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January 19, 2016

Middle East: Traveling Smart at ATM 2016

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Growth in online travel planning and booking across the region will underpin the Travel Tech Theatre focus at Arabian Travel Market 2016.
Research firm Phocuswright has forecast the Middle East's online travel market to almost double in value within the next two years, rising from US$18 billion to US$35 billion by 2018.

arabian travel market 2016“The region has seen phenomenal growth in online engagement in the last two years, transitioning from a traditional face-to-face booking model to a new virtual reality where 24/7 updated information is a basic expectation and speed of access is essential when it comes to planning, researching and booking,” said Nadege Noblet-Segers, exhibition manager at Arabian Travel Market, which takes place at the Dubai International Convention & Exhibition Centre from 25 to 28 April 2016.

According to research released by Euromonitor International, in 2014, 60 percent of airline reservations and ticketing bookings were made by Dubai-based travellers online, driven largely by a younger tech-smart generation for whom online and mobile technology is the preferred booking channel.

Looking at the wider regional picture, 46 percent of airline tickets in the UAE are booked online, followed by Kuwait (34 percent) Saudi Arabia (23 percent), Lebanon (18 percent) and Egypt (12 percent).

About 50 percent of the UAE population rely on the internet as the first port of call when planning or purchasing travel-related products, and the rising use of mobile technology is also supporting online trends, with 50 percent of travellers from the UAE and 35 percent from Saudi Arabia leading the region in using their smartphones to make travel arrangements.

By the end of 2017, according to a joint study conducted by Travelport and Phocuswright, online travel bookings, which currently account for 25 percent of all bookings in the Middle East, will rise to 36 percent.

“Airlines and hotels are the acknowledged market leaders when it comes to highly effective online marketing and consumer engagement, and this is an area where all industry players needs to ensure that they look at increasing market share and awareness through a blend of creative messaging teamed with ongoing technology investment, especially when it comes to mobile applications,” said Noblet-Segers.

A key area of annual growth, the travel technology area of the exhibition floor was launched as The Travel Tech Show at ATM in 2015. With this renewed focus it grew 38 percent in 2015 and for 2016 will cover over 1,500 square metres - a 68 percent increase on 2014 figures.

To date, 51 exhibitors are already confirmed, including first-time participants Travelbook, iWeen Software Solutions and ChatSim and Plug In Travel, as well as returning exhibitors such as Amadeus, Travelport, Digital Trip, IATI and TravelClick.

Organiser Reed Travel Exhibitions brings back its Best Stand Awards initiative.

Launched in 2015, the five categories this year cover Best Stand Design, Best Stand for Doing Business, Best Stand Personnel, Best Stand Feature and Best Stand within the Travel Tech Show at ATM.

Judging will take place on April 26 with the winners unveiled on the show floor the following day.

“Last year’s inaugural awards were extremely well received by our exhibitors and we are looking forward to seeing new ideas and even more creativity on the show floor this year. These awards reflect the huge effort, investment and thought that goes into creating and manning exhibitor space that is a microcosm of a brand,” said Noblet-Segers.

 “With more than 412 stands of all shapes and sizes spread across 10 exhibition halls covering the full spectrum of the industry, from travel tech companies, cruise operators and spa and wellness resorts to international destinations, corporate hotel groups, airlines and car rental companies, our judging panel has a lot of ground to cover.

The judging criteria for the Best Stand Design award will focus on identifying an eye-catching stand that has an unusual/creative design, and makes the best use of available space. It also needs to look inviting from a visitor perspective and have outstanding presence in the halls, attracting high levels of visitor traffic.

“It’s not only about the aesthetics of a stand. The award for Best Stand Personnel is extremely important, hospitality is a ‘people’ business after all,” remarked Noblet.

Standout design will also be recognised with the Best Stand Feature award, which will recognise the stand with the most visual impact and good use of features to showcase cultural characteristics and draw in visitors.

For more information on Arabian Travel Market 2016, visit www.arabiantravelmarket.com

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