Booking through smartphones expected to increase 30% by 2015
Over 90 per cent of online travel queries in the UAE and Saudi Arabia are brand-related
Despite the strong trust online customers in the Middle East have for brands, many of them fail to optimise their sites on mobile devices and tablets to boost browsing and transactions, according to Nigel Huddleston, Industry Head of Travel at Google-UK. “There is under-investment in mobile [in the region], but that’s moving rapidly,” he said.
Consumers in the region are increasingly booking on mobile devices and tablets, according to Huddleston. Around ten per cent of hotel room bookings in the Middle East are done on smartphones and tablets. He expects that to go up 30 per cent in the next two years.
Hotel brands in particular are driving online searches. Over 90 per cent of online travel queries in the UAE and Saudi Arabia are brand-related, Huddleston said. He added that more people in the region are keen on making transactions on mobile devices due to the trust they have for brands.
However, hotels and travel agencies in the region are not investing enough in smartphones and tablets for a number of reasons. Some hesitate or do not invest in these devices because they do not receive enough bookings on these devices’ sites. “That’s because they need to optimise their sites,” Huddleston said.
Meanwhile, other companies focus on optimising the sites of the platforms consumers go to when they make transactions, he said. So if a consumer makes a transaction on a desktop, rather than a mobile device, then companies will focus on improving sites that are viewed on a desktop.
However, companies need to understand that consumers go through a number of platforms before they reach one to make a transaction- and many start with mobile devices and tablets, he said.
“Companies need to look at customers’ journey in its entirety,” Huddleston said.
The PC market is slipping, while smartphones and tablets are moving ahead, driven by a rising consumer demand. Thus, companies should be aware of consumers’ behaviour and should not underestimate the value of these devices, he said.
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