One of the main ways that users in the Middle East are searching and booking their travel options is through mobile. This is according to a report from Cleartrip and Flyin.
The online travel agency has seen a 76 per cent rise in the number of bookings conducted on mobile phones in the MENA region. The top growth in the first half of this year came from Kuwait and Oman with 287 per cent and 181 per cent respectively when compared to the same time period last year.
In Saudi Arabia, more than half of the transactions conducted are made on mobile phones thanks to the country's high smartphone penetration rate. In a broader sense, the overall travel market in the Middle East is expected to reach USD100 billion in gross bookings value by 2022. Last year, just 33 per cent of bookings were made online, the lowest online penetration in the world. However, by 2022, 44 per cent of bookings are expected to be made online.
Much of this growth is expected to come from Saudi Arabia as the country's regulations open up to e-commerce. Amit Taneja, chief business officer at Cleartrip says “The share of the Saudi travel is 20-21 per cent from pretty much nothing a couple of years back and the opening up of debit cards is a big part of that growth.”
Travelers in the region are generally taking shorter, more frequent breaks. Coupon deals and vouchers account for 32 per cent of the bookings in the UAE. Going forward, technological advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) for search results and better personalization is sure to impact the sector.