Tech-focused seminars return to highlight latest innovations and digital insight from global trendsetters - research reveals that one in six consumers in the region uses the Internet as their preferred booking platform
The Arabian Travel Market (ATM) Travel Technology Theatre returns once again this year, as the region’s young tech-savvy generation and worldwide developments in the digital travel field open up new areas of IT-related opportunity and education for the industry.
According to IT giant Cisco, mobile data traffic in the Middle East & Africa region will grow faster than in any other part of the world between now and 2018, with penetration of smartphones and tablets using the latest technology forecast to reach 598 million devices within the next four years, up from just 133 million in 2013. One in six consumers in the region is also now using the Internet as the booking platform of choice according to hotelmarketing.com, with the distinctive needs of digitally engaged travellers across the Middle East demanding a tailor-made approach from travel providers.
“Around 60% of airline booking and ticketing in Dubai alone comes from e-commerce and with youth accounting for 60% of the GCC population the need for the tourism industry in the region to be at the forefront of digital development and connectivity is a given. Our Sabre Travel Technology Theatre line-up for 2014 is a ‘how to’ guide to grow your online business, connect with the trendsetters and effectively measure ROI,” said Mark Walsh, Portfolio Director, Reed Travel Exhibitions.
Data released by PhoCusWright in 2013 revealed that online travel agency sales in the Middle East hit US$ 2.3 billion last year, and this figure is expected to jump by 4% to 17% by the end of 2014. The GCC countries are also leading the pack in terms of social media activity, with 94% or 56 million MENA region users on Facebook and Twitter generating around 10 million Tweets per day with over 3.7 million users.
“With the Travel Technology Theatre now in its third year and an established calendar feature, our tie-up with Sabre, an established global leader in this field, and the fact that we will welcome a record 72 travel technology-specific exhibitors to ATM, demonstrates the influence of online technology on all aspects of the travel cycle from planning and booking to recording memories and sharing experiences,” remarked Walsh.
Sponsored by Sabre, the technology solutions provider to the global travel and tourism industry, this year’s Travel Technology Theatre series covers 16 exciting sessions and will open on Monday 5th May with a session on ‘Mobile in Travel’ where some of the best minds in the industry have been drafted in to speak including Ian Humphreys, Regional Director Middle East, Caliber Interactive and Dan Cross, Territory Manager MEA for TripAdvisor.
Other highlights include a keynote from the Managing Director of Travelzoo Europe, hints and tips for building your brand online, a guide to finding and working with good travel bloggers, as well as an edge-of-your-seat digital debate on ‘The Impact of Mobile in Travel’ held in co-operation with the Digital Tourism Think Tank.
“Keeping it mobile seems to be the overriding theme, whether that means a session on how travelers are using mobile and lessons for successful mobile advertising, which will be led by Google Industry Manager – Travel MENA, Kara Moddermann, or interactive participation in a number of sessions focusing on the latest technological advances and trends in digital consumer behaviour,” said Walsh.
Speakers include Vikram Singh, Co-Founder, Madbooker, on optimisimg your direct revenue and building your brand online; Laurel Robbins, social media consultant and award-winning travel blogger; Paul Richer, Senior Partner, Genesys – The Travel Technology Consultancy on travel technology trends and staying ahead of the competition; Alana Witte, Director, Middle East & Africa, Revinate, who will address engaging and satisfying the needs of next generation guests; and Oliver Blofeld, Managing Partner, Insight, with a session looking at ways to use social media as a tool to communicate effectively and engage with audiences by listening to them and responding to them.