Phocuswright expects that the Middle East travel market will reach nearly $100 billion in gross bookings this year. To maximise the enormous potential for the region, Sojern and Google present the latest travel insights for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Through these learnings, travel marketers get a more holistic view into this unique region. Here are some of our top findings:
Tuesday is the most popular day for bookings
Searches for travel peak on Mondays and Tuesdays. Tuesday is the busiest day for bookings. If we dig deeper into time of day, search peaks early, around 10am. Bookings peak after 2pm, and maintain sustained interest into the evening, where the share of booking outpaces search.
The share of mobile bookings peaks on the weekend
Interestingly, the share of mobile bookings spikes on Friday and Saturday. This accounts for around 15% of all weekend bookings. As people go about their weekends, they bring their smartphones with them to plan and book travel.
Mobile is the tool for in-destination planning
After booking, travellers tend to move cross device. Most people bring their smartphones with them while travelling. Around 40% of MENA travellers searched for shopping destinations while on holiday, and 35% looked for food and drink options. Moreover, 20% used their mobile to search for places of interest and another 20% searched for directions locally.
New destinations trend alongside old favourites
While major cities like London and New York are integral to travel from MENA, we see lesser-known places make the list of top rising destinations. Al Ain, a UNESCO Heritage Site, tops the trending list. People increasingly look to fly direct to Al Ain rather than into Dubai. Beach resort Hurghada re-emerges as Egyptian tourism recovers from the regional strife of the past couple of years.
Ramadan isn’t the only busy travel season
While outbound travel searches peak post-Ramadan, we also see sizeable booking peaks in August and December. Several busy periods mean that marketers have more opportunities to attract in-market travellers. So, you can also identify when there are low periods, to focus your efforts to increase bookings during these times.
Offline bookings are characteristic of the region
But don’t underestimate the power of online for initial searches and narrowing preferences. More than 40% of offline bookings involve some degree of online research.
The more affluent the hotel brand, the more likely it is to be searched on mobile
This is the opposite of what occurs in the United States. In the US, more affluent hotel segments have a lower share of mobile queries. Interestingly, this tends to be the case in North Africa and the Levant, indicating a propensity to ‘dream’ on mobile. The GCC shows a clear preference for luxury and upper upscale hotels, accounting for over 70% of hotel searches.
Want more great insights from our recent collaboration? Check out the full piece now.