Dubai: ClearTrip have targeted to reach a million downloads of their mobile application by the end of the year, Tarique Khatri, Senior Vice- President Business Development at the online and mobile travel site said.

Speaking at The Global Travel Marketing Forum in Dubai on Wednesday, Khatri told Gulf News the company had significant growth in mobile application downloads.

“We’re very bullish on this and have seen half a million downloads already with just the one product,” he said.

ClearTrip launched their mobile application in July 2013 on the iPhone application store and followed with launches on other platforms. Khatri said the ClearTrip application had been downloaded 500,000 thousands since its launch.

Despite significant downloads the mobile application makes up just 10 per cent of travel bookings made through ClearTrip with users still predominantly choosing to book online. Khatri said that ClearTrip would like to see mobile application bookings increase to 25 per cent.

Khatri said that online bookings were continuing to increase and that travellers had already began booking their Christmas and end of year holidays through ClearTrip. He said that low cost carrier bookings were increasing in a market that was previously dominated by full service carriers.

“There is a shift happening where we see 25–30 per cent of bookings are now made on low cost carriers,” he said.

In recent months ClearTrip has noticed an increase in white collar customers including management and senior management booking through their website and application. Khatri said ClearTrip had also seen a lot of Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) companies using their service for unmanaged business travel

Another trend emerging as the year comes to an end is a significant reduction in air fares. Khatri said one reason for the airlines to be aggressively competing on price was of excess capacity of selected routes and pressure to maintain strong year-to-date growth.

Khatri demonstrated on his smartphone through the ClearTrip application. He searched a Dubai-to-London return flight over the December — January period and found a Dh2,500 airfare. He said airfares on this route could cost as much has Dh3,500 – Dh4,000 on this route over this period depending on demand.

Scott Booth, Associate Research Director at market research agency YouGov, said online engagement was still a lot more entrenched globally than it was in the region. Booth said that there is an increasing demand for mobile interaction with customers.

Increasing demand has led travel and tourism customers to rethink their strategy on how to target consumers. Booth said that consumers increasingly wanted tailored content that was easy, seamless, effortless and but involved little to no cost. He said that consumer trends meant that customers wanted to receive push notifications to create a richer travel experience that was relevant to them.

One of the many topics discussed at The Global Travel Marketing Forum was the acceptance of digital technology. Branding is one companies are able to build the profile of their services however in a multi-lingual region such as the Middle East it is important offer content in a variety of languages.

Dan Cross, Territory Manager – Middle East and Africa at travel website TripAdvisor, said the global economic crisis forced the UAE to rapidly catch up with the rest of the world in online technology usage. He said that it previously was not fully ultisied like it was in other countries.

Since the crisis companies have had to adapt to a completely new sales channel, Cross who previously worked in the online travel agency (OTA) industry, said.

For TripAdvisor in the Middle East and Africa it is more educating companies in the travel and tourism industry on how travel website can contribute to their business, he said, because more often than not a lot of travellers — business or leisure — will look to TripAdvisor before making a booking.

Cross said that TripAdvisor has with two mobile applications it has had 36 million download globally. He said that its website receives a contribution a second from all over the world and of the 200 million clicks its gets each month, 62 million come from its apps.