It has been an absolute privilege today to take part as the moderator in the launch of a landmark study and event organised by Amadeus. Their new report on the Future of Travel in the GCC is undoubtedly one of the best ever and most important travel industry related reports conducted in the region.
Drawing on the expertise of industry leaders across 22 travel brands and insights from over 1,000 end travellers this report describes the key effects that will shape the future of travel for this exciting and important part of the world.
The headline “Big Effect” is that rapidly changing demographics will fuel a major shift in GCC travel over next 15 years. The coming-of-age of the GCC’s youthful population will reshape the travel industry in the region over the next fifteen years, as digital natives instinctively turn to mobile technologies and social media to plan, book and manage travel.
Today, nearly 25% of the GCC population is under 15 years of age, and as this demographic becomes tomorrow’s decision makers, it will shake up traditional behaviours to become increasingly self-directed. As outlined in the Amadeus-commissioned new report, Shaping the Future of Travel in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC): Big Travel Effects, additional unfolding demographic forces such as a steady inflow of expatriate workers, robust natural population growth and a growing middle class, will combine to drive a new and divergent set of travel behaviours and needs in the region.
The report, written by Frost & Sullivan and Insights and commissioned by Amadeus, examines and contextualises the various ways a new travel landscape will develop in the Gulf region over the next fifteen years.
“The Gulf region is poised for a new era of travel as investment in infrastructure, new tourism sectors, and governmental initiatives to ease intra- and extra-regional movement make the GCC more attractive to leisure and business travellers,” said Antoine Medawar, Vice President, MENA, Amadeus. He added, “The travel providers who address the nuanced needs of the region’s population stand to thrive in the coming decades. At Amadeus our people, our technology and our innovation are dedicated to helping our customers and partners to shape the future of travel in this region.”
Further key findings include:
Economies in the GCC are diversifying beyond oil, and specialist tourism sectors such as cruise, meetings and conferences and medical tourism play a prominent role in this diversification. As a result, GCC countries have maintained an average GDP growth of over 5% in the past decade, with a greater increase expected in the future.
Tourism will have a trickle-down effect into other sectors, furthering economic growth and diversification. Hospitality and construction in particular will benefit as the number of travellers entering or passing through the region increases -Qatar expects 3.7 million tourists in 2022 due to the FIFA World Cup and is investing $20 billion on tourism infrastructure and $140 billion on transport.
The GCC is working to make travel easier, both within the region and outbound. The difficulty of obtaining a visa has been the main reason for 33% of travellers surveyed not taking trips as often as they would like. By improving accessibility within the region and abroad, the number of intra-regional travellers is expected to increase four-fold by 2030.
“Travel in the Gulf region is changing. Economic diversification and a move from oil is an important driver, but there are many more subtle factors also at play. Changes in population and geopolitical pressure to open borders and make movement easier are also impacting the future of travel here,” observed Mona Faraj, Managing Partner, Insights.
The report was informed by a survey of some 1,000 travellers from the region as well as interviews with thought leaders in the travel industry. It highlights the technologically savvy and growing population of the GCC and predicts a travel landscape will develop in the region that is highly connected, personalised, and sustainable.
To download a free copy of the report “Shaping the future of Travel in the GCC: Big Travel Effects” please visit:
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Facebook has ambitious plans to connect the two-thirds of the world that has no net access, using drones, satellites and lasers.
The move was announced on the social media platform by founder Mark Zuckerberg.
It will put it in direct competition with Google, which is planning to deliver net access via balloons.
Both of the net giants want to extend their audiences, especially in the developing world.
Details about Facebook’s plan were scant but it will include a fleet of solar-powered drones as well as low-earth orbit and geosynchronous satellites. Invisible, infrared laser beams could also be used to boost the speed of the net connections.
Last year Facebook and other technology companies launched internet.org to help bring net access to the huge swathes of the globe that are still not connected.
The social network has already teamed up with telecoms operators in the Philippines and Paraguay to double the number of people using the internet in that region.
“We’re going to continue building these partnerships, but connecting the whole world will require inventing new technology too,” Mr Zuckerberg said in his post.
To bring the project to fruition, Facebook has set up a Connectivity Lab that will include experts in aerospace and communication technology, from Nasa’s jet propulsion lab and its Ames research centre.
It has also hired a five-member team that worked at British firm Ascenta, whose founders developed the Zephyr, which holds the record for the longest-flying solar-powered unmanned aircraft.
Earlier this month there were rumours that the social network was interested in buying drone-maker Titan but there was no mention of this in the announcement.
The plans form part of Facebook’s ambitions to extend its reach beyond its 1.2 billion audience, thinks Ovum analyst Mark Little.
“Zuckerberg is pushing this as an altruistic way of connecting more people in the world – the net as a basic human right – but by increasing the total of net connections it also increases Facebook’s members and the amount of sharing done, which in turn creates more space for advertising and drives its revenues in a massive way.”
Last year Google announced similar plans to develop solar-powered balloons to deliver net access to remote areas of the world.
