Many travel and hospitality professionals closed it doors on 2016 with a sigh of relief. Low oil prices, dramatic political changes, and unstable geo-political factors have all had a significant impact on the industry. So for many, 2017 was warmly welcomed. Here’s a look at what to expect this year.
While the UAE is renowned for it’s plethora of luxury hotels, the likes of Airbnb are going from strength to strength. Consulting firm, HVS, estimated that hotels lose approximately $450 million in direct revenues per year to AirBnb. So successful, this is a trend that is set to continue well into 2017 with The Arabian Marketer commenting that the world’s sharing economy will expand nearly 12 times, to reach USD 300 billion by 2025 as more businesses take a page from the playbooks of sharing platforms such has Airbnb, Lyft, and Uber.
The ‘on-the-go’ culture that is becoming prevalent worldwide means that information has to be bite-sized, impactful, and engaging with a strong call to action. The use of Apps by the industry has increased rapidly helping today’s traveller to navigate, check in, and explore new destinations, accommodation, and experiences. With each adult owning an average of four devices in the UAE, mobile is critical to the success of any enterprise looking to succeed in 2017.
Virtual Reality (VR)
Offering a ‘try-before-you-buy’ option, VR has become increasingly popular, as businesses such as airlines, hotels, tourism boards and waterparks integrate it into their marketing campaigns. While some would debate whether VR would be considered mainstream, its success very much depends on well-crafted, story-telling content as opposed to hard-hitting, branded sales material. A great example is Marriott International with its Travel Brilliantly campaign, which heavily focused on promoting destinations first. The chain has also pioneered VRoom Service, a first-of-its-kind guest service that allows guests to order inspiring virtual reality experiences to their rooms, created in collaboration with Samsung Electronics America.
2017 will see the industry rely more on quality data to enhance the guest experience, become more efficient, and be more targeted and relevant in their offerings. From biometric-enabled baggage solutions to cloud passports, knowledge of data processes, technology, and analysis will drive major company decisions, calling for a new type of skill set in tomorrow’s employee. The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs study predicts that 5 million jobs will be lost before 2020 as artificial intelligence, robotics, nanotechnology and other socio-economic factors replace the need for human workers. The good news is that those same technological advances will also create 2.1 million new jobs but specialized knowledge and skills will be required.
Recommendations are still a huge part of the travel and tourism industry and social media plays a huge role in influencing purchasing decisions. In 2015, the average amount of time spent on social media in the UAE was 3 hours 35 minutes. Consumers are influenced by favourite celebrities and bloggers, who have amassed a huge following through social media. Today’s traveller can also actively participate through functions such as 360-degree videos and live broadcasts such as Periscope, all of which give a new sense of immediacy. In addition, video content is still expected to dominate social media. In fact, by 2019, 80% of all Internet traffic will be to video with videos averaging 62% more engagement than photos.
As the theme for Arabian Travel Market 2017, the demand for experiential travel is a major trend influencing digital, as marketers seek to include a true taste of local culture in their content. Simon Press, Senior Exhibition Director, Arabian Travel Market said: “The Middle East has an abundance of authentic local experiences to offer from overnight stays in a stone house in remote Omani villages to Old Dubai walking tours that search out the best street food. We also want to create awareness of how to convert concepts into viable commercial realities, to broaden the appeal of Middle East destinations, increase their visitor numbers and revenues, which can support sustainable economic development.”
Karen will be moderating several sessions on the Global Stage at Arabian Travel Market 2017 including:
- Business Travel and the Sharing Economy on Tuesday 25th April, 11.00 am
- The Real Deal: Why Selling Local Experiences Matters on Tuesday 25th April, 16.20