A high-profile technology summit hosted by Travelport in Istanbul recently united more than 150 travel industry experts and thought leaders from airlines, hotels and travel agency leaders spanning the Middle East.
Tourism entities came together to investigate the role of technology in shaping the increasingly competitive $72 billion Middle East travel industry.
Over the coming five years, the Middle East’s travel industry is expected to grow significantly. Online travel bookings, which represent 25 per cent of all bookings in the Middle East, are forecast to grow in 2015 and 2016 to reach 36 per cent by the end of 2017, when online revenue is expected to reach $35 billion. Offline sales are forecast to continue to grow from $54 billion in 2014 to $63 billion in 2017.
Throughout the recently concluded technology summit, industry experts addressed how technology is facilitating trends and driving advancements across the Middle East’s ever-developing travel industry in the fields of travel payments, hospitality, airline merchandising and travel mobile technology.
President and managing director – Africa, Middle East and South Asia, Travelport, Rabih Saab remarked: “Given the ever changing and rapid paced environment of the travel industry, it is paramount for those part of it to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to how technology is redefining the industry. Current trends such as airlines increasingly driving business growth through differentiation of their product offerings and the strong emergence of hybrid travel agents in the Middle East – those whose transactions take place online and offline – are shaping the industry, and technology is redefining the platform to support and fuel these trends.”
Speakers at the event included industry innovators from mobile travel technology player, MTT, and eNett, provider of secure virtual payment solutions.
Research has highlighted there is a great potential for a mobile breakthrough in the Middle East. Airlines and hotel focused online travel agents have had the most success with online mobile bookings to date, but only four per cent of all online travel transaction revenues in the Middle East are completed on a mobile device.
Concluding, Saab remarked: “Sophisticated technologies in mobile technology products for airlines and travel agencies to translate their mobile vision into reality and instil confidence in Middle East consumers to make online travel transactions, will be a key success factor for industry leaders.”