.
ATM is a very important platform for travel, tourism and hospitality. Over the years it has created the ideal platform for trade partners to negotiate key business deals over a period of four days. Today, we witness a very educated and knowledgeable traveller who would seek the assistance of a travel agent after careful research on his own about the type of destination to travel, reasons to travel, how, where and what needs to be done. Both traditional and online travel agencies are used as a medium of consultation which places the agents and their partners on a higher level. As we see an upward trend in the usage of smart phones as DMCs we should be prepared to cater to the new age of traveller whether it is business or leisure. The online world will have to work better on the social media arena, not only through targeted marketing, but through sharing experiences better. Online giants cannot continue being bookers. They have to move into being travel consultants. Hotels are trying to reduce the dependency on these giants and this where they can mark their difference.
Mohammed Khoori General Manager, Golden Sands Hotel Apartments
Robin Parry Vice President Emirates Holidays
Regional Manager Air India Melwin D’Silva
Samir Mehta General Manager, Arabian Adventures
General Manager, Alpha Destination Management Samir Hamadeh