Al Tayyar outlines plans for UAE online travel services
Saudi Arabia’s Al Tayyar Travel Group aims to introduce online services in the Emirates by the end of the year as part of its expansion plans and grab a share of the growing travel market.
Currently, its online services are focused on its home market.
“Only a small percentage of our bookings – 1 to 2 per cent – comes through online, but Saudi Arabia is a traditional market,” said Francis Dharmai, the regional general manager for Gulf Al Tayyar Travel Group. “In the UAE we are introducing the services as part of our expansion strategy and also, online is the way forward if we want to compete here.”
It has invested 15 million Saudi riyals (Dh14.6m) since 2008 in booking processing technology. At the Arabian Travel Market in Dubai, Al Tayyar signed a deal with the travel technology provider Sabre Travel Network Middle East.
Earlier this week, Al Futtaim Travel launched its online reservation platform getmytrip.ae for flights, hotels, travel insurance, and bus and ferry tickets in India and the Philippines.
The UAE’s online travel market is expected to reach US$9.5 billion this year from $4.8bn in 2011, according to a PhocusWright report commissioned by the travel technology provider Amadeus.
Meanwhile, the overall online travel segment in the Middle East will have more than doubled to $15.8bn this year from $6.3bn in 2010, the report added.
“The top markets in the digital world are Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE,” said Ernesto Sanchez Beaumont, the head of commercial strategy and business management at Amadeus.
“In 2000, we were investing more in airline solutions, now it is more on airport IT and hotel IT platforms.”
Among the new tools it is developing for travel agents include those that will help them analyse data to forecast trends and growth areas.
The UAE has about 10 online-only travel sites, including Booking.com, Expedia, Musafir and Makemytrip.com. In the UAE, where there are a few thousand travel agents with a brick and mortar presence, only 50 or so have an online presence.
Hotels.com, which gives consumers access to 260,000 properties worldwide, has experienced “triple digit growth” in the first quarter in the Gulf as against the same period the previous year, according to Michael Korkia, the marketing manager at Hotels.com.
“In the UAE, slightly under 50 per cent of the bookings come through mobile devices,” he said. “Middle East customers are getting internet savvy, they are using more and more mobile devices, and becoming more independent in their [travel] choices.”
Hotels.com’s top market for its English website in the Middle East is the UAE, while for the Arabic market it is Saudi Arabia.
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Published: May 6, 2014 04:00 AM