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Middle East travel – online agencies need to keep up

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Experts say that 50 per cent of users will leave an online travel site if it takes longer than four seconds to load

April 11, 2013 1:19 by



The Middle East, when compared to all other regions, is really lagging behind when it comes to online penetration – although it is emerging at a positive rate, according to Mona Faraj, Managing Partner of Insights Management Consultancy and Middle East Market Analyst, PhoCusWright.

The statement was made during an ‘industry-shaping’ discussion held by Amadeus – a technological provider of advanced solutions for the global travel industry – in an attempt to answer one important question. Does the Middle East have a globally competitive online travel sector? Naturally, during the discussion we talked about the disparities that exist in the market, but in a nutshell; if online travel sites don’t keep up with technology, security and marketing, they will disappear.

Amadeus research shows that an average traveller visits approximately 26 different websites before actually making a purchase. Ahmed Youssef, regional director of marketing and operations at the company, says it’s really not about converting everyone from offline to online – but more about maintaining a balanced hybrid. When it comes to keeping up with technology, the last thing an online travel site needs to do is cut corners.

The region is on its way, but it’s certainly not there yet, and online travel platforms need to quickly adopt both competitive strategies and keep up with technological upgrades if they want to experience any kind of boost. Currently the online travel market in the region is worth $8.6 billion – which sounds like an impressive figure – except that it really only makes up about 15 per cent of the total empire. In more mature markets, such as Europe, that figure could easily hit 40 per cent.

There’s still the lingering lack-of-trust factor when it comes to the region’s e-commerce industry – which can certainly explain why the online travel sector makes up less than 20 per cent of the entire industry. There is a perception that online purchases lack proper security in the region and as the experts say, this perception needs to be changed.



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