Font Size

- Aa +

Sun 1 Apr 2007 12:26 PM

Font Size

- Aa +

Hotels: prepare for the “new” guest

Hoteliers can expect to receive guests with increased product knowledge and personal preferences if the Middle East market follows American trends, a vacation ownership conference was told last month.

Hoteliers can expect to receive guests with increased product knowledge and personal preferences if the Middle East market follows American trends, a vacation ownership conference was told last month.

Speaking at the Vacation Ownership Investment Conference in Dubai, marketing firm YPBR chairman Peter Yesawich said trends from the US market were taken up in the Middle East at a much quicker rate.

"In 1996 11% of homes in the United States had access to the internet, now it is 80%," he said. "The trend we have observed in the US in the past 10 years will cascade across the world in the next 10 years. In Saudi Arabia today, 11% have access to the internet. You could argue that maybe it will take another 10 years, but there is accelerated development here [in the Middle East]."

Yesawich said the result of access to technology was that consumers had now become "vigilantes".

"They have become empowered by technology to ensure they do not pay exorbitant prices," he said. "The last thing people want to do is wake up and find the customer in the room next to them paid $100 less a night," he said.

According to YPBR's research, 56% of active travelers in the US rely on the internet alone to make their bookings, and 28% use a combination of travel agents and the internet. Yesawich concluded that another trend was a push towards personalisation, with 38% of internet users willing to pay up to 20% more for personalised products and services.

"Personalisation has become the new service strategy," Yesawich added. "[The consumer is saying] ‘I want what I want, not necessarily what you [the hotel] want to sell to me'."

For all the latest travel news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.