The Middle East has one of the most active technology users of today in terms of travel. The region introduced various new technologies to drive towards the growth of future in travel.
Travel Technology Exchange or TTX Middle East was an important forum where Sabre delivered some key pointers by industry leaders and subject matter experts over a series of presentations and discussions on tourism development in the Middle East. The future of travel is shaped by numerous factors – advances in technology, increasing online and mobile penetration, changing payment landscape and evolving consumer expectations. With emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, voice or augmented reality, the way we experience travel is set to change drastically in the years to come.
Antonella Vecchio, Vice President, EMEA Online and Western region at Sabre Travel Network shared interesting points with the audience. Standing at crossroads between online and offline, she pointed out six key factors in her presentation to be taken into consideration to forge ahead in the travel business. The most important point was that by the end of 2017, there would be over $35 billion worth opportunities which, in turn, would reach up to $90 billion by 2020. Personalisation played a key role as the second fact as over 94 per cent of travellers wanted to choose their own extras by spending over $98 billion on airline ancillary services. The third point focussed on the rapid growth of mobile technology in the region where there would be 56 per cent online purchase and 41 per cent pay for offline purchase, 43 per cent compare prices and 33 per cent read product reviews. The online-offline experience is very important as there has been a shifting trend between the two.
Vecchio reiterated that online travel was following the offline trend with examples from Europe. She spoke of how some online travel agents started offline to engage more travellers to purchase their products. Finally, she stressed on the importance of optimising the traveller experience by online expertise and consultative approach to enhance business performance.
Aya Sadder, Incubator Manager, Intelak which is part of the Emirates Group explained the importance of the millennial traveller. According to research, she stated that by 2020, 50 per cent of the workforce would be millennials which would increase up to 75 per cent by 2030. She further emphasised on providing ‘free Wi-Fi’ to millennials and shared many insights from Emirates‘ Aya Sadder on the behaviours and expectations of the millennial traveller.
Mark McSpadden, Vice President, Emerging Products & Technologies presented an overview of the work of Sabre Labs, the company’s research division, and the emerging technologies set to reshape travel to space tourism.
The UAE is far ahead of many other countries as the chatbot features are already available in most of the banking sector in the UAE but travel is yet to experience. However, as UAE encourages space tourism in the near future, many programmes have been implemented to be above the rest ensuring that more expertise and efforts were made for these important technology aspects. Sabre has their own labs which keep creating various new technologies to enable to understand the new or next gen travellers and their behaviours as well. Millions of dollars are been spent every year on development of these important tech hubs.
Sabre is best placed to explore and help shape the travel of the future. One of the world’s largest software companies, Sabre technology processes over US$120 billion of travel spend and more than 1.1 trillion system messages every year. Headquartered in Southlake, Texas, Sabre employs nearly 10,000 people in approximately 65 countries around the world, and serves its customers through cuttingedge technology developed in six facilities located across four continents.