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60 Percent of Online Travel Searches Originate From Mobile Devices

Red Blue Blur Ideas (RBBi), a usability and digital marketing agency in the Middle East released the ‘State of Search in MENA Airlines Industry’, the region’s first research report which explores the current effectiveness of search marketing for the airline industry. The report reveals the relevant and important factors affecting consumer’s decision process during one of the main phases of a traveller’s journey and follows the path to a decision during the traveller’s search of flights, destinations and evaluation of offers.

Naguib Toihiri, SEO Department Lead, RBBi.

RBBi has conducted a regional first study by analysing the passengers experience offered by different airline carriers, revealing that online customer experience has been dramatically enhanced over the last five years through the development of new services and features. These updates have a significant effect on airlines, with features such as Google Flights, Knowledge Graph, and Google City Guides, making it easy for travellers to quickly access all the travel information they need.

“Understanding the decision-making path of travellers is essential for the Middle East aviation industry to target their efforts and position themselves ahead of the competition,” said Naguib Toihiri, SEO Department lead at RBBi.”With more than 70% of the GCC population listed as mobile subscribers, it is imperative that travel websites are made mobile friendly and adopt best regional and global practices.”

Findings show that more than 55% of travellers use a search engine as their first step when making travel arrangements. The comprehensive content analysis discovered:

  • 60% of leisure travellers use search engines to initiate their search for travel information and 55% of business travellers following the same journey as their first port of call for travel information, it is becoming more and more important for Middle East airlines to improve their online brand visibility.
  • Google dominates search engine platforms with 94% of the market share in KSA and UAE being in Arabic, suggesting airlines should focus on Arabic content. A comprehensive content analysis showed that only a few airline brands have optimised their URLs using Arabic characters. This represents a significant missed opportunity for Arabic keyword searches online, especially from those searching from the GCC region.
  • Google’s findings indicate that leisure passengers make 32.5 visits to 10.3 websites in 4.2 categories prior to booking. Travel brands that are not present at this crucial stage of the user journey risk losing out on bookings.

With online brand visibility taking precedence across marketing, RBBi provides four recommendations for increasing online brand visibility, focusing on delivering local Arabic content, a need for mobile-first approach, improving local search optimization, and utilizing rich content.

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