Passengers at Dubai International airport departure at the start of holiday season Image Credit: Photo: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai:  The standard of digital experience offered by airlines, hotels and travel agents are key factors influencing booking decisions of young travelers from the UAE, a new study revealed.

According to the findings of Travelport’s Global Digital Traveler Research 2019, which surveyed 23,000 people from 20 countries said three quarters of millennial travelers in the UAE now actively consider whether an airline (77%) or hotel (76%) offers a good digital experience when making a booking.

Millennials wants round-the-clock booking information

Half of the youngsters surveyed (51%) said they get frustrated when booking information isn’t available round-the-clock on mobile devices, such as smartphones and smartwatches.

Kathryn Wallington, Head of Account Management, United Arab Emirates, at Travelport, said: “Demand for high-quality digital experiences is now exceptionally high among millennial travelers in the UAE. This shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise bearing in mind just how high the bar has been set in recent years by trailblazers in travel and other industries; as well as the fact this age group are digital natives. Today, a good digital experience should really be delivered as standard; and differentiation should be sought through excellence.”

holiday picture
Pictures Image Credit: Gulf News archive

Young travellers use voice search to manage their travel

Travelport’s study also revealed that three fifths (60%) of UAE millennials now want augmented or virtual reality experiences to help them better plan their trips. Other findings include how two thirds (69%) of millennial travelers in the UAE have used voice search to help them manage travel, with one quarter (22%) ‘nearly always’ using the technology for this. Some of the most popular questions millennial travelers in the Middle East and Africa ask their voice search capable devices relate to information about the weather at their destinations (62%) and directions to their hotel (60%).

Wallington added: “We expect the range and sophistication of questions asked through voice search to expand exponentially as more travel specific capabilities are introduced. easyJet is a great example of a company embracing voice search. The Speak Now feature on its app, developed by Travelport, will enable customers to search for flight options in a matter of seconds. And it’s not just about speed. Importantly, features like this also help make travel booking easier and more accessible for the visually impaired.”

UAE's young travellers review videos and photos

According to the study, when researching a trip, nearly all millennial travelers in the UAE (93%) have now reviewed videos and photos posted by travel brands on social media and one third (34%) ‘nearly always’ do this. Facebook is considered the most influential social media platform by millennials in the UAE.

Wallington continued: “So much content today on social media is travel related. According to Adweek, 52% of Facebook users are dreaming about holidays when on the channel, even when they aren’t planning a specific trip. This makes social media not only a fertile environment for inspiration but also an exciting channel for converting looking into booking. We’re seeing more and more companies take advantage of this.”

aircraft, aeroplane
Image Credit: Pixabay

Give me more baggage allowance and leg room, say millenials 

When booking a flight online, two fifths (42%) of millennial travels in the UAE today want to personalize their experience through add-ons like extra legroom and additional baggage allowance. However, when attempting to do so, half are currently left frustrated by not being able to understand what is included as standard (49%) and not knowing what add-ons are available to them (52%). Half (48%) also get frustrated when companies don’t remember their preferences.

Wallington concluded: “Travelers today want more control and transparency when it comes to personalizing their trips. The results of our study show the travel industry has work to do here. However, new industry standards, as well as merchandising products like Travelport’s Rich Content and Branding, are moving us firmly in the right direction. At Travelport, we will continue to accelerate developments in all these areas, and more, to help the industry keep pace with the rapidly evolving needs of the modern traveler.”

Picture used for illustrative purposes only. Image Credit: Stock Image

About the 2019 Global Digital Traveler Survey

Travelport’s Global Digital Traveler Research was developed by the company’s market intelligence team and carried out online through Toluna Research in August 2019. The research covered 20 countries and surveyed people who had taken at least two round trip flights in the last year. In total, there were 23,000 respondents, 500 of which were from the United Arab Emirates.

About Travelport

Travelport is one of the leaders in airline merchandising, hotel content and distribution, car rental, mobile commerce and B2B payment solutions. The company also provides critical IT services to airlines, such as shopping, ticketing, departure control and other solutions. With net revenue of over $2.5 billion in 2018, Travelport is headquartered in Langley, U.K., has over 3,700 employees and is represented in approximately 180 countries and territories.