SOURCE: Market Metrix

June 16, 2008 09:00 ET

Travelers Headed to the Middle East Currently Use Online Bookings Less Often Than Global Average, According to Market Metrix Hospitality Index (MMHI)

Eye for Travel's "Online Travel Distribution Middle East Conference" June 17-18 in Dubai Will Explore E-Commerce Opportunities in This Complex Region

SAN RAFAEL, CA--(Marketwire - June 16, 2008) - A booming Middle Eastern travel industry coupled with lower than average use of online booking services indicates massive opportunities for e-commerce in the region. According to the Market Metrix Hospitality Index (MMHI), the rate of online bookings for travelers to the Middle East is 20% lower than the global average. As the Eye for Travel conference in Dubai kicks off this week, hoteliers and travel executives from around that region are gathering to learn how to leverage the expected expansion of online travel services in the Middle East.

"Amid stagnating world markets, the Middle East is one of the global hotspots for the hotel industry. That growth is strongest in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates where there are aggressive expansion plans, new brand launches, soaring revenues and rates, mega projects and more," according to Dr. Jonathan Barsky, MMHI researcher and co-founder of Market Metrix, who writes about Middle Eastern travel trends for an upcoming edition of Hotel & Motel Management. Widely known throughout North America as the largest, most in-depth comparison of hospitality brands in the industry, the MMHI includes regional results for major hotels internationally, including the Middle East.

"With the whole Middle Eastern travel industry booming, online activity in travel is beginning to grow within the region. Increasing numbers of inbound travellers are attracted by work opportunities, guaranteed sun, the improving infrastructure and increasing consumer spending power. All together there is the potential for a huge market in the Middle East, with a vast array of opportunities. The travel industry's key online players are gaining early entry advantages," said Tim Gunstone of Eye for Travel.

In addition to using online bookings less often, according to MMHI results, people traveling to the Middle East currently use traditional travel agents for bookings 16% more often than the global average. Travelers to the Middle East are also more satisfied with their reservation experience than the global average (86.3 versus 82.0 in the U.S.), posing a potential challenge to efforts aimed at increasing online bookings.

"Though the lower than average current use of online bookings for travel to the Middle East provides great opportunity for companies who can get in the game early," said Barsky, "they will have to reassure travelers to that part of the world that they don't need the personal interaction of a travel agent and that their needs will be met online."

Other Findings from the MMHI Survey of Hotel Guests in the Middle East

Hotels in the Middle East provide, on average, higher levels of customer satisfaction than hotels in other parts of the world and the brands delivering the most customer satisfaction are The Ritz-Carlton, followed by Four Seasons Hotels and Egypt-based Oberoi Hotels and Resorts.

Market Metrix Hospitality Index  |  Middle East

Hotel Brand                    Customer Satisfaction

Ritz-Carlton                           96.0
Four Seasons Hotels                    94.7
Oberoi Hotels and Resorts              89.2
Le Meridien                            87.9
Hilton Hotels Corporation              86.2

About Market Metrix

Market Metrix helps hospitality companies around the world foster loyal customers and engaged employees. Based on award-winning research and breakthrough concepts, our products deliver instant survey results, analysis and management tools for increasing revenue and reducing staff turnover. Our benchmarking database, MMHI, is the most comprehensive, independent comparison of consumer brand satisfaction in the industry. Our annual MMHI Awards are coveted by lodging and travel enterprises around the world. With clients that include more than 120 brands across 70 countries, Market Metrix has been helping leading hospitality companies turn feedback into performance since 1996. For more information, visit www.marketmetrix.com.

Contact Information