Saturday 23 March 2019

Saudi Arabia sees boom in mobile travel bookings

DUBAI, March 18, 2018

Even though desktop continues to be the dominant platform for travel bookings in the GCC, the region has been witnessing a growing shift to mobile bookings with Saudi Arabia marking a 116 per cent increase during the year, new data showed.

Among the top regional cities assessed, Riyadh had the highest rate of mobile booking penetration (MBP), followed by Jeddah, with total purchases made on mobile devices in the two cities amounting to 32 per cent and 31 cent, respectively, according to the 2017 Travel Insights Report by Cleartrip,
a leading mobile and online travel company in the Middle East.

In Saudi Arabia, where mobile bookings grew at a whopping pace of 116 per cent in 2017, 31 per cent of bookings represented purchases made on mobile as compared to 69 per cent desktop-based purchases, whereas in the UAE, which witnessed a 60.65 per cent rise in mobile transactions last year, 25 per cent of total bookings took place on mobile devices against 75 per cent on desktop.

Interestingly, the findings showed that there is a clear correlation between the number of travellers per ticket and the platform used for booking. Customers in the region increasingly prefer computers over mobile for purchases as the number of travellers increased. For solo travellers, 27 per cent of bookings were made on mobile, while 83 per cent of reservations for a group of 10 persons took place on a desktop.

The findings of the report showed that ticket prices for air travel between different origin and destination cities recorded a significant drop in 2017, as compared to the previous year. Jeddah-Dubai marked the biggest decrease with a 28 per cent slump in travel fare followed by Beirut-Dubai that saw an average price decline of 21 per cent during the year.

The findings also revealed that the air industry witnessed mixed growth in different markets in the GCC in 2017. In Kuwait, the air industry expanded at a growth rate of 20 per cent compared to 2017, while in Saudi Arabia year-over-year growth was at 14 per cent.

In 2017, the average fare per booking stood at Dh1,580 ($430) in Kuwait, Dh1,453 ($395.4) in Saudi Arabia, and Dh1,422 ($387) in Bahrain. The average fares per booking on mobile for these countries were Dh1,543 ($419.9), Dh1,322 ($359.8) and Dh1,276 ($347.2), respectively. In Oman, which recorded the lowest average fare per booking in the region, it was Dh1,030 ($280.3) overall and Dh944 ($256.9) for bookings made on mobile devices.

Contrary to popular belief, the majority of travel bookings in the GCC - and Saudi Arabia in particular - are taking place within a week prior to departure and mobile outperforms desktop in last-minute purchases.

The comprehensive report shows that 48.3 per cent of mobile bookings and 41.4 per cent desktop reservations in the GCC during the past year occurred up to a week ahead of travel. Similarly, in Saudi Arabia, 48.3 per cent of travel bookings on mobile devices and 44.9 per cent via desktop were made within seven days of departure.

The 2017 Travel Insights Report also shows that 18 per cent of travellers had an average trip length of 35 days and more, while the average trip duration of up to six days represented 27 per cent of all trips made during the year.

The region witnessed a large portion of its travel activity in August, followed by July as travellers in the region, which is home to a huge population of youth and expatriates, made their summer holiday trips. April, May, and September were also the preferred months for travel, while October and November recorded the least number of trips in 2017.

Dubai took first place on the list of top five destinations for travellers in the region in 2017, followed by Sharjah, Manila and Abu Dhabi. On the other hand, Yerevan topped among the most trending destinations during the last year, with a whopping leap of 498 per cent over 2016. Tbilisi and Kathmandu came in at second and third place, jumping 210 per cent and 207 cent, respectively. Among the 10 prominent destinations of choice for family trips, Jordan topped the list, followed by Tbilisi and Beirut. 

In the region, credit card continues to be the preferred method of payment for travellers. In 2017, Bahrain topped among the six countries in the region with 94 per cent transactions made on credit cards, while in Saudi Arabia 28 per cent of purchases were made using debit cards. In the UAE, credit card, debit card and other payment methods represented 81 per cent, 13 per cent and 6.3 per cent of total bookings, respectively.

Cleartrip’s booking data also shows that 20 per cent of travellers like to grab a bargain on tickets in the UAE, which is followed by Kuwait where 19 per cent of customers prefer promotions and deals.

As a promising economy, all signs show that Saudi Arabia will continue to see very strong growth for airlines in the next five years with solid capacity growth facilitated by local airlines and new entrants in the market. - TradeArabia News Service

Tags: Mobile | Saudi | Booking | Arabia | Cleartrip |

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