Travel intent in the Middle East across the domestic and overseas market is strong, with business travel tending towards half as popular, said BVA BDRC, an international consumer and business insight consultancy, in a new report.
Baby boomers in the Middle East are leading the region’s domestic leisure market, having made over 12 trips in the past two years, according to the latest Hotel Guest Survey.
The study found that 63% of leisure guests had already booked an overseas stay, or were highly likely to, with 82% of the domestic market also looking at a break Beach and resort destinations were favoured, with comfortable, well equipped rooms driving bookings for travellers.
James Bland, director, BVA BDRC, said: “Demand for travel as we come out of the pandemic is booming and consumers, particularly those with time and money to spend, are looking forward to their beach trips.”
Business travellers are lagging behind in their intentions, although are still more likely to hit the road than many of the regions we cover globally. There has been extensive investment in travel and tourism in the region in recent years and this is now bearing fruit.
The domestic leisure market remained popular during the pandemic, with an average of 6.1 leisure trips taken over the past two years, against 5.3 overseas leisure trips.
Bland said: “Prior to the pandemic, countries across the Middle East had invested in turning their economies away from reliance on oil and towards travel and tourism. With new attractions and destinations and a growing infrastructure, the benefits can be seen in the growth in travel intentions recorded here.”
The online travel agents have maintained their dominance when assessing best rate perception, with 45% of guests believing that they offered the best price, against hotels own websites, where best rate perception has fallen over the past two years, from 27% to 22%.
Preferred booking channels were closely split, with 52% of respondents preferring hotel brand sites for business trips, while the 48% of leisure travellers looked to all other booking sites instead.
Hilton Hotels Resorts held the brand advantage in the market, followed by Sheraton. Holiday Inn Express was most favoured in the economy tier, with Holiday Inn leading the mid-market, Hilton Hotels Resort in the upper full-service tier and InterContinental in luxury.
Both business and leisure travellers were looking for comfortable, well-equipped rooms where they could relax, with those travelling for leisure with children most motivated by entertainment and facilities for children on site.
When looking at NPS and likelihood to recommend, in terms of bran ds used by respondents over the last 24 months, Four Seasons was the most favoured flag. For loyalty over any timescale, with the proportion of users citing the brand as first or second choice for any trip type, Tulip Inn led the economy segment, with Rama da in the mid-market, Hilton Hotels Resorts in the upper full-service tier Four Seasons in luxury and Airbnb was the only brand to feature in homestays.
Bland said: “The leisure guest has continued to see the OTAs as the most likely home of the best rate, with the hotels own booking sites failing to make up much ground during the pandemic.”
Once the business traveller starts to return, the brands will once again be able to flex their loyalty programmes, but until then, owners will find themselves paying higher commissions to the OTAs and may start to question the amount of business being bought in by the flags.
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