The standard of digital experience offered by airlines, hotels and travel agents now carries significant influence over the booking decisions of young travellers in the UAE, according to the findings of Travelport’s Global Digital Traveller Research 2019, which surveyed 23,000 people from 20 countries.
Three quarters of millennial travellers in the UAE now actively consider whether an airline (77 per cent) or hotel (76 per cent) offers a good digital experience when making a booking. Half (51 per cent) also get frustrated when booking information isn’t available round-the-clock on mobile devices, such as smartphones and smartwatches.
Kathryn Wallington, head of account management, UAE, at Travelport, said: “Demand for high-quality digital experiences is now exceptionally high among millennial travellers in the UAE. This shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise bearing in mind just how high the bar has been set in recent years by trailblazers in travel and other industries; as well as the fact this age group are digital natives. Today, a good digital experience should be delivered as standard; and differentiation should be sought through excellence.”
Travelport’s study also revealed that three fifths (60 per cent) of UAE millennials now want augmented or virtual reality experiences to help them better plan their trips. Other findings include how two thirds (69 per cent) of millennial travellers in the UAE have used voice search to help them manage travel, with one quarter (22 per cent) ‘nearly always’ using the technology for this. Some of the most popular questions millennial travellers in the Middle East and Africa ask their voice search capable devices relate to information about the weather at their destinations (62 per cent) and directions to their hotel (60 per cent).
Wallington added: “We expect the range and sophistication of questions asked through voice search to expand exponentially as more travel specific capabilities are introduced. EasyJet is a great example of a company embracing voice search. The Speak Now feature on its app, developed by Travelport, will enable customers to search for flight options in a matter of seconds. And it’s not just about speed. Importantly, features like this also help make travel booking easier and more accessible for the visually impaired.”
According to the study, when researching a trip, nearly all millennial travellers in the UAE (93 per cent) have now reviewed videos and photos posted by travel brands on social media and one third (34 per cent) ‘nearly always’ do this. Facebook is considered the most influential social media platform by millennials in the UAE.
Wallington continued: “So much content today on social media is travel related. According to Adweek, 52 per cent of Facebook users are dreaming about holidays when on the channel, even when they aren’t planning a specific trip. This makes social media not only a fertile environment for inspiration but also an exciting channel for converting looking into booking. We’re seeing more and more companies take advantage of this.”
When booking a flight online, two fifths (42 per cent) of millennial travels in the UAE today want to personalise their experience through add-ons like extra legroom and additional baggage allowance. However, when attempting to do so, half are currently left frustrated by not being able to understand what is included as standard (49 per cent) and not knowing what add-ons are available to them (52 per cent). Half (48 per cent) also get frustrated when companies don’t remember their preferences.
Wallington concluded: “Travellers today want more control and transparency when it comes to personalising their trips. The results of our study show the travel industry has work to do here. However, new industry standards, as well as merchandising products like Travelport’s Rich Content and Branding, are moving us firmly in the right direction. At Travelport, we will continue to accelerate developments in all these areas, and more, to help the industry keep pace with the rapidly evolving needs of the modern traveller.” - TradeArabia News Service