Almost Two-Thirds of Middle Eastern Adults Would Pay Between $101 – $500 Extra for a ‘Personalized’ Travel Experience, Sabre Research Reveals

A man pulling a suitcase
Middle East Travel Trends Report

Report highlights significant retail opportunity for travel companies across the spectrum

New online research by  Sabre Corporation (NASDAQ: SABR), the leading global travel technology provider, has revealed that 59% percent of Middle Eastern adults would pay between $101 – $500 on extras that personalize their travel journeys. The report also provided insight into the pain points, trends and opportunities for the Middle Eastern travel industry.

The ancillary retail opportunity

The research highlighted a significant retail opportunity for travel providers of the 3,090 people surveyed, where 52% would be prepared to spend between $101 – $500 on top of the basic costs for a customized experience if they were to purchase flight or hotel accommodation abroad. For airlines, this is significantly higher than the current $21 per passenger spend on ancillaries (CarTrawler 2018 – based on IATA data).

“To align with today’s travelers, airlines, hotels, travel agencies and even corporate buyers must think and behave like true retailers,” said Salman Syed, vice president EMEA at Sabre. “They need to analyze consumer behavior and market data to better target future offers and fulfill as many traveler’s needs as possible.  By using intelligent retailing to provide what travelers want, anywhere, anytime on the device they wish, travel providers can tap into this huge ancillary opportunity, driving increased revenue and improving customer experience to increase loyalty.”

Demand for personalization

Consumer expectations and shopping behaviors are becoming more sophisticated, driven by a high level of technology and personalized experiences. The travel industry is no different, and personalization is becoming a demand rather than an expectation. Sabre’s research showed that 43% of the Middle Eastern adults want personalized travel offerings and services around their needs, expectations and previous experiences.

When thinking about what this personalization looks like, the majority (40%) of those surveyed wanted recommendations based on their budget, while 30% wanted suggestions of holiday extras that would be of genuine interest to them when asked what they would want airlines to do for them in the next 5 years.

In addition to providing a tailormade experience for travelers, the research showed additional benefits of personalization for travel providers. 40% surveyed said that they would be more loyal to an airline or a hotel in return for a personalized service, while 27% would also be willing to share personal data (date of birth, social media friends list) for this. This highlights a need for travel providers to invest in data-harnessing technology to help understand each traveler’s individual needs, offering each person a customized experience in the right context at the right time.

Mobile and online travel

Sabre’s report showed a significant opportunity within the online travel space in the Middle East, as 48% of those surveyed would look online for travel inspiration for flights or hotels, which may also be to validate pricing. However, when it came to purchase, 35% citied reasons such as insecurity around online payments and a lack of trust in online pricing (29%).

“This suggests that there is a great opportunity for mobile and online travel, if suppliers can deploy the right technology and security measures, and thereby increase trust amongst customers,” continued Syed. “Retailers need to be where travelers are – online and mobile – and must adopt a seamless, multi-channel sales strategy.”

The study, which compiled insights from 3090 people online across five countries in the Middle East (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, Jordan and Lebanon) was revealed at Sabre Space Jordan, an industry event that brought together experts and leaders from airlines, travel agencies and government officials from across the Middle East to network and learn about the latest travel and technology trends.

For more insights, you can download the full report here.

About Sabre Corporation
Sabre Corporation is the leading technology provider to the global travel industry. Sabre's software, data, mobile and distribution solutions are used by hundreds of airlines and thousands of hotel properties to manage critical operations, including passenger and guest reservations, revenue management, flight, network and crew management. Sabre also operates a leading global travel marketplace, which processes more than US$120 billion of global travel spend annually by connecting travel buyers and suppliers. Headquartered in Southlake, Texas, USA, Sabre serves customers in more than 160 countries around the world.

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 3090 adults in Lebanon, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait. Fieldwork was undertaken between 7th – 18th October 2019.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of the online population and have been given an even weighting for each country to produce an “average” value.

Media Contact:
Fatin Said
Fatin.Said@sabre.com