Code-named Project Loon, 30 of the super-pressure balloons were launched in New Zealand in June.
“It is perhaps aptly named,” said Mr Little.
“It is going to have a lot of political hoops to jump through. Some governments won’t put up with having that fleet over their airspace.”
Mr Little thinks that for both Facebook and Google, the technology in their projects may prove to be “the easy bit” and that the real challenge will lie in persuading governments around the world that its alternative networks are viable.
International tourist numbers surged to nearly 1.1 billion in 2013 with growth in the Asia-Pacific region leading the industry to a strong year despite global economic troubles, the World Tourism Organisation says.The number of international tourist arrivals grew by five per cent from the previous year to 1.09 billion in 2013, said the Madrid-based UN body.That figure is expected to grow again by 4.0-4.5 per cent in 2014, the organisation said in a report.Tourist arrivals rose at the fastest rate in the Asia-Pacific, where numbers were up by six per cent to 248 million, it said.Europe, however, remained the biggest destination, with international tourist arrivals up five per cent to 563 million.Among countries of origin, Chinese tourists – already leading the way with expenditure of $US102 billion $A116.59 billion in 2012 – pushed up total spending by 28 per cent in the first nine months of 2013, the UN body said.Tourists from Russia, the fifth largest country of origin of international tourists, drove up spending by 26 per cent in the same period, it said.
Tui Travel is to launch its biggest ever turn-of-year advertising campaign for Thomson and First Choice, with TV ads set to air pre and post-Christmas.
The First Choice ad goes live on December 23 while the Thomson ads start on December 27 in a deliberate bid to differentiate the brands.
At two minutes, the Thomson ad is its longest ever and is, in effect, a mini film using special effects seen in Hollywood blockbuster Pirates of the Caribbean.
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It’s no secret that China represents a big opportunity for global travel and tourism companies. What’s not yet widely understood is how enormous that opportunity is—and how easily it could be lost if travel and tourism providers don’t grasp the dynamics now to reshape the market for tourism inside and outside China.
Consider these two snippets that hint at those market dynamics: between now and 2030, two of China’s fastest-growing tourist segments will be traveling without organized tour groups. And eight of Chinese tourists’ ten most desired destinations in the near future are far outside of Asia. Their top “dream” vacation spots range from Australia and New Zealand to the U.K. and Italy.
These are just two of the many important findings in Winning the Next Billion Asian Travelers— Starting with China, the most recent report on the travel and tourism industry from The Boston Consulting Group. Coauthored with TripAdvisor, the world’s largest travel website, the report sheds light on everything from the breathtaking speed with which China’s tourists are packing their bags for leisure travel to the extent to which they are willing to trade up to more expensive rooms and other services.
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The Travel Marketing Store recognised the efforts of Skift by awarding them the 2013 Travel Marketing Excellence Award for Marketing Science. They are certainly living up to their reputation and are establishing a new global standard. This is the latest from their CEO Rafat Ali.
“We’ve always envisioned Skift as the global intelligence platform for travel, and as we end November as the most visited travel industry site globally — just 15 months after launch — we’re unveiling the next step in our evolution: SkiftIQ, our data brand. SkiftIQ is a competitive intelligence service, built around digital metrics that matter to brands in travel.
Think of it as the dashboard for smart travel marketers.
Version 1.0, launching today, starts with social metrics that keep you ahead of the travel industry. Competitive metrics on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube — cutting through the noise, organizing the social data you need, and delivering actionable insights.
With SkiftIQ, you’ll be able see why American Airlines is so effective on Twitter, Tourism Australia is so successful on Facebook, and National Geographic Traveler dominates on Instagram. These metrics aren’t just illustrative, they’ll also help travel experts make smarter decisions about their own social strategy.”
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Nishma Robb, chief client and marketing office for iProspect, said the industry had not yet got to grips with content marketing, but that huge opportunities lay ahead for those quick to react.
At the Travolution Summit in London, Robb cited examples from the fashion and cosmetics industries where companies, such as Dove and Asos, had used storytelling to target specific audiences. They used a mixture of entertainment, information and education to draw shoppers to their websites and turn them into buyers. Robb said the travel industry’s inactivity in this field caused her great frustration.
“In other sectors I’ve seen conversion rates improve, and it saddens me because I haven’t seen it in the travel industry. Most of our businesses only have the opportunity to speak [to a customer] once a year – that’s why content is so important.”
The latest Travel Marketing Digest is now available to read.
Groupon Blinks, Airline Ancillary Revenues Double, Via Milano – innovation in airport connections, Wearable Technologies and Travel, Starwood on the Future of Hotels, Skift on Middle Eastern Airlines & Twitter, IATA Airlines Stats
via Groupon Blinks, Airline Ancillary Revenues Double, Via Milano – innovation in airport connections, Wearable Technologies and Travel, Starwood on the Future of Hotels, Skift on Middle Eastern Airlines & Twitter, IATA Airlines Stats.
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