New online research by Sabre Corporation (NASDAQ: SABR), the leading global travel technology provider, has revealed that 59 per cent of Middle Eastern adults would pay between $101 – $500 on extras that personalise their travel journeys. The report also provided insight into the pain points, trends and opportunities for the Middle Eastern travel industry.
The ancillary retail opportunity
The research highlighted a significant retail opportunity for travel providers of the 3,090 people surveyed, 52% would be prepared to spend between $101 – $500 on top of the basic costs for a customised experience if they were to purchase flight or hotel accommodation abroad. For airlines, this is significantly higher than the current $21 per passenger spend on ancillaries (CarTrawler 2018 – based on IATA data).
“To align with today’s travellers, airlines, hotels, travel agencies and even corporate buyers must think and behave like true retailers,” said Salman Syed, Vice President EMEA at Sabre. “They need to analyse consumer behaviour and market data to better target future offers and fulfil as many traveller’s needs as possible. By using intelligent retailing to provide what travellers want, anywhere, anytime on the device they wish, travel providers can tap into this huge ancillary opportunity, driving increased revenue and improving customer experience to increase loyalty.”
Demand for personalisation
Consumer expectations and shopping behaviours are becoming more sophisticated, driven by a high level of technology and personalised experiences. The travel industry is no different, and personalisation is becoming a demand rather than an expectation. Sabre’s research showed that 43% of the Middle Eastern adults want personalised travel offerings and services around their needs, expectations and previous experiences.
When thinking about what this personalisation looks like, the majority (40%) of those surveyed wanted recommendations based on their budget, whilst 30% wanted suggestions of holiday extras that would be of genuine interest to them when asked what they would want airlines to do for them in the next 5 years.
In addition to providing a tailor-made experience for travellers, the research showed additional benefits of personalisation for travel providers. 40% surveyed said that they would be more loyal to an airline or a hotel in return for a personalised service, whilst 27% would also be willing to share personal data (date of birth, social media friends list) for this. This highlights a need for travel providers to invest in data-harnessing technology to help understand each traveller’s individual needs, offering each person a customised experience in the right context at the right time.
Mobile and online travel
Sabre’s report showed a significant opportunity within the online travel space in the Middle East, as 48% of those surveyed would look online for travel inspiration for flights or hotels, which may also be to validate pricing. However, when it came to purchase, 35 % citied reasons such as insecurity around online payments and a lack of trust in online pricing (29%).
“This suggests that there is a great opportunity for mobile and online travel, if suppliers can deploy the right technology and security measures, and thereby increase trust amongst customers,” continued Syed. “Retailers need to be where travellers are – online and mobile – and must adopt a seamless, multi-channel sales strategy.”
The study, which compiled insights from 3090 people online across five countries in the Middle East (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, Jordan and Lebanon) was revealed at Sabre Space Jordan, an industry event that brought together experts and leaders from airlines, travel agencies and government officials from across the Middle East to network and learn about the latest travel and technology trends.