Session Name: Tech and Revolutionizing Travel
In a panel discussion at STEP Conference 2020, speakers Mamoun Hmedan, the Managing Director (MENA and India) at Wego.com, a travel metasearch engine company based in Singapore, Thaer Samara, CEO at Safra Inc., a comprehensive and fully integrated travel platform designed to meet the demanding requirements of professional travel agents in MENA, Matthew Sliedrecht, Director of Marketing at Cleartrip.com, a global online travel company that operates an online travel aggregator website for booking flights and train tickets, hotel reservations, and activities in India and the Middle East, and moderator Zeina Akkawi, owner of PAZ Marketing Management, a public relations consultancy, social media planning and events management company in the Middle East, discussed the most important tech solutions that are improving and advancing the tourism industry, focusing on mobile technology, 5G, big data, and blockchain.
The speakers discussed the indisputable fact that social media has transformed the world of travel. With smart-phones making it easier and quicker to both take and share high quality photos and video, there has been an explosion of visual content right at the customer’s fingertips. With technology such as GoPro and drones becoming increasingly mainstream, social media accounts have become as good, or better, than any other brand generated content.
“Millennials are spending money on experiences over ‘things’ and travel is one of the most important – one out of three millennials are willing to spend $5,000 or more on their vacations, according to a new report by Travelport.” Matthew Sliedricht, Director of Marketing, Cleartrip.com
How Technology Affected the Traveler
Samara, the CEO of Safra said that, “Millennials are spending more on flights and hotels. They’ve even changed the way of discovering destinations; they dig deep into the internet, and head to social media to find new destinations.” To add to this, Cleartrip.com’s Sliedrecht said that, “Millennials are spending money on experiences over ‘things’ and travel is one of the most important – one out of three millennials are willing to spend $5,000 or more on their vacations, according to a new report by Travelport.”
Wego’s Managing Director of MENA and India, Hmedan, said that, “Consumer access to the internet and mobile technology has revolutionized the travel and tourism industry worldwide, changing the way consumers plan and book trips, and residents of GCC countries are a huge part of this revolution with Wego at the forefront”. He also added that, “Global megatrends and their impact on the Middle East’s travel and tourism industry highlights that travelers in the GCC now do the majority of their holiday research and booking on smartphones and tablets”.
Moreover, Sliedrecht elaborated on Cleartrip’s “hassle free experience” for users who can now submit their visa application online. Once processed, the visa will be delivered to the applicant via email, eliminating the need for travelers to visit a physical visa-processing centre. This came after Sliedrecht seized the opportunity of governments waking up to the potential of providing e-visas to travelers in an effort to boost tourism.
Final remarks included how today’s technology harnesses powerful yet simple to use platforms, that automate the process of searching and comparing results from hundreds of airlines, hotels and online travel agency websites, which enables shoppers to quickly find the best deals and places to book whether they do that through an airline, or hotel directly or with a third-party aggregator website.
If you see something out of place or would like to contribute to this story, check out our Ethics and Policy section.