Travel tech in focus at ATM as online bookings grow to 31%

4139Technology in the travel industry will come into focus at Arabian Travel Market this year, with the four-day event set to highlight tech growth within the industry, as online travel bookings in the MENA region increased by 10% in 2014.

According to YouGov data (which surveyed 22,686 online respondents, all MENA residents) 31% of those surveyed booked all of their travel requirements online, an increase of 10% over 2013. Of those surveyed 25% used their smartphones to book hotels online while mobile usage to access online travel guides or to book leisure activities rose by 6%.

“Throughout the region, we are witnessing major growth in online bookings as airlines, tour operators and hotels develop ever-more sophisticated digital platforms and social media strategies to ensure they reach out effectively to both existing and potential guests,” said Nadege Noblet, Exhibition Manager of Arabian Travel Market, which takes place at the Dubai International Convention & Exhibition Centre, on 4-7 May 2015.

“The industry as a whole is embracing technology like never before, to compete in a digital market place where accessibility and speed are critical to the demands of today’s tech-savvy travelers, especially mobile compatible sites for hotels, tour operators and leisure attractions,” added Noblet.

Spontaneity in the decision making process for choosing a destination has increased by 11% according to the YouGov data, thanks to upgraded technology. Paul Richer, senior partner of travel technology consultancy, Genesys, will host two dedicated seminar sessions at this year’s exhibition addressing a range of topics including latest developments in mobile, digital marketing and digital distribution issues and how these are impacting the consumer.

The seminars are panel-led discussions which focus on how Gulf destinations can better utilise technology, as well as outlining the latest trends and best ways of meeting the needs of the tech-savvy traveler.

The Gen Y market (those aged 18-30) in the region is placing even further emphasis on the hotel industry’s need to offer uninterrupted broadband internet access for guests as well as a consistent social media campaign, marketing a bouquet of hotel services. According to a Viacom report, the Middle East’s Gen Y population is more internet reliant than any other region, with four out of five staying connected wherever they are.

One Dubai-based hospitality company at the forefront of technological advances is TIME Hotels Management. The group was the first in the UAE to introduce ‘cloud’ collaboration software across all of its IT platforms.

“Technological developments, now more than ever, are playing a major role in the hospitality industry, something we look to harness and develop to ensure we remain at the cutting edge of advances. Greater guest interaction, more targeted campaigns and better internal systems are all advantages we have seen through our technological upgrades,” said Mohamed Awadalla, CEO, TIME Hotels.

TIME will be joined at the 2015 exhibition by a number of new and returning travel tech specialists. Amadeus, Sabre Travel, Payfort and M-hospitality return to the show while LeGate, 24× and TravelClick will make their debut.

“At the core of our tech strategy is making the guest experience from booking to check out as seamless as possible. This includes ease of searching and booking the hotel in the first instance through, to the quality of communication during their stay. Technology is an inevitable aspect of the hospitality industry, investment in the latest hardware and software is crucial, along with the training that goes with it,” added Awadalla.

The technology theme is only a part of a packed agenda being developed for ATM 2015. Other highlights include budget travel, health and wellbeing, shopping, transportation, luxury, sports, culture and heritage, and adventure.

The 2015 event will also build on the success of last year’s edition with the announcement of an additional hall as Reed Travel Exhibitions looks to add to its record-breaking achievements in 2014. Last year ATM saw total attendance increase by 12% with 33,000 participants and business deals signed worth more than US$2.1 billion over the four days.

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