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‘Next-generation traveller will be connected, mobile and social’
Vice-president of Amadeus MENA elaborates what this notion means for the travel industry
May 11, 2014 9:53 by Nasreen Rasool
A new kind of traveller is emerging, one that is connected, mobile and social. Travel companies need to be aware of this and keep up to date with the technologies they use to appeal to this new segment, according to vice-president of global travel tech provider Amadeus MENA, Antoine Medawar.
Speaking exclusively to Kippreport.com, Medawar explains that this category of travellers include 15 to 30 year olds. “They have a different behaviour and very different mindset. They are always connected. They want immediate solutions and are very much online. They won’t call a travel agency and very few understand how a travel agency works. They will rather search via a phone or mobile app and then they will eventually book or choose not to,” he says.
“The first thing to consider when talking about the next generation is internet penetration. The worldwide average for internet penetration is approximately 35 per cent. In the Middle East region, it is more than 50 per cent. In the whole of the UAE, it is more than 70 per cent.”
According to Medawar, this new generation travels based on information they get through social media. “They will go to trip advisors and Facebook to check where their friends are going and what was the experiences of their peers were. They select places to visit and hotels based on what other people have done,” he adds.
While the emergence of a tech-savvy youth segment is nothing new, Medawar says it is getting stronger now because the new generation is making money. “Up till now, they had to ask their parents’ permission and maybe travelled as a family, but now they are working and have the power to buy things,” he says.
When asked about possible safety concerns for young people travelling alone, Medawar points out that security has little to do with technology, except for tracking devices. “The question most parents or guardians will have is ‘where are you now?’ In addition to mobile phone tracking services, technology also allows us to push out information about flight cancellations and can allow us to reschedule hotel bookings,” he says, adding that: “The youth are is making use of these applications, I don’t think [youngsters] are doing anything else.”
Commenting on the way forward for the travel industry, Medawar says: “It is not at the level of the 2007 financial crisis, but it is really recovering fast. Travel and trade will evolve fast because of the new generation of travellers coming into the market. Young people from all countries need to book flights, hotels and restaurants and visit points of interest, so it’s definitely growing.
“The Middle East region is growing two times faster than the others, because the demography is younger […]. Also, there is less of an admin barrier; an Emirati can go to London without visa, for example. The geographical positioning of the GCC region is another factor. The Middle East region is between Europe and Asia, so people will use Dubai or Doha more when going to Europe.”
He adds that Dubai is unique in its appeal to travellers because of the experience it offers beyond the airport hub. “People don’t use Dubai as a hub only. People are encouraged to stay for at least one night. It’s not a cheap destination, no doubt, but it is getting more important for tourists. This is why the capacities for hotels are growing, and [the construction] two- and three-star hotels are also being encouraged. People would like to travel and stay in a decent room,” says Medawar.
According to the latest findings of a report by Oxford Economics, which was commissioned by Amadeus, the Mena region is expected to experience visitor growth of 11.9 per cent per annum over the next decade.