5 Online Travel Agents shaping the travel industry in the Middle East – Part II

In the first part of article (See Here) I mentioned two top performing online travel sales channels in the Middle East. In this part I’ve discussed three other channels that come in top five list and shaping the travel industry in the Middle East.

Increase number of smartphone adoption, growing middle class and millenials getting online- these factors are creating more opportunities for travel agents to adapt new strategy to reach out new age customers. Agoda, a Priceline company is one of the most popular online travel agency in the Middle East.  According to a recent report by Skift, Agoda receives total 30.7 million unique visitors per month to its website of which majority of traffic comes from APAC and ME. The channel is gaining preference as a leading site among Middle-East bookers by adding inventory, enhancing mobile functionality and localizing content. Agoda has listed 1,211 properties in its website out of which 846 for Dubai only.

Agoda home page screen

India based Cleartrip launched in the Middle East in 2011 with a $10 million investment and has become a key channel since its inception. Here travelers are more comfortable with the idea of booking online. Due to increase of smartphones and more online travel brands coming into the market, educated travelers comfortable with modern technology are visiting OTAs for travel arrangements rather going to traditional travel agents. Cleartrip which is new in this region has impressively acquired a large customer base, especially millennial travelers. Over 113,000 hotels worldwide are currently connected to Cleartrip and receives over 6 million unique visitors per month, while growing at 30% year-on-year. Quarterly Mobile Insight for Q4’ 2014 of Cleartrip shows over 53% of the total traffic emanates from the mobile channels overshadowing the desktop channel and over 70% customers use mobile as their only channel for transactions.  The more interesting fact is 15% of Cleartrip’s bookings in the Middle East and 25% of searches come from mobile as customers seem more confident of booking on mobile than on the website.

Online commerce in the Middle East is still in the early stages of development, but the region’s travel industry is growing fast, both online and offline. Online travel sales in Middle East in 2013 were US$ 2.3 billion which grew at whooping 17% last year. AsiaRoom is largely focus on the APAC and Middle East and provide destinations in the premium location Singapore, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok and Dubai for quick booking. AsiaRooms operates in approximately 180 countries, serving more than 30 million customers in over 20 source markets.

Middle East travel region is one of the fastest growing travel markets in the world- this gives a bigger scope to the online travel agents to reach out to the large consumer base. Although, new online booking channels are heavily investing in the region still a large number of travelers rely on the 6,000 existing traditional travel agents. As the Middle East is a diverse and complex market with unique online benefits and challenges hoteliers need to manage their rates and availability on regular basis with sophisticated channel manager like RateTiger. Contact us today if you want to connect with these channels or want a platform to manage these channels smartly.

Hisham Diab is Sales Manager, MEA/ Africa/ Turkey at eRevMax. He can be reached at hishamd@erevmax.com

